Is Your Office a Downer? Five Green Design Secrets of Best Places to Work

Is your office bringing you down, with depressing lighting, stuffy air, too hot or too cold temperatures, no outdoor views and too much noise? These office design elements not only make employees unhappy at work, they also make them less productive, according to a new report released at the Greenbuild International Conference today from the World Green Building Council (WGBC) and JLL (NYSE: JLL).

\”Employees have instinctively known for years that the physical features of an office can make them feel inspired, connected and energetic, or sluggish, isolated and less motivated,\” said Bob Best, Executive Vice President of Energy & Sustainability Services, JLL. \”Our report demonstrates just how much physical office space can affect employee productivity.\”

Best cites the WGBC and JLL report titled Health, well-being and productivity in offices: The next chapter for green building to unearth five secrets about how green offices create a better place to work:

1. I Need Some Clean Air

Improving air quality can make a big difference in how office workers feel and function at work. According to the report, numerous studies show that high levels of CO2 and volatile organic compounds (VOCs, which are common in building materials) make employees feel tired and less able to think clearly. In particular, a 2011 lab test mimicking an office with high levels of VOCs found that increasing ventilation improved workplace performance by eight percent. Air temperature makes a difference, too; employee productivity declines by four percent when the office is too cold and by six percent when it is too hot.

2. Office Workers\’ New Best Friend: A Pet Plant

Bioliphilia, which is the concept that humans connect with other living things, is an emerging area of workplace design and it\’s good news for employees. A plant — yes, a live plant — can help lower office stress, improve cognitive function and enhance creativity. Make sure to have a plant in sight at work and occasionally gaze around the office, as views of other groups or the outdoors create visual breaks that make office workers more productive.

3. Let The Sunshine In

Office workers should sit near a window or take a walk outside during the workday. It not only makes them happier, it also leads to higher-quality sleep that in turn boosts productivity. Many traditional office layouts only allow senior managers to have access to natural light, so reconfiguring the workplace ensures everyone can see the light.

4. Dial Down The Decibels

Noise pollution is consistently reported as a major cause of workplace dissatisfaction, and one 1998 study found that participants\’ ability to memorize prose dropped by 66 percent when exposed to distracting noise. Offices should have a variety of work spaces so employees are empowered to work in a collaborative, discussion space or individual, heads-down space, reducing excess noise and increasing staff productivity.

5. Give Me Some Space

In the quest to cut costs, many companies have adopted open office plans, \”hot-desking\” and other new workplace design concepts. Done well, these approaches reduce carbon footprints while providing quiet, private workspaces, meeting areas and informal social spaces. Done poorly, employee productivity suffers across the board. Companies that create unique workplace strategies tailored to their corporate culture and business goals will have employees with happy, healthy relationships with their office, and won\’t be asking for more space or to \”take a break.\”

\”The key for employers is to quantify the relationship between environmental sustainability and employee productivity though data-driven measurements, and then use that data to inform a company\’s workplace strategy, CSR and business goals,\” added Best.

This correlation can be measured through a JLL program and online tool called Green + Productive™ Workplace. JLL\’s tool compiles scores for both sustainability and productivity measures in an office, which can pinpoint specific activities in need of improvement and establish a baseline to maximize the use of space, reduce natural-resource consumption, provide an efficient workplace and demonstrate proof of corporate social responsibility — meanwhile improving employee engagement, wellness and productivity.

The Health, well-being and productivity in offices: The next chapter for green building report is based on an exhaustive review of primary research reports, along with insights from more than 75 industry and academic experts representing myriad disciplines, sectors and locations. The report covers research relating to indoor air quality; thermal comfort; natural and artificial lighting; noise and acoustics; office layout; views and biophilia; office look and feel; building location and access to amenities. It also proposes a framework for measuring the financial, perceptual and physical impacts of green investments.


Source: CNN Money

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