Have you ever had to referee a thermostat battle at the office? Have you ever had to shed layers of clothing in the winter or bundle up in the summer because of erratic temperature fluctuations? Have you ever experienced an allergy attack after a dusty HVAC system was disturbed?

Chances are, you can relate to at least one of these scenarios. Chances are also high that your productivity and that of your employees wasn't very high on those occasions.

This article discusses how office comfort can help your employees become more productive and five ways to make your office energy-efficient and employee-friendly.

How a comfortable work environment enhances employee productivity

Office air quality, lighting style, and temperature consistency can have a direct correlation to employee productivity.

Of course, other factors come into play; ergonomic workstations, employee mental health, company policies, and workload - but a poor physical environment can lead to mistakes and eventually burnout.

Natural lighting, consistent temperatures, and a clean and well-maintained HVAC system can increase employee focus, boost morale, and ensure productivity.

Top energy-efficient tips to make your office more employee-friendly

Not sure where to start? First, look at these tips to boost energy efficiency in your workspace.

Second, if you are an industrial or commercial facility, book an energy walk-through for your business. Not only is this service free, but it provides you with a valuable report that shows your energy use, how to increase energy efficiency, and save money.

You may even be eligible for rebates of  25 percent for any energy-efficient upgrades you perform.

1: Use dim lighting or take advantage of natural daylight

Many fluorescent light bulbs sometimes flicker due to poor connection, faulty ballast or defective lamp.  The resultant flickering effect can cause headaches, vision disturbances, and other health-related issues - especially for those employees with pre-existing light sensitivity or vision issues.

Of course, this can be extraordinarily detrimental to employee productivity, especially when many employees also look at computer screens for a significant portion of the day - further exacerbating eye strain.

Consider upgrading to energy-efficient LED lighting or upgrading electrical equipment to reduce the flicker effect.

The best solution is natural daylight - not to mention the most affordable. Whenever possible, dim or turn off fluorescent lighting in favour of natural light. You can expect to see immediate benefits for yourself as well as your employees. There are also daylight sensors available that can be installed to automatically control the light fixtures once enough natural light is detected.

2: Use energy-efficient heating and cooling systems

An energy-efficient HVAC system is money in your pocket.

The Government of Canada uses the EnerGuide rating system for many appliances. The EnerGuide rating gives consumers a snapshot of the energy efficiency of the unit in comparison with others.

The EnerGuide label is voluntary for central air conditioners and other HVAC appliances, so if you see one on a central air conditioning unit - you can trust it performs well.

To help your HVAC system perform well, be sure to clean the air filter regularly. A clogged HVAC unit can cause the unit to work harder than necessary, potentially resulting in damage.

Ensure your HVAC unit has regular tune-ups and call for repairs as soon as you notice something amiss. If the unit is over 10 to 15 years old, consider replacing it.

3: Install programmable thermostats

A smart thermostat could make a significant difference to your work environment. No more office battles over the thermostat.

A smart thermostat learns from office behaviour and adjusts the temperature accordingly after your staff have left for the day.

Not only will it learn from your behaviour, but it's also easily customizable with a mobile app or computer. Some smart thermostat software programs provide consumers with usage data to identify problem areas and correct them.

A further improvement here would be to install a Building Automation System (BMS) that controls all aspects of your energy use as it pertains to your particular building. Using sensors built into the lighting, refrigeration and HVAC system, a computer can be programmed to run everything a certain way within certain parameters. This allows full control and access to your energy use.

4: Upgrade to ENERGY STAR certified equipment

When you take Canada's EnerGuide rating and combine it with ENERGY STAR® certified equipment, the result is a dynamite combination for energy efficiency.

ENERGY STAR® certified equipment is considered the top of the line for energy-saving capabilities.

Most light fixtures, HVAC systems, and other workplace equipment can be ENERGY STAR® certified.

Did you know that a central air conditioning unit with an ENERGY STAR® certification can be up to 8 percent more energy-efficient than the standard model?

Comfortable employees, better performance!

Using these tips are just some of the ways you as an employer can increase the comfort of your employees in the workplace.

When employees see that you care about their well-being and comfort, this can raise morale and boost productivity.

Besides the energy walk-through and rebates provided by NB Power, did you know they also offer an ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager?

This valuable tool is easy to set up and provides you and your team with valuable data and trends regarding your workplace greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption.

Why not make the most of every tool you have available when it comes to energy efficiency and employee comfort?

FAQ

How can we make our office more energy efficient?

Use daylight sensors and take advantage of natural daylight, use high efficient heating and cooling systems, and install smart thermostats or even a Building Management System for intelligent controls and energy consumption data.

How can organizations reduce their energy use in an office environment?

  • Using smart thermostats
  • Changing to LED light fixtures and use natural light when possible
  • Performing energy audits

How does energy efficiency boost employee productivity?

When employers ensure their workplace is energy efficient, this often means:

  • Reduced noise
  • Better lighting (usually natural lighting)
  • Consistent temperatures

All of which can help employees focus and perform better during their shift.