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According to IFMA research, an uncomfortable workplace temperature is the number one complaint of office workers about their workplace environment. Actually, it’s both number one and number two (people complain most about being too hot AND about being too cold).
This complaint is really not surprising when you consider that 40% of office buildings have HVAC systems that are somewhere between 16 and 30 years old. During that time, building tenants have changed, usage of the space has changed, more employees are packed into the same amount of space, and there’s a lot more heat-generating technology in place. So many of these systems were never designed for the current conditions.
It’s important to realize that workplace temperature impacts more than your employees’ comfort. Here’s what you’re risking when you have HVAC equipment that’s failing to properly control the temperature in your workplace.
Workplace temperature impacts productivity
Productivity suffers significantly when workers are too hot or too cold because they are distracted and make more mistakes.
Men’s Health magazine reported the results of a study conducted by Northumbria University, showing that a frigid workplace temperature can significantly impact productivity. A Cornell University study also showed that cold office temperatures (below 68 degrees) lead to 44 percent more employee errors, especially during the “post-lunch dip” when body temperature naturally declines and drowsiness sets in.
The Cornell study suggests that companies can save companies $2 per hour per worker by keeping temperatures comfortable.
Remember that a too-warm workplace temperature can kill productivity, too. And if you’re turning up the thermostat too high in the summer to save on energy, you may be stepping over dollars to pick up pennies. You can easily lose much more in productivity than you save on energy bills.
Uncomfortable temperatures reduce innovation & creativity
When the workplace temperature is too warm or too cold, the brain is focusing on the discomfort rather than on work. That can have an enormous impact on workers in certain industries, especially those you are counting on to produce creative work or come up with innovative ideas to grow your business.
Employees in fields such as design, marketing, product development, and other creative pursuits will have a difficult time concentrating on their assignments when they’re distracted by trying to get warm or cool off.
Comfort is key to attracting & retaining talent
The American Society of Interior Design conducted a study which showed that the workplace environment was a key factor in recruiting and maintaining qualified employees. The results revealed that 41% of employees would accept a position based upon the workplace atmosphere, and 51% would consider leaving a company if the environment was not acceptable to them.
Temperature and air quality in the workplace are critical aspects of the business environment (especially considering that the top complaints about office environment are about temperature). Poor temperature control leads to lower job satisfaction and can hurt your ability to attract and retain the talent you need to succeed in your industry.
How you can take control of your workplace temperature
If you are in charge of the physical environment at your company, this news can come as something of a shock. And the news is even worse if your business serves customers in your workplace (such as restaurants and stores). In that case, uncomfortable temperatures may be driving away customers, harming your reputation, and reducing your revenue.
So, what can you do if you’re not in a position to replace your entire HVAC system?
Well, the fact is that many HVAC problems that cause uncontrolled temperatures can be fixed without replacing the system:
REPAIRS such as fixing refrigerant leaks or replacing sluggish fan motors can give your system more cooling and heating power.
DESIGN CHANGES such as moving or repairing ductwork can improve distribution and get more heated and cooled air where you need it.
REGULAR MAINTENANCE like cleaning coils and replacing filters makes your equipment work better and use less energy.
In fact, there are some things you can do yourself to make sure your system is operating as it should be. Read this to learn more: Office Air Conditioning Battles: Take Control Before Workers Do.
Next, consult with HVAC experts to find out how to improve your workplace temperature control. If you’re in the Portland/Vancouver metro area, contact us anytime; we’d be happy to help and you may find that your problems can be solved more easily than you expected.