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Recent studies focusing on how working conditions impact productivity has come out with some startling results, prompting many managers to change workplace environments. Even making minor changes can improve the emotional and physical health of your employees. If you’re unsure where to start, these suggestions may help you create a workplace environment that’s more conducive to productivity.
Lighting Should Be Sufficient
We all know that it’s important to have sufficient lighting in the workplace, yet up to 40% of people say they work in dimly lit environments. Working in poorly lit areas has physical effects that could lead to more frequent absences and early departures among employees, so managers can improve attendance by ensuring this isn’t a hazard in their workplace. Poor light leads to increased eye strain, headaches, and drowsiness.
However, it’s equally important to avoid lighting that’s too intense or lighting that gives off excess heat. In these conditions, you’ll likely see more of your employees experiencing fatigue and a loss of energy. Excessive lighting has also been linked to a greater risk of migraines.
Maintain a Moderate Temperature
Another environmental factor that affects work performance is the temperature inside the workplace. While employers provide some type of climate control, they often go to one extreme or the other. This creates a situation that’s devastating to both work productivity and operating expenses. A study conducted among UK workers found that employees were 44% more likely to commit errors in their work when the temperature was too cold.
Conversely, temperatures that are too hot impede productivity with workplace efficiency dropping to 85% in a climate of 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Ideally, the workplace thermostat should be kept at 70 degrees Fahrenheit all year round to maintain a pleasant temperature. This will also save on the monthly heating and cooling costs for the business.
Reduce Noise to Reduce Stress
The ambient noise in any work environment increases the stress that workers feel on a day to day basis. Even in an office environment, little changes, such as using a leather MacBook sleeve to buffer the noise that your laptop’s cooling system generates, can have a big impact on stress levels. In addition to the sounds that machinery makes, other stress-inducing noises include loud voices and frequently ringing telephones.
While providing earplugs to employees in high noise areas is one way to limit workplace stress, additional steps should be taken to limit the background noise in any work environment. This may include moving copiers and other office machinery to a separate room and instituting a three-ring rule for incoming calls.
Circulate Stale Air
You should also look for ways to remove stale air from the workplace, especially in smaller enclosed office areas. Some research has found that enclosed offices experienced a buildup of carbon dioxide, which was linked to inhibited cognitive functioning and poorer decision-making. The researchers in one study determined that workers exposed to carbon dioxide to a level of 2,500 parts per million were just as cognitively impaired as a driver with a 0.08% blood alcohol content.
You can combat this effect by boosting air circulation in your workplace. Some suggestions for this include opening windows, using fans, and introducing live plants into the workplace. These are inexpensive measures that will help enrich the oxygen content of the air your staff breathes.
Check Humidity Levels
While temperature has already been covered, it’s also important to check humidity levels in the work environment. An area that’s too humid will lead to mold and mildew growth, which poses a threat to human health. In particular, breathing in mold spores can affect the respiratory system and cause the eyes and skin to become irritated.
Prolonged exposure can lead to lung infections that will require medical treatment to alleviate. You can avoid these health hazards by keeping humidity levels between 30% and 50% throughout the year. In addition to your HVAC system, using fans or dehumidifiers can help you maintain a good humidity level.
If you’re already planning to redesign your workplace, implementing structural changes can help you create a healthier work environment. However, you can make smaller, less costly changes that can be just as effective in boosting employee health and morale. When you work with your employees to bring about positive environmental changes, you’ll find that your employers are happier and healthier, which will help them boost their overall productivity.