Green Architecture – measuring productivity
The link of productivity to indoor environmental quality has been discussed, debated and analysed in laboratories for a long time. More recently we have seen productivity increases being used to calculate financial paybacks of better daylight, underfloor systems and much more.
We inherently know that we are more comfortable in environments that have better designed indoor conditions but can we really calculate a dollar value increase? Well, the trend of using sensors to track employee interactions in the US could be used to provide the answers.
Measuring Occupancy Productivity
The common approach at the moment is to use surveys to ask questions about how the employee feels within the space. This is usually done post occupancy ie to compare an old workplace to a new workplace. The surveys take a snap shot in time and can be influence by many outside circumstances – do I have a hangover? Am I going on holiday tomorrow?
A firm in the US called Sociometric Solutions is using big data to get a more accurate and longer term view on workplace design. They provide badges the size of an iphone that are worn whilst in a workplace environment as many weeks as you want. The sensors track location, conversation tone, and much more.
This has obvious big brother implications, much of which is covered Wall Street Journal article. But what interests me is how this could be used to look at the impact of indoor environmental quality on productivity.
Measuring the impact of indoor environmental quality
Being able to measure the long term impact of indoor environmental quality on productivity would be great. Using the sensors we could finally know what the most productive temperature is for an office space – some previous research says typing speed is optimum at 22.5degC but what about other activities?
How many more breaks are taken for different air temperatures?
Should meeting rooms be set to a colder temperature to keep people awake (sorry I mean alert)?
How much more or less work gets done if you have a view of outside?
Should break out spaces be set to different temperatures?
Does more fresh air really make a space more productive?
The sensors could provide real time and real place feedback rather than laboratory based studies.
We could finally know what impact the indoor environment really has on individuals productivity – if we can get over the big brother problem.