‘Extreme work temperatures can be bad for your business’—Concepcion BIS
Rajan Komarasu, Group Director of Concepcion Building and Industrial Solutions, urges employers to ensure their employees’ thermal comfort, an endeavor which can also
translate to energy savings for the business.
The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services (PAGASA) has warned Filipinos to be ready for hotter temperatures year-round. This has prompted the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to urge employers to mitigate the effects of extreme heat in the workplace. What may not be readily apparent is that extreme work temperatures in the workplace do not just affect employees, but also carry with them financial costs for the business, in particular, by decreasing productivity.
Several studies have found that temperatures can affect employees’ productivity. However, addressing productivity is not simply just providing air-conditioning units and setting them on full blast. It is just as essential for employers to ensure that employees work in the right conditions, including the right temperature.
Rajan Komarasu, Group Director of Concepcion Building and Industrial Solutions (BIS), explains that building engineers consider different factors to ensure that a building’s indoor temperature is comfortable and good for the health of its occupants. “Aside from ambient air temperature, we also need to factor in radiant heat, humidity, and air speed—all these on top of the building occupants’ metabolic rate and clothing,” he explains.
While studies to date show that finding the ideal thermostat for all parties involved has been elusive, especially because thermal satisfaction differs from person to person, Komarasu emphasizes that building operators and employers should still be conscious about creating a comfortable work environment for employees.
“Aiming for employees’ thermal comfort can result in a range of advantages, from better relationships and collaboration, higher employee morale and productivity, lower electricity costs, to having a smaller building carbon footprint,” he adds.
Why office temperature matters
Studies have shown that office temperature can affect employees’ performance, moods, and motivations, hence their productivity, and, most importantly, their overall health.
A study by Cornell University on the link between workplace temperature and productivity found that when office workers feel too cold, their performance drops. When the work environment drops to 20 degrees Celsius, employees commit more typing errors and work more slowly, compared to when the physical environment is about 25 degrees Celsius or comfortably warm for the worker, which makes them work more efficiently. Similar studies have illustrated how comfortable temperatures can improve learning abilities like focus and memorization.
Meanwhile, Yale University psychologists noted that extremely high temperatures can make one feel lethargic, hence, less productive, a behavior that is more evident during the summer and resulting in more frequent absenteeism. On the other hand, extremely low temperatures in the workplace can increase an employee’s feelings of sadness and loneliness, and affect his ability to accomplish a certain task.
Nature Climate Change Journal also published a study that claimed that standard building temperatures are based on a formula from the 60s that uses only the metabolic rates of males. Metabolic rates differ based on gender, and women typically have lower metabolisms than men. This means that the standards have been biased towards the metabolic rates of men, who feel comfortable in temperatures that already feel too chilly for women. Similarly, the Association for Psychological Science found that women worked more efficiently when the office environment was kept at a temperature that feels slightly warmer for men.
In terms of work temperatures’ effects on employees’ health, according to the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration, extreme temperatures can lead to serious illnesses. “We need to ensure that our workplaces maintain a reasonable temperature that is good for the health and wellbeing of employees,” emphasizes Komarasu. Sky-high temperatures put employees at risk of heat stress, fatigue, exhaustion, or worse, heat stroke. In the same way, extreme cold at work puts employees at risk of cold stress, early symptoms of which may include shivering, fatigue, decreased coordination, and disorientation and confusion.
In terms of reducing energy consumption, sticking to a standard temperature can be beneficial for the business. The Department of Energy has been urging the private sector to save on energy use by setting the air-conditioning thermostat limit to 25 degrees Celsius, especially in the summer when demand is higher. “Complying with guidelines like this can help reduce a company’s operating expenses and also reduce its carbon footprint,” Komarasu notes.
For its part, CIC and Concepcion BIS launched the Green Footprints Movement, which aims to encourage the public and various industries to reduce their environment footprint. “In line with consciously reducing our energy consumption, we need to actively choose technologies that leave a smaller impact on the environment. Our commitment is for more people to have greater access to environment-friendly and cost-efficient products, which is why since 2015, we have been focusing on converting our refrigerants to non-ozone depleting ones,” adds Komarasu.
Ensuring workplace productivity for all
Komarasu emphasizes that building operators and employers have a responsibility to provide a healthy workplace for employees. “It’s a fact that temperature affects people differently, and it may be virtually impossible to find that sweet spot in the thermostat that would please everyone. This is why we need to keep innovating to find new ways to maximize employee comfort and productivity,” he says.
“We are constantly pushing the envelope on technology and intelligent design to achieve the most efficient and innovative cooling systems that can address our clients’ specific concerns,” Komarasu adds. “As building engineers, we can make this possible by building smarter buildings and more efficient environmental control systems in the workplace.”
Concepcion BIS is the commercial arm of publicly-listed Concepcion Industrial Corp. (CIC), and houses the brands Carrier, Midea, Toshiba, and Otis. Developers, architects, engineers, or building operators interested to speak with Concepcion BIS regarding their building needs may call (02) 8888-247 (BIS), or call toll-free by dialing 1-800-10-8888-247 (BIS).
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