Personal comfort at the desk affects productivity, comfort, and well-being. When talking about personal comfort, what we’re really talking about is the quality of the workspace environment at large, or Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ). Factors that contribute to IEQ include Indoor Air Quality, temperature, light, and acoustics. Each are a vital aspect of workplace ergonomics.
An optimal working environment supports an optimal workflow — or productivity.
Let’s take a look at air quality, for instance. The research proving a link between office air quality and cognitive functioning is overwhelming. A recent study finds that cognitive scores are 61% higher in offices with fresh, well-circulated air.
In brief: enhancing the quality of air in the workplace benefits productivity on a macro level.
“Green building design that optimizes employee productivity and energy usage will require adopting energy-efficient systems and informed operating practices to maximize benefits to human health while minimizing energy consumption.” -Investigation of Desiccants and CO2 Sorbents for Advanced Exploration Systems. 2016.
Thermal comfort also unlocks this productivity benefit. When the office temperature is raised to the ideal range, accuracy can be expected to improve by 44%. While output can be expected to increase by an incredible 150%. People overwhelming self-report that the temperature in their workspace affects their ability to concentrate.
For colleagues in the office that tend to be too hot, a desktop cooling fan combined with a cooling seat cushion could be the ideal product bundle. Our Cool-Gel Seat Cushion reduces the body’s temperature while promoting a healthy posture. And our CoolView™ Wellness Monitor Stand brings a cooling airflow to the desk while raising the monitor to the ideal height.
#2. Physical Comfort
Environmental comfort and physical comfort go hand in hand in the workplace.
As a practical example, take the temperature. When the temperature in the workplace is too cold for employees, their muscles will tense up. And tension creates pain and discomfort. Accordingly, maintaining a temperature ideal for working improves physical comfort.
The link between environmental and physical comfort is strong across numerous elements. Consider that optimizing the office lighting (an environmental component of work ergonomics) is shown to improve morale but will also reduce eye fatigue (a physical benefit). Or that removing odors in the air (an environmental component) contributes to a stronger sense of well-being but also prevents nausea and other ultimately physical ailments caused by indoor air pollutants.
For colleagues in the office that tend to run cold, the WarmView™ Wellness Monitor Stand is a great product. Charged by USB, the energy-efficient unit warms the air of the workspace and doubles as a monitor stand. Employees can achieve thermal and ergonomic comfort with one product.
#3 Allergies, asthma, and sickness overall
High-quality air is key to health and well-being in the workplace. For those who suffer from allergies, asthma, and other illnesses, the air at work is essentially the ‘tonic’ or the ‘toxic’ they are inhaling each day. For this reason, taking proper measures to clean and circulate the office air protects all employee health.
It’s valuable to note that poor indoor air quality is also the primary cause of Sick Building Syndrome; conversely, investing in the air quality is a long-term investment in the health of the workforce. For more on this, check out our article for a breakdown of the EPA’s 3-pronged strategy to improve your office’s air quality.
One of the most effective and affordable ways to improve the quality of the air at work is by using desktop air purifiers. These pollutant-trapping machines bring fresh air directly to the personal workspace. Our FreshView™ Air Purifier is a portable, compact, quiet, and efficient air purifying unit that traps 99.9% of the pollutants in the office (including the ones that cause asthma and allergies).
Workers that are healthy — physically, mentally, and emotionally — take less sick days. In fact, employees in offices with better daylight take an average of 6.5% fewer sick days than those in offices with a poor quality of light.
The science is in consensus. The comfort of the office environment directly affects work performance, comfort, and health. But what about our sense of well-being?
“Environmental stressors reduce occupant wellbeing (mood, headaches, and feeling ‘off’) causing indirect reductions in work performance. Improving IEQ (Indoor Environmental Quality) will likely produce small but pervasive increases in productivity.”-A longitudinal investigation of work environment stressors on the performance and wellbeing of office workers. 2016.
Though one can certainly testify from their own experience, leading research proves a strong connection between job performance and well-being at work. When our office environment is free of environmental stressors (uncomfortable temperature, noisy space, odor-filled air…), we are more motivated, more energized, and more focused. These benefits indirectly improve our sense of well-being.
It follows that improving the quality of the office’s environment improves well-being overall.
#6. Mental health, stress, and burnout
Mental health, stress, and burnout in the workplace are all aspects of the same issue. Work can be incredibly stressful. When each element of the working environment supports productivity and comfort, however, mental health is holistically supported. Through this focus, stress and burnout are prevented.
Look at it from a practical standpoint. Employees with ergonomic equipment, fresh air, and the ideal temperature range perform at their best. They can more easily unplug at the end of the day’s work. And unplugging is critical for avoiding burnout. Here we see how productivity, work satisfaction, and mental health feed into one another naturally.
And from the standpoint of air quality in particular, well, fresh air relieves stress. Simple as that. Bearing this in mind, a product like the FreshView™ is an outstanding piece of ergonomic equipment that supports mental health in the office. That is: it delivers the stress-relieving benefits of fresh air on the spot. How’s that for an immediate ROI in air quality?
“...people’s creativity not only depends on their individual characteristics, in fact the amount of which a person generates new, useful, and valuable ideas depends on the support that is received from the work environment…”-A Workplace to Support Creativity. 2014.
The office environment can stimulate or stymie creativity. Research published in Human Factors and Ergonomics in Manufacturing & Service Industries highlights the importance of designing the office to support creativity. How, exactly? Through biophilic design, ideal lighting conditions, and thoughtfully-chosen colors, for instance. This, to catalyze your team’s creative potential.
Funny enough, odors in the office are proven to affect mood and creative output, too. The research on this connection highlights the ‘why’ of good environmental ergonomics in the workplace. Namely: people are highly sensitive to every aspect of their working environment. And improving each aspect improves comfort, productivity, health, and well-being. What follows is a reduction in stress overall.
#8. Employee morale
Interestingly, employees whose roles are more creative in nature prefer a warmer workplace. This connection underscores the need to give employees control over the environment of their workspace. We all have unique preferences concerning what the ‘ideal working environment’ looks like, after all.
“Office design and ambient [or environmental] conditions within the workplace affect employees’ well-being, satisfaction, productivity, and performance (both in creative and routine tasks).”-A Workplace to Support Creativity. 2014.
Employees with control over the environment of their workspace have control over the factors that directly affect their ability to concentrate, find comfort at the desk, and produce at their highest level. This agency enhances morale. Moreover, people with the agency over their working environment are less likely to experience workplace burnout.
The WellView™ family is an ideal product line that delivers personal comfort in the office. The air purifier (FreshView™), heater (WarmView™), or fan insert (CoolView™) fits right into the unit’s home monitor stand and can be easily swapped out to accommodate different seasons and preferences.
#9. Eye Care
Light is a pillar of Indoor Environmental Quality. As it follows, it is also an important factor of health and well-being at work.
Improving the office space’s lighting not only benefits mental health and well-being but prevents Computer Vision Syndrome: a catch-all phrase used to describe eye-related injuries caused by prolonged computer use. Using protective tools such as privacy screens can also aid in this arena by reducing glare and blocking computer blue light. Otherwise, excessive blue light can inhibit melatonin production. Consequently, privacy screens contribute to a greater quality of sleep, helping prevent burnout.
If you use a monitor arm and want to protect your eyes see our article How to Adjust Your Monitor Arm for A Comfortable Posture and Healthy, Happy Eyes.
#10. Competitive advantage
“A healthy, happy workforce is a vital component of a productive, successful business in the long-term.”-World Green Building Council
When your team is functioning at their happiest, healthiest, and highest level, they make for a strong competitive advantage.
Fresh air in the office can even be equated with a dollar increase in employee output. Doubling the air ventilation rate in the office building results in an 8% improvement in employee performance. This 8% improvement equals a $6,500 increase in productivity overall, each year. Here we can see how improving Indoor Environmental Quality is quite a powerful approach for sharpening your competitive advantage: the productivity, health, and well-being of your workforce.
As we broaden our focus on office ergonomics to include the quality of the working environment, it’s important to take preferences into consideration. We all have a different idea of what the ideal workstation looks and feels like. That’s why our team considers it critical to give employees total control over the environmental aspects of their personal workspace. And equipment such as desktop space heaters and air purifiers are an economical way to afford this control. If your aim is to improve the comfort, productivity, health, and well-being of each member of your team, giving them the tools they need to achieve personal comfort at their desk is a surefire way to reach it.
Check out Kensington’s Ergonomic Products for more ideas on improving your personal comfort.