Green Is Good for Employees

Green It's all about fresh air, natural light and a comfortable temperature when it comes to workplace happiness and productivity, according to a recent study. And wouldn't you know that these just happen to be features associated with green buildings?

Jones Lang LaSalle recently released a Global Sustainability Perspective, which analyzed the connection between green buildings and employee productivity. They found that a comfortable and healthy workplace had a huge effect on the well-being of the workers within. Specifically, they found that the greener the building, the lower the absenteeism and the greater the productivity.

"When business people make a financial case for green buildings, they often focus on energy efficiency because the cost and benefit are easily measured," said Dan Probst, chairman of Energy and Sustainability Services at Jones Lang LaSalle. "But the opportunity to increase employee productivity even by a few percentage points is a much greater financial plus."

Green workspaces don't necessarily have to be expensive, either. Jones Lang LaSalle gives a number of tips for making offices healthier, and they cost very little, if anything. For example, moving printers and copiers away from workstations to minimize the effects of toner dust pollution and cut down on bothersome noise pollution can be extremely effective. Also, you can switch to chemical-free cleaning supplies, which, in some instances, are less expensive.

Another way to keep employees green, happy and productive, and keep utility and usage costs down, involves giving workers more control of their own spaces, rather than having computer systems operate entire rooms or floors. This can be accomplished by:

  • Letting employees control ventilation near their own work spaces.
  • Giving workers control of their own task lighting by providing small lamps, blinds and shades over windows -- that way, if just a few people are working, the entire room doesn't have to be brightly lit.
  • Take advantage of as much natural light as possible, and schedule working hours at times when it can be most effective.
  • Get input from workers about temperature levels -- is the air conditioning so cold employees are shivering and putting on sweaters? Is it so hot that they're bringing their own fans?
The study also pointed out that a comfortable worker is a productive worker. Suggestions for making employees more comfortable include educating them on proper ergonomic practices, such as desk posture and hand position on a keyboard. Also, as old chairs wear out, replace them with new ones that are more ergonomic.

"It may be impossible to know exactly how a specific feature in a workplace will affect the productivity of workers in that space, but we do know that many strategies to make buildings more sustainable also enhance occupant well-being and promote health, and those factors lead to higher productivity," Probst said.

If you think your employers are slacking off in any of these areas and could easily make a swtich, you might want to bring this to their attention. If they're going to rearrange the office and get new chairs anyway, they may as well get the most out of their money, time and effort.

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