One of the most easily overlooked factors that can affect employee productivity is their experience of the workplace environment. It can be tempting to put simple details like temperature, ambient noise, and lighting out of mind because it’s hard to imagine that little environmental details can make a big difference on our work. We all like to think that we’re experts at powering through any possible annoyance, but in truth every discomfort we experience while working takes up a little bit of our brain’s focus and reduces our overall productivity. This article will give you five fascinating statistics that will help you improve your work environment, both for you and your employees.
With autumn quickly taking hold of the world around us, employers should know just how much changes in the seasons can affect employee productivity. An employee doesn’t have to be diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder in order to be affected by the onset of autumn and the approach of winter, though studies have shown that nearly 6% of Americans do suffer from SAD symptoms. The reduction in sunlight leads to the feeling that days are shorter, and can actually contribute to a decrease in Vitamin-D absorption, which contributes to a downturn in mood and productivity.
Additionally, the sometimes sudden decrease in ambient temperature that comes with autumn can lead to distracting discomfort at work. Employers should consider their options for increasing natural lighting options at work and managing the ambient temperature of the office. The employee experience, which is fundamental to productivity, will be considerably better if the office is comfortable and lit with bulbs that imitate sunlight.
There have now been multiple studies done on the difference in environmental preference between men and women. These studies revealed that men prefer temperatures that are slightly cooler (closer to 68 degrees Fahrenheit,) while women prefer temperatures that are slightly warmer (closer to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.) What is potentially more fascinating is the fact that both men and women proved to be quite sensitive to these small differences in temperature, and were reported to be more distracted when their environment felt too hot or too cold.
Employers would be wise to research options for dynamic temperature management, as temperature can be one of the most impactful passive contributors to productivity. If you’ve ever experienced the sleepy sluggishness that comes with the heat of summer, you probably can imagine how such a thing might impact work.
The same studies that identified differences between men and women in regards to temperature also revealed minor differences in ambient noise tolerance between the genders. Women were more likely to notice ambient noise but were slightly less distracted by it than men were. Men were less likely to notice ambient noise, but when they did, they were more significantly affected by it.
The prevailing information, though, is just how much noise affects both genders. Ambient noise control has always been a part of office design, but it had generally
been reserved for controlling the major disturbances like meetings or conference calls. With the most up-to-date research employers can now see that it is beneficial to consider all sources of ambient noise in regards to productivity and employee experience instead of just the obvious offenders.
In the last few years most computer operating systems have begun to include options for intelligently modifying the coloration of your screen as the day goes on. These features came about after studies into the effects of colored light on eye strain and sleep showed that blue light can cause undue strain while also contributing to worse sleep after use. With 27 percent of Americans spending 10 or more hours in front of predominantly blue-light digital screens, you can see how this could lead to a major problem with our eyes.
However, variations in lighting are not limited to our computer screens. Having appropriate ambient light can greatly contribute to a comfortable and productive work environment. Employers should consider smart bulbs and full-spectrum lights, which produce light very similar to sunlight. Natural lighting tends to be refreshing because it has a healthy color balance of what our bodies naturally associate with the productive hours of the day.
If you’ve ever worked in an environment where the doors were frequently opened and closed during the fall and winter months, you might have noticed how easily your lips chapped and your eyes dried out. The Center for Disease Control has revealed that the majority of Americans spend 90% of their time indoors, and much of that time will be spent in the office. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has done further research showing that indoor air quality is heavily affected by humidity. Poor indoor air quality can lead to chronically dried eyes, breathing issues, and even the spread of sicknesses.
For many offices, managing humidity is as simple as adding a single device. Humidifiers can often be connected to central smart environmental management devices, ensuring that each area of the office is fine-tuned to its individual needs.
In summary, employers like you are turning to cutting edge tools to ensure that each employee is comfortable and healthy at work. The best work requires focus, creativity, and passion, all of which can be negatively affected by an upsetting work environment. Details matter when you spend every day in the same office! Keep these interesting statistics in mind when you begin planning improvements to your work environment.