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Workplace productivity

June 22, 2016 | 3 min read

How a green office can boost employee productivity

By: Bob Best

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Until recently, “greening” the office and creating one where employees are inspired to do their best work were seen as different activities. Now we’re beginning to draw a direct line from “green” to “productive” through management practices and physical characteristics that contribute to both.

On a base building level, “greening” generates numerous savings through features like energy-efficient systems and materials. But since most companies don’t own the buildings they work in, they are hesitant to invest in building improvements, even if they reduce energy costs.

Sustainability leaders, however, understand that a building is only as green as its occupants. After all, your people are the ones who consume the most energy, turn on the lights, generate waste and so forth.

Instead of looking at up-front expenses tied to green initiatives, sustainability leaders are asking,

“What is the employee experience and how does our corporate footprint support it—or hinder it?”

For example: 40% of your staff works remotely? Consolidate space and pay less to cool and heat it. Provide everyone with laptops rather than desktops for a more mobile experience. A 30W notebook with LCD screen uses around 80% less energy than its desktop counterpart. Even with an external monitor, the savings are well over 50%.

Where green and productive overlap

Of course, when you’re thinking about sustainability in your space, you have to think about the people inside it.

Consider lighting: Revolutionary lighting technologies are resulting in significant gains in energy efficiency. But the biggest potential benefit from improving lighting in the workplace may be the effect it can have on productivity.

Many offices still contain outdated lighting systems that were installed before we transitioned to screen-based tasks or understood the effects of daylight on health and productivity. Now that almost everyone is staring at monitors for hours at a time, the excessive lighting levels, flicker, glare and lack of daylight can be a major source of eyestrain, headaches and general dissatisfaction.

Here are some other sustainable office updates that can have a remarkable impact on employee comfort, health, happiness and productivity.

Measurable productivity gains

Improved acoustics Improved views, lighting & daylighting Improved thermal comfort & ventilation Improved ergonomics and privacy Green workplaces vs. non-green
+6% productivity +5.5% productivity +5% productivity +6% productivity +16% productivity

There are ways to be sustainable that simultaneously support comfort and health. Look for the sweet spot where green and productive overlap. Within it you’ll find reduced absenteeism and boosted engagement.

Interested in more workplace tips? Check out the rest of the series.

Top workplace tip #1: Design an effective open office
Top workplace tip #2: Organize by task
Top workplace tip #3: Stay flexible
Top workplace tip #4: Remove barriers to technology
Top workplace tip #5: Be a brand ambassador

For deeper insight, download the full eBook on the top workplace trends to try.

In it you’ll discover the reasons behind rapid workplace change, plus an in-depth look at all six strategies for planning a productive office.


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Ed Nolan

Ed Nolan

Senior Vice President, Workplace Strategy
Workplace Guru
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