When indoor temperatures and relative humidity exceed certain thresholds, there is a direct correlation with losses in worker productivity. In hot and humid climates like ours, maintaining a constant and optimized indoor temperature and relative humidity level is key to create a comfortable work environment, and maintain optimum worker productivity levels.
So, what happens to our productivity if indoor cooling and humidity are suboptimal?
The indoor temperature exceeds 24 degrees Celsius
According to a study by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), worker productivity loss can start to occur when indoor temperatures exceed 24 degrees Celsius. The study found that for every degree Celsius that the indoor temperature increases above 24 degrees Celsius, productivity can decrease by up to 2%.
Example: If the indoor temperature is 25 degrees Celsius, productivity could decrease by up to 4%. And if the indoor temperature is 26 degrees, productivity could decrease by up to 6%.
Ideal relative indoor humidity 30 – 50%
According to a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), worker productivity loss can start to occur when indoor humidity exceeds 50%. The study found that for every 10% increase in humidity above 50%, productivity can decrease by up to 2%.
Example: If the indoor humidity is 60%, productivity could decrease by up to 4%. And if the indoor humidity is 70%, productivity could decrease by up to 6%
Worker well-being saves us money
These studies also found that the impact of temperature and humidity on productivity is not the same for everyone. A worker’s physical fitness and age affect how their body reacts, and thus the impact on their productivity levels, when the indoor comfort levels are not meeting these comfort standards.
Not only hurt poor indoor comfort levels our worker well-being and a good health standard, they also negatively impact companies financially. Poor comfort levels lead to less output and increased worker absenteeism due to sickness, both of which increase labor costs substantially.
Example: The overall absenteeism rate in the UAE is 3.5%, of which 35% relates to unplanned absences due to sickness. NIOSH estimates that approximately 7% of sickness related absenteeism, can be attributed to poor indoor comfort levels. In short, poor indoor comfort costs companies a lot of money!
Invest in cleaning HVAC coils
In our region we spend no less than 90% of our time indoors, in air-conditioned spaces. And a lot of that time we spend at place of work. Whilst we take proper space cooling for granted, maintenance of the building’s HVAC systems is an ongoing and regular requirement, to not exceed the optimum comfort levels. In conclusion, investment in periodic preventative coil maintenance cannot be seen as a facilities management or engineering expense only. It is important to maintain worker well-being and productivity, and ultimately save significant costs, related to loss in productivity.