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Working Well: Improving Productivity and Sense of Wellness

Any successful business depends in large part on the health and happiness of its employees.  Put another way, with employee costs typically accounting for a high percentage of the budget, their health and satisfactions can have a huge impact on profitability.  While many studies have addressed individual components of workplace environment such as air quality, a new report from the World Green Building Council seeks a larger view. 

The report concludes that “The physical features of an office can make [employees] feel inspired, connected and energetic, or sluggish, isolated and less motivated.” Among the findings:

  • Indoor Air Quality:  Good indoor air quality includes low levels of CO2and pollutants as well as high rates of ventilation.  The large body of research cited in this report indicates that superior workplace air quality can account for an 8 to 11 percent increase in employee productivity.
  • Thermal Comfort:  While the report states difficulty in separating thermal comfort from indoor air quality as a whole, it points to research showing that resolving the age-old battle over the office thermostat can make a big difference.  Employees who feel they have even a modest amount of control over their thermal environment are more productive.
  • Lighting:  It goes without saying that adequate lighting is vital, but it appears that natural light from a window has an even larger positive effect.  Whether this is due to the quality of the light or to a sense of connectedness with the outdoors is not clear.  Which brings us to …
  • Biophilia:  This is a term for a hypothesis suggesting that we have an instinctive bond to nature, which would support the idea that an outdoor view is conducive to greater wellness and productivity.  It further seems to suggest that the trend in green building of commercial workspaces will be a good thing for employee health.  The report acknowledges, however, that it’s too soon to draw firm conclusions about the impact of the green building movement.

The report addresses further related issues such as noise and office layout, as well as much more subjective topics including the look and feel of a workspace, its location and the amenities it might offer, including exercise facilities and childcare.

It seems clear from the report that a relationship exists between workplace design and occupant health, employee wellbeing and productivity.  And that means that a healthy workplace design has a very real effect on the bottom line for any company.

Recently, Dr. Cheung, founder of Cogency Environmental, was the principle investigator of a large peer reviewed multi-facility epidemiology research where over 7 thousand occupants with environmental complaints participated from over 350 study areas. Many building related issues were researched, including outcomes related to occupant health and wellbeing, asthma exacerbations, cancers, occupant stress, productivity, absenteeism and presenteeism .

If you have questions about your office/work place and how it could affect your employee’s health, wellness and productivity, contact the experts at Cogency at Cogency brings swift focus to office environment assessments, with our team of physicians, industrial hygienists and public health professions conducting targeted but thorough building inspections and interviews with affected or potentially affected employees. Cogency has a wealth of experience in diagnosing hard to detect building issues and peculiar occupant illnesses possibly related to environmental or toxicologic exposures.