Office Harmony: Solving the Top 3 Comfort Conflicts
Posted on July 30, 2014
Every employer knows that the secret to staff productivity is keeping their employees comfortable and happy in the office.
However, that is not always as easy as it seems. Environmental factors can affect the comfort levels of employees, and it is in the employer’s best interests to sort these out before they have a detrimental effect on productivity.
There are many things that can affect the comfort of employees, but by far the biggest three are temperature, light and noise. As well as ensuring correct office health and safety at all times, you should also make sure your employees are as comfortable as possible. So how can you keep everyone happy?
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When it comes to light in the office, the most important thing to remember is that natural light is essential. An office without enough natural light can become an oppressive and unhealthy environment to work in. Not many people will complain about there being too much natural light in the office, but many will be unhappy if there is not enough.
Inserting more windows could be an option if you have the budget and do not mind the disruption. You may even consider moving offices to one with more natural light.
If neither of these are suitable options, redesigning your office space may be more appropriate. Moving desks nearer to the windows could help to minimise the problem, and you could also consider redecorating the office in brighter colours to make up for the lack of light.
In the situation where you cannot increase the amount of natural light in the office, make sure you invest in high-quality lighting so that every employee at least has enough light to work in properly without having to strain their eyes.
Too much noise can be very frustrating for your employees, and it can come in two forms: internal and external. Internal noise is that produced within the office itself, and it can consist of loud conversations, mobile phone ringtones, noisy printers and photocopiers, the kitchen radio and more.
Combat an excess of noise by introducing rules about speaking on phones and holding conversations in work areas. Keep the kitchen and break room far from the work areas, and ensure that your employees are respectful of others. A rule where everyone has to put their mobiles on vibrate could also be an option.
You could also move from an open-plan office to individual offices, allowing people to close the door and block out the noise. You may want to dedicate one room as a quiet area where employees can go to think and be creative without being disturbed.
External noise is that produced outside the office. It could be the sound of traffic from the busy road outside or the banging on the floor from the office above. The options here involve physical changes to the office. Consider installing triple glazing windows to block out the sound from the street outside, or even making the walls and ceiling thicker or adding extra insulation to prevent too much sound from getting through.
Temperature is the most difficult of the three to get right because there may be a divide in the office between those who feel too hot and those who feel too cold. The law states that the temperature should be ‘reasonable’, but this could vary depending on the setting. The ideal is to try and keep the temperature stable throughout the year – about 21 or 22 degrees is usually optimal. Too much hotter and productivity begins to take a hit.
If you receive complaints from your employees, the first thing to consider is a new heating or air conditioning system to improve the environment throughout the office. Companies like www.airconditioningservices.com that provide modern systems may be just what you are after, and this could go a long way to combating complaints.
Alternatively, consider redesigning your office to provide employees with individual office spaces that they can control depending on how hot or cold they feel. Some areas of the office may be cooler or hotter than others, so you may want to move your staff around accordingly.
Keep Your Staff Happy and Productive
However you go about it, the important thing is to make sure you do not ignore any complaints from your employees. Always listen to your employees and if there are problems that are preventing them working to their full potential, try to come up with solutions. Light, noise and temperature can all affect your staff and prevent you from getting the most out of them, so do whatever you can to make your office a comfortable, happy and productive environment.
Jamie Wall is a human resources guru with years of experience. With a keen understanding of workplace psychology and innovative management strategies, she loves blogging about her insights and techniques for a productive and satisfying work environment.