Lighting, air quality and temperature of an office can impact on occupant health and well-being. By choosing green building design and fitouts, businesses are looking out for their staff and improving their their bottom lines.
Productivity can be affected by the energy levels and output of workers while they are at work and also the rate of absenteeism. Sick building syndrome (SBS) can negatively impact both the output and sick leave. SBS relates to people suffering from illness for no apparent reason. Symptoms increase in line with more time spent in a building and improve or disappear when they are away. In most cases of sick building syndrome, problems with the heating, ventilation and air conditioning were to blame.
Office Natural Light Impacts Health and Wellbeing
Strong links between lighting and productivity have shown up in studies over several years.
Offices with windows provide their workers with 173% more white light (natural daylight) during work hours. This additional daylight translates to an average of 46 minutes more sleep each night. Reduced reliance on artificial light not only improves workers’ productivity and sleep but makes the office more efficient.
It seems it’s not just daylight, views from the office window matter too. A US study looked at possible links between sunlight and outlook in the workplace. It found workers with access to quality views and light took 6.5% fewer sick days.
Workers may feel happier if they have access to natural light because the happy hormone serotonin increases with sunlight. It’s the reason why psychiatrists recommend depressed patients go out in the sun for 30 minutes per day.
Choosing a building with large or full-length windows and quality window treatments can maximise the amount of light in an office. Open plan offices ensure the most number of staff benefit from natural light.
Workplace Air Quality Matters
Numerous studies have shown that poor air quality reduces worker productivity by 10%. Typing speed and unit output are reasonable measures of productivity. Sick leave was found to be 35% less in offices with a greater supply of outdoor air.
The temperature of the air is also important for many workers. Having control over the heat of the office makes workers happier and also maximises productivity. Worker performance can decrease by 10% if the office temperature is too high or too low.
Introducing outdoor air into the office isn’t always possible, but using indoor office plants is one easy way of improving air quality. NASA has completed a Clean Air Study to find the plants that can remove indoor pollutants such as benzene, formaldehyde and ammonia.
Improved Productivity from Building Quality
The energy and output of workers can analyse productivity while they are at work and also the rate of absenteeism.
By improving the light, air and even temperature of the office, you can maximise productivity. Workers want access to daylight, outdoor air and the ability to alter the temperature.
The Green Building Council of Australia, launched in 2003, is the voluntary rating of buildings and communities. Few buildings have achieved the highest 6-star certification in 15 years.
BHP received the highest level in Green Star Interiors rating for the fit out of its Brookfield Place Perth office in 2013. The building was designed for the highest possible indoor environment quality to support worker productivity and occupant health.
Perimeter daylight harvesting and an open office layout allow the maximum amount of daylight to enter the building and the high-tech air conditioning system responds to changes in occupancy rates throughout the day.
Pressure on architects of commercial buildings to change their designs will only come about with pressure from tenants. If companies don’t demand changes, new and renovated buildings won’t change enough to benefit workers with better light and air quality and an improved bottom line.
If you'd like more information about improving the quality of your workplace to increase productivity, contact PeopleSense on 1300 307 912 or (08) 9388 9000, or contact us online.