According to a research conducted for Immpuls by GfK Romania, employees admit that following factors in their working environment are important or very important: air conditioning (95%), daylight (94%), intimacy and sound proofing (88%) and ergonomic furniture (88%). Not only are these aspects seen as important, but the same factors are mentioned when asked “What would you improve in your office”?
These figures match those of other researches showing that staff turnover can be improved by up to 14% after a smart office refurbishment. Also, productivity levels may widely fluctuate (up to 25%) among comfortable and uncomfortable staff, in correlation with the degree of office satisfaction.
Managing Partner, IMMPULS
Turning the working environment around requires investments, technical analysis and a lot of effort. Even so, companies have to carefully look into the reasons for such changes, their long term objectives and the right timing. Here are some factors with relevant impact on employees.
Productivity can be increased up to 20% by improving air quality, with a cost-benefit ratio related to these improvements of 1:10.
There are many potential sources of indoor air pollution, which may, singly or in combination, directly affect the health and the productivity of the occupants and lead to notable profit losses for companies who ignore these problems. As a matter of fact indoor air can be up to 50 times more polluted than outdoor air. The most common sources of indoor air pollution include tobacco smoke, mould, building materials and furnishings, cleaning agents, copy machines and pesticides.
Starting from design and continuing in construction and maintenance there are many levers to improve the air quality. For existing buildings the most effective method is to increase fresh air volumes and / or to decrease the occupant density. Eight studies performed worldwide reported statistically significant reductions (between 23% and 76%) in the occurrence of the Acute Respiratory Illness, in buildings that improved ventilation.
Daylight improvement can increase productivity up to 5%-15%. Daylight design has been linked to a 15% reduction of absence from work. Also, lighting design has been linked to a 27% reduction in the incidence of headaches.
Not too much and not too little. Both the over abundance and the scarcity of natural light can be a disturbing factor for employees. Although this should be considered from the blue prints stage, lightingcan be improved on the way as well. The recipe for appropriate natural lightening is directly dependent on the position of the building and the geographical climate conditions which determine how much natural light hits the building and for how long during the day. This could be addressed with redesigning the overall glass surface of the façade or with more simple solutions such asbuild-in or external shadesor by adjusting the selectivity factor of the glass (the ratio between light transmittance to total energy transmittance). How much natural light gets to the employees is clearly also related to the distribution of space and staff.
Reduction of noise can improve productivity up to 27% for complex tasks and 38% for simple tasks.
Inside or outside noise?The windows allow the loudest noisecoming from the exterior. Sound control/ barrier solutions come with options: replacement of the window with a double or triple glazing may be the answer providing a 50% to 90% noise reduction. On the inside, old or inappropriateventilation systems can make exasperating noises – whether this is due to poor materials or a bad technical solution planned or executed. Have that fixed!When partitioning the offices in private and soundproof spaces is not possible, cubicles with enough height and thickness of walls could be a solution to reduce some of the background noise made by people.If the area has no partitionsat all and we have an open room, noise can build up. In this case we recommend adding noise-absorbent materials to the critical zones, thereby reducing sound reflection.
While there are many aspects to be considered when talking about employees’ productivity increase, the impact of the working environment should definitely not be ignored. Who can afford ignoring a growth potential?