Energy efficiency in the workplace continues to be a hot topic.  But while businesses talk about reduced costs and lower carbon emissions, there’s a hidden consequence of smart energy measures that might be of even greater importance: happier, healthier, more productive workers.

A bright workspace breeds bright workers

The British should be familiar with the negative effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). After all, we do frequently have overcast skies.  And the winter months mean that a high number of workers are both waking up to darkness and returning home to it.

According to Mental Health Research UK, going without daily sunlight can lead to lethargy and depression. While an estimated 1 million working hours are lost each year due to the appropriately named SAD.

So how does all this relate to schemes to improve our business energy usage?

Office layouts that allow plenty of natural light – through windows and skylights – reduce the need for electrical lighting throughout the day, as well as offering the chance for stress-reducing views of nature.  So by choosing a greener setting, you’re may also have a positive effect on the stress levels of your workforce.

Better airflow leads to better work-flow

Healthcare premises have seen a substantial correlation between ventilation and a reduction in the spread of infectious diseases.  What’s more, studies have shown that a doubling of ventilation rates in offices can lead to a 35% decrease in short-term absences, which could mean a significant boost in productivity and morale.

Ventilation also has an impact on a building’s heat loss, as well as reducing damage caused by mould and condensation.

A satisfying temperature means satisfied employees

Unsurprisingly, the comfort of your workers can have a notable impact on their performance and productivity.

Scientific studies in the US on the relationship between temperature and work performance found that there’s a sweet spot for optimal productivity. In the case of office environments, 71 degrees Fahrenheit (about 22 degrees Celsius).  As the temperature started to creep a few degrees up or down, scientists noted a substantial decrease in relative performance.

Luckily, with the latest technology in smart thermostats becoming available, you should be able find the right balance between maximising productivity and minimising your bills.

Internet search leaders Google are well aware of the benefits of creating the right environment for their employees.  Anne Less, [e]Team Innovation Program Manager, says that energy efficiency is ‘a huge focus’ for Google, and that there is ‘a strong correlation between workplace satisfaction and temperature, and similarly with Googlers’ self-reported productivity’.

Don’t forget the hidden costs

In general, businesses usually spend more on their people than they do on their energy bills.  And that means that, when your energy-saving schemes have a positive effect on your people, they’ll also have a positive effect on your overall costs.  Healthcare bills, sick pay, and lost productivity due to absences could all see improvements thanks to your efforts towards a greener enterprise.

Has your business seen a rise in employee wellbeing following a commitment to a greener workspace?  If so, let us know.

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