As a business leader, undoubtedly, you are tasked with finding how to increase productivity. As you search for ways to do this, have you considered evaluating the efficiency of your facility’s HVAC system and the quality of the indoor air? Studies show air temperature and the environmental comfort of an industrial facility, office building, warehouse, distribution center, or campus building have a significant influence – both good and bad – on employee productivity.
If you are ready to investigate and overcome the often unknown, low-productivity culprit of unpleasant working conditions and measurably increased productivity, look at indoor air temperature, indoor air quality, and the level of ventilation.
Not sure where to start? Midwest Mechanical Services & Solutions, a commercial and industrial HVAC company with 50 years of experience, comes across this issue more and more, so we thought we would share the top three indoor climate and environmental productivity zappers, and how improving them can keep employees motivated, healthy, and increase productivity at work.
Top 3 Ways to Increase Productivity with Indoor Climate & Environmental Productivity Zappers
1. Temperature – 70° F Please
We’ve all been there. One person likes his or her work area warm, another likes it frigid, and yet another likes it in-between. Every five minutes the temperature is being bumped in one direction or another. It’s no surprise that studies show at least 50% of employees are unhappy with their indoor working climate. This is such a big problem, many companies put acrylic lockboxes over the thermostats.
No more thermostat wars! No matter the season, the optimal temperature for most working environments is 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature, though cooler than we would typically have at home, works well for most people in nearly all commercial environments and is shown to boost worker output by 10 to 15 percent.
- When the temperature gets above 70 degrees, depending on the type of work, uncomfortable sweating can become a visible problem and an embarrassment, lowering morale, causing fatigue, and decreasing productivity.
- Temperatures too low can also cause poor performance. One study revealed that at 68 degrees, employees made 44 percent more errors. Being cold is a mental distraction and creates a restlessness to try to stay warm.
- In high-production areas with heavy equipment or lots of IT equipment, the indoor air temperature can fluctuate wildly and increase quickly. The right cooling and ventilation system with maximum efficiency is a must to keep this and other areas at a constant, comfortable temperature.
If you’re not sure 70 ° is the right temp for each area of your building(s), conduct a confidential survey to find out what your employees think. Ask them at what temperature they feel most comfortable doing their jobs, then choose an average (you can also ask about the next two topics listed). When employees feel heard and part of the solution, morale goes up and productivity follows. It may be hard to believe, but something as simple as a comfortable temperature can noticeably improve output and keep employees from leaving.
Research shows changing the thermostat by 2 percent can lead to a 10 percent loss in productivity.
2. Humidity – Too Dry or Too Damp?
Typically, HVAC systems dehumidify the air. While this may be beneficial during our sticky, midwestern summers, dehumidifying the air in the cooler months can cause dry throats and eyes, dry skin, and the need to constantly rehydrate. When indoor air is too dry or too damp, viruses and mold are known to thrive, unlike employees.
As a result of dry or damp discomfort, employees’ concentration declines, and they become less productive in their work. Production facilities, offices, warehouses, distribution centers, and campuses need a climate-controlled HVAC system that provides enough humidity for employees to feel comfortable, as well as to protect them from the spread of airborne viruses and mold. Better health means higher output.
3. Ventilation – Outside Air Indoors is a Must for Optimized Health & Production
Workplace ventilation with outside air is vital for better health, more energy, and – you guessed it – higher production. Unfortunately, ventilation is rarely considered and often underestimated in its importance. The nature of many businesses requires locked doors and windows that don’t open, and others just don’t allow it, leaving stale recirculating air to, well, recirculate.
This lack of outside air (O2) raises CO2 levels, greatly impairing concentration and health and decreasing productivity. Poor ventilation also increases the chances of viral and bacterial infection. Additionally, if your business is industrial, chemicals, vapors, and dust are most likely present in the recirculated air and breathed by your employees, day after day.
So, what do you do? Controlling heating and cooling costs are already difficult enough without opening doors and windows, increasing your already substantial energy costs.
The good news is there are ventilation systems (natural, spot ventilation, and whole building) that use fresh and filtered outside air to control air quality and moisture, minimizing energy loss and optimizing the air your employees breathe. According to the Department of Energy, these systems “reduce the costs of heating ventilated air in the winter by transferring heat from the warm inside air being exhausted to the fresh (but cold) supply air. In the summer, the inside air cools the warmer supply air to reduce ventilation cooling costs.”
Did you know, fresh air in the workplace can reduce the number of sick leave reports up to 35%? Helping employees stay healthy with a climate-controlled environment keeps your business healthy.
Indoor Air Quality & Temperature Play a Significant Role in Productivity at Work
Do you face the constant challenge of not only keeping employees but motivating the ones you already have to produce quality work? Does your company experience too many sick days and worker health issues? Surprisingly and silently, unpleasant indoor air quality and uncomfortable temperatures play a significant role in health, motivation, and overall worker production.
Now that you know the three main ways to improve your business’s indoor air quality and temperature, you can begin to form a worker productivity strategy based on revisiting your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.
To increase productivity for your company, improve indoor air quality with custom solutions that make your facility safer for employees while encouraging higher production. Contact us today. 314-432-7655