Productivity, Part Three: How personal comfort increases productivity

September 6, 2017

Cropped shot of three businesspeople looking over some paperwork in the officehttp://

This month we look at how focusing on making your employees more comfortable will boost productivity.


Studies have shown that employees who perceive their environment to be more comfortable are 25% more productive than employees who are uncomfortable. So by focusing on improving basic personal comforts like temperature, air quality, lighting, clean restrooms and building maintenance, you can boost productivity (and loyalty) markedly.



As you are probably aware, temperature is the biggest source of complaints in any office. A 2009 survey conducted by Career Builder found that 46% of employees were either too hot or too cold in their workplaces. It may seem that no matter what temperature you set, people will complain that it’s too hot or too cold even at that same temperature.


As it turns out, there is actually is an ideal temperature for the workplace. Setting the temperature between 69.8°F and 71.6°F will raise productivity, with 71.6°F being the deemed the perfect temperature according to a study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Environmental Energy Technologies. Also, consider the cost of having your office too cold—a Cornell University study found that cold workers make more errors and increase a worker’s hourly labor cost by 10%.



Employees who perceive office lighting as being “good” tend to rate their workplace as more attractive, which positively affects their mood and increases their engagement and job satisfaction. Lighting can be tricky, as different tasks require different kinds of light. Employees who are carrying out different activities should be given control over their local lighting. For open rooms, daylighting is a popular choice that can also save you money. In general, try to cut down on glare (blinds are a good option) and excess contrast. Avoid having one room too much darker than the next as it takes people’s eyes a few second to adjust, which can be disorienting and lead to headaches.


Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

A 2015 study by Harvard’s Center for Global Health and the Environment found “a doubling of cognitive performance scores for people who spent time in an optimized green building environment compared to when those same people worked in an indoor environment designed to simulate the conventional office building”.


Part of improving IAQ is about eliminating volatile organic compounds, but the most surprising part of the study was regarding carbon dioxide levels. When participants were moved from an environment with low-CO2 concentrations to a level typical for indoor office spaces (about 950 ppm), cognitive performance scores decreased by 15%. When employees were exposed to 1400 ppm of CO2, cognitive performance scores lowered by 50%.


To learn how to measure and improve your IAQ, visit the EPA website.

Another factor that can lead to a better perception of personal comfort a well-maintained facility including clean restrooms. A little extra attention to these details can make a drastic difference your employees’ productivity.


For help in improving productivity in your facility, contact Vanguard Resources.