When discussing office building automation, we tend to focus on reducing energy bills and helping the environment. Of course, these are both extremely important factors. However, an often overlooked factor is the positive effects building automation can have on employees and office productivity.
As the place employees spend most of their day, the physical environment of an office is important to develop a healthy working environment. Research has found that employees‘ satisfaction with their work environment is directly related to their job satisfaction and indirectly related to organizational commitment.
Research has found some links between the physical features of an office (e.g. layout, colours, etc.), and employee satisfaction. However, in general, studies have found more concrete evidence when looking at the ambient features of an office environment. This refers mainly to noise, lighting, temperature and water quality.
A study conducted by the American Society of Interior Design revealed that 68% of employees complain about the lighting situation in their offices. Research has shown a definitive link between lighting and office productivity. One researcher found a significant link between light and circadian rhythms, the “built-in-clock” that determines your sleep cycle, stimulation and relaxation. Poor lighting can interrupt these rhythms, affecting concentration, and putting employees in a poor mindset for work.
One important factor in office lighting is the “temperature” of the light. Studies have found that different temperatures of light have different effects on the brain. Following this, it has been determined which temperature of light works best in various settings:
With “cool” light found to improve alertness and productivity, it should be the go-to choice for spaces where employees are actually working, whilst “warm” light should be used in areas of relaxation.
Research has also found that exposure natural to light is also beneficial to workers. Part of the reason “cool” light is so effective is that is most closely resembles natural light. Research has even gone as far as to say that natural light can help with depression, improving mood, energy, alertness and productivity.
Several studies have made links between indoor climate and health and performance. Employees who are in discomfort are less likely to focus, and overall productivity suffers. One of the most common factors influencing this is temperature. Particularly when it’s hot outside, internal air conditioning is vital. Studies have shown that when air conditioning was utilised, employees felt that their workspace became more comfortable and productivity increased by 5-5% because they could fully concentrate.
Further research found that productivity decreases by 2% per each degree over 25°C. Heat can also cause lethargy which negatively affects productivity as well as increasing the rate of office accidents.
The best office environment is one which goes unnoticed – it should be something employees don’t even have to think about. This way, they can put all their attention towards their work.
So it’s clear that an office’s environment has a big influence on overall productivity and employee health and wellbeing. This is where building automation comes in. Automation allows companies to regulate and adjust the environment of their entire office building. Not only does this improve productivity, it also saves money on energy bills, and helps the environment by reducing carbon footprint.
So with the research to back it up, companies can make conscious decisions about how they want their office environment to function, and then control it easily through smart systems.
A great example of a smart office is the ‘Edge’ in Amsterdam, read our full blog post on the world’s smartest building here.