Measuring comfort in the office must be a priority as the impact on health and productivity is significant
Measuring comfort in the office must be a priority as the impact on health and productivity is significant

Measuring Office Comfort is Not a Luxury

We all know that the environment that surrounds us has a profound impact on our behavior, sensations and interactions. It is therefore no secret that, through the way workspaces are designed and managed, they can contribute positively (or negatively) to the physical and mental well-being of employees.

Yet measuring office comfort is still considered a luxury of large companies, which wrongly associate the notion of comfort with attractive design and decoration. It is a fact that the subject of comfort in the work environment is too often neglected, lacking the appropriate managerial commitment and the necessary skills to monitor it. According to a Leesman study conducted in 2020, although approximately one employee in two (48%) agrees that the design of their workplace promotes their general well-being, only 36% believe that it encourages them to be physically active.

 

1.     Holistic approach to indoor environmental quality

In the majority of the projects we have handled at GreenMe, we have regrettably found that the subject of comfort and quality of the indoor environment was the sole responsibility of the facility management. On rare occasions, human resources were involved. Even the General Services considered the subject superficially.

 

We observed that :

  • Until now, companies do not take the full measure of the impact of the indoor environment on the health and productivity of their employees: it is complicated to measure and therefore to quantify.
  • Most of the time, the management of comfort in office buildings is entrusted to maintenance technicians who do what they can do: manage the existing, increasingly complex technical equipment within the limits of their skills.
  • The subject of energy transition is too often misunderstood or underestimated. There is a lack of training on all the issues, orders of magnitude, regulations.
  • Companies too often rely on technology and automation to reduce their energy consumption. The user is more often considered as a pebble in the gearbox than as the engine lubricant.

 However, the physical work environment must be centered on its occupants, so that it best meets its fundamental objective of housing a high-performance activity and serene, healthy teams. The comfort of the working environment cannot therefore be limited to technical commitments such as set temperature.

 

It is all the more important to take into consideration all the factors that come into play in the life of an office, particularly the human factor, as environmental pressure is felt.

 

Indeed, companies today face 2 obligations:

 

- To do everything possible to ensure the health and well-being of their employees.

- Reduce their energy consumption

But the two are linked: Reducing energy consumption (e.g. reducing heating, air conditioning, increasing ventilation) has an impact on comfort, and vice versa.

It is therefore imperative to deal with the subject of comfort in offices as a whole, in order to ensure a lasting result, and not to adopt a posture of reaction to repeated bouts of discomfort, independently of everything else.

Environmental performance and comfort should be assessed using a "systems" approach, focusing on how the various components interact within the built environment and identifying options with the greatest potential to improve energy efficiency and reduce overall effects on the indoor and outdoor environment.

In our experience, acting on the current behaviour of buildings and their use is the true characteristic of an intelligent approach: it is not about questioning the functioning of buildings or the behaviour of people, but about learning from what actually happens. For this, it is necessary to associate :

  • Human resources
  • The General Services
  • The Health & Safety department
  • Facility Management
  • in monitoring the comfort of workspaces.

It is also necessary to train all these players in health, regulatory and environmental issues.

Finally, employees must be involved in the process. They are the embodiment of its success.

It is only under these conditions that comfort measurement will be effective.

 

Femme en situation d'inconfort devant son poste de travail
A lack of investment in the comfort of the work environment is really a lack of investment in the workforce. And when offices return to normal activity, organizations that have not made the necessary investment in the comfort of their spaces may find that employees are reluctant to return.

What tools to measure comfort in the work environment

Comfort is multifactorial and variable, especially in relation to the outdoor environment, which makes the measurement of comfort complex.

The first step in measuring comfort is to use your eyes! Making regular visits to observe working conditions and how people adapt (someone who isolates himself in a meeting room to work is not a sign of agility but of discomfort) is an essential step for anyone who is truly interested in employee comfort.

The second step is to question the occupants, carrying out surveys once or twice a year (or more if the population varies greatly) in order to estimate the perception of their productivity and well-being.

The third step is simply to use tools for continuous measurement of the various comfort parameters in order to objectify the comfort situation and ensure that there are no anomalies in the building's behaviour. IOT (Internet of Things), such as the GreenMe connected cube, will be of great help.

GreenMe measures continuously visual comfort, hygrothermal comfort, acoustic comfort, need for air renewal.
  Contact-us for more information

Labels such as the Well Building Standard or in France Certivea's Osmoz label can guide you on these different aspects and the methodology to adopt to ensure the comfort of your spaces.

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