Welcome back Tri State Office-ians, last blog we looked at an in depth look as to what performance improvements and issues come from an open vs closed office space. If You haven’t already read that blog click here. As for this blog, we’re going to get right into the factors affecting employee performance.…
It’s not wrong to say that your workspace atmosphere can have a profound effect on your employee’s wellbeing, they do spend most of their time there after all. But where privacy and collaboration are one thing to keep your employees, and as a result your business, feeling fresh and energized. There is an easily over looked aspect of your business that by taking control of it can improve your employee well-being and help you become more energy efficient. What is this secret character of your business you may ask? Well it’s right in front of your very eyes… Lighting and Temperature.
Factors affecting employee performance in the workplace:
Yes, it’s in front of your eyes both figuratively and literally. It may seem so simple, but lighting and temperature are a hard-to-miss part of your everyday life that you pay attention to, but very seldom have control over. Especially in an office atmosphere where you are sharing a space with 15 other people. The technicalities of lighting and temperature go far and beyond a general understanding since it has so many different styles and systems it can come in. To simplify this topic for you I’m going to use another theoretical.
You’re a CEO and your company is in the midst of your new office transition because, you decided that it was time to move spaces after hiring 50 new employees. You just picked your office layout (open or closed) and your human resource department comes back to you telling it’s time to decide on a form of lighting for the office. They tell you this is a critical step because it can affect yours and your employee’s well-being. One of your team members tells you that you should choose a fluorescent, parabolic down lighting system because it shines light directly downward and it’s a cheaper option. Another team mate tells you that you should use lensed-indirect, LED lighting because it will be more energy efficient and should lead to fewer screen glare problems. You can probably see already there are a lot of things to consider. Why make something so simple into such an ordeal though?
Well one reason is that lighting can negatively affect you with short term problems such as cuts and falls, to long term problems such as eye strain and back ache. Of course, it depends on the type of work you do to allow you to maximize your efficiency and minimize your injuries. For example, lighting that is good for a factory could be bad for an office. Similarly, but less extreme, offices that do mostly paper based work should not use the same lighting as offices that use mostly computer based work, since the extreme contrast caused from the glare on the computer can cause eye fatigue and strain1. This is where the conflict starts since most office lighting tends to be set for working with paper. The task seems almost un-avoidable. A solution to this problem can be resolved by blessing you employees with a previously aforementioned, oddly emphasized word. That I will reference you back to now… (dramatic pause) control.
In 2012 Wiley academic article titled Development of an Intelligent Lighting System Using LED Ceiling Lights into an Actual Office, Keiko Ono of Ryukoko University in Japan tested a hypothesis that “there are reports that in other countries, individual illuminance control increases intellectual productivity and reduces power consumption.” To test this, they created an intelligent lighting that delivered the desired light level and color to each individuals desk2. These systems are equipped with adjustable lighting, illuminance sensors, and a power meter that is each connected to a network to monitor it. After the tests, the individual lighting system confirmed a reduction of 30-40% in power consumption and the range of preferred illuminance was between 200 and 800 lux for power temperature2. The article claims that when it comes down to it
“Intelligent lighting works to increase convince and comfort for the people who work in the office and achievement of an individually disparate and environmentally optimized space that emphasizes intellectual creativity and productivity…”
Try saying that 3 times fast! Of course, this is compared to an office where a uniform environment is attempted to be created, but as history has shown this does not work for every one person, or company. It’s best to decide which lighting option will be best for you based on the kind of work you do. You don’t need this expensive equipment though to make the lighting comfortable in your office. You can use what we call in the biz, “adjustable task lighting” AKA lamps. Specifically, desk lamps of which there are plenty of options. By this point your probably thinking “what about temperature? You have been blabbing on for 3 paragraphs about lighting and have not so much a grazed the topic!” If that’s not what you’re thinking, Thank you. But if that is what you’re thinking, don’t you worry, I’m getting to it right now!
Temperature and productivity in the workplace
Just like lighting, the indoor environment of your office can affect wellbeing and health, along with motivation. Temperature is a long-debated office topic, and topic in general that has yet to be resolved completely since everyone has different wants and needs. Temperature can affect your productivity in ways that lighting can’t. Where lighting can affect your eye sight, temperature can simply make you feel uneasy. Even the most motivated people have trouble maintaining productivity under adverse hot, or cold conditions. In a study that monitored office clerks showed that at 77 degrees Fahrenheit workers were typing 100 percent of the time with a 10 percent error rate, but at 68 degrees workers were typing 54 percent of the time with a 25 percent error rate3; This was just a measure of performance though. It’s not fair to assume though that temperature created these adverse changes alone though. This is where temperature and lighting come together.
A study done in Australia worked to look at this issue. In the study, they brought surveys into several companies to discover how changes in building design and indoor environmental quality (IEQ) can affect occupant’s work productivity, and well-being. The surveys were made on a number of self-reported Likert-scales (1 = ‘very good’ to 7 = ‘very bad’); self-reported measures are one of the only practical ways to measure work productivity and well-being. Along with other cognitive tests to measure the validity of the self-reported measures. The study found that no single IEQ stressor affected work performance directly rather the IEQ stressors affected individual state factors such as motivation, alertness, and focus4. The study also found that the size of the reduction in work performance depended upon the number of environmental stressors imposed on an individual at any given time, meaning participants felt they were more productive and felt better when they had one, or no stressors, but when the number of stressors exceeded two, or three work performance recedes back to the average4. Therefore, the layout of your building is worth considering before you move, or start a business because if you can, it is best to choose a layout that can allow environmental control be given to your employees. Because, if your employees have even the slightest bit of control they have reason to feel empowered and as a result be motivated to work hard and be creative, boosting your business and their happiness.
By. Dylan Edmonds
- Hedge, Alan, William R. Sims, and Franklin D. Becker. “Effects of Lensed-indirect and Parabolic Lighting on the Satisfaction, Visual Health, and Productivity of Office Workers.”Ergonomics38.2 (1995): 260-90. Web. 1 July 2016.
- Ono, Keiko, Mitsunori Miki, Masato Yoshimi, Tatsuo Nishimoto, Tetsuya Omi, Hiroshi Adachi, Masatoshi Akita, and Yoshihiro Kasahara. “Development of an Intelligent Lighting System Using LED Ceiling Lights into an Actual Office.” Electronics and Communications in Japan95.10 (2012): 54-63. Web. 1 July 2017.
- “THE AGE-OLD DEBATE: ‘THE OFFICE IS TOO HOT/ THE OFFICE IS TOO COLD’.”Managing Accounts Payable10.10 (2010): 9. Web. 1 July 2017.
- Lamb, S., and S. Kwok. “A Longitudinal Investigation of Work Environment Stressors on the Performance and Wellbeing of Office Workers.” Applied Ergonomics52 (2016): 104-11. Web. 1 July 2017.