New UK research, lead by Oxford Brookes University and LCMB, shows high CO2 concentrations in offices are decreasing people’s cognitive capability.
Office temperature and humidity levels are also key factors that undermine people’s productivity and wellbeing.
We all instinctively know that poor office conditions lead to dissatisfied, unproductive and unwell building occupants. However, until now the relationship between indoor environmental conditions and productivity has been largely studied only in the laboratory.
Whole Life Performance Plus (WLP+) is a £530,000 three-year study, with funding support by Innovate UK and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) that looked at people’s performance in real world environments. The research reveals how office environments can dramatically undermine people’s wellbeing and productivity.
Between February 2017 and October 2018, the WLP+ project monitored two office buildings that represent UK working conditions – one modern and one older building.
Workers from the two case study buildings took proofreading, numerical, and Stroop tests in a variety of indoor temperatures, CO2 levels and Relative Humidity conditions. Workers undertook a total of over 7,850 surveys and tasks to complete the analysis. The lessons learnt were applied in another ultra-modern building.
The research found that when CO2 levels were lowered, people completed the tests dramatically faster and scored better:
• Test scores improved by up to 12%
• Where test speed was measured in one building, people worked 60% faster in lower CO2 concentrations, taking a mean of 8.2 minutes to complete a test in low CO2 concentrations, compared with 13.3 minutes in modest CO2 concentrations.
The implications of this ground-breaking study are dramatic. Previous studies* have shown that UK productivity can be improved by between 2 and 3.5% by optimising workplaces, which equates to £40 – £70 billion of additional output to the UK economy.
Professor Rajat Gupta, Oxford Brookes University said:
We spend 90% of our time indoors and it’s crucial to understand how today’s climate-controlled environments are impacting the way we perform. Our research has developed an innovative approach for measuring and optimising indoor environmental conditions and workplace performance to create productive working environments. This ultimately could see better staff engagement and greater return on investment for businesses.
John O’Brien, MD and Founder, LCMB said:
This groundbreaking study provides insights that are valuable for every single UK company. This study highlights a relatively simple way for UK businesses and Government to increase the output of our economy by 2 to 3.5%, worth an additional £70 billion. LCMB has developed a workplace performance and productivity measurement and improvement methodology to help organisations improve their resource utilisation and return on investment based on the project findings.
About the WLP+ Project
The Whole Life Performance Plus (WLP+) project brings together a consortium of leading experts in building performance, property development and facilities management. LCMB Building Performance Ltd. and Low Carbon Building Research Group of Oxford Brookes University are co-leads on the project. The WLP+ solutions have been tested in office buildings managed by Argent (developer) and EMCOR UK (facilities management) and those owned and occupied by King’s College London. Throughout the project, findings have been disseminated by the British Council for Offices and Constructing Excellence.
Download the full report: WLP+ PROJECT REPORT
For more information please contact: John O’Brien, LCMB, t: 01295 722823, e: [email protected]