The five biggest office worker grumbles

5:00 AM Saturday March 25, 2017 Colin Taylor

Poor air conditioning and a lack of privacy are among the top five complaints of New Zealand office workers. Photo / Supplied

Poor air conditioning is the biggest gripe among employees working within commercial office buildings, according to a New Zealand Office Insight Survey conducted by Colliers International.

Also, rating in the top five complaints about working conditions are: too much noise, a lack of privacy, insufficient bathroom and shower facilities, and the availability of meeting rooms or lack of amenities within meeting rooms.

The survey which gathered information from office workers about how their offices could be improved is featured in the newColliersLEASE magazine.

“Air conditioning and temperature control is the big one. The survey has found 55 per cent of New Zealand office workers have problems with the temperature of their offices,” says Chris Farhi, international strategic consulting director for Colliers.

Farhi says the complaint is a serious one for employers and building owners because temperature is strongly linked to worker productivity.

A Cornell University survey found typing or keyboard error rates rise above 10 per cent when temperatures fall outside of 20°C to 25°C.

“Typing is a fairly simple task, but add the complexity of the creative work required by most office professionals, and the ability to achieve genuinely good quality work will be significantly impacted,” Farhi says.

“Buildings typically target 21°C to 22°C but maintaining a stable temperature is technically challenging. Even the fanciest new office buildings operate within a control range so some variation is expected.”

Farhi says regularly monitoring the office environment and seeking feedback from staff can help to identify problems so that they can be solved quickly.

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A survey found office keyboard error rates rise above 10 per cent when temperatures fall outside of 20°C to 25°C. Photo / Supplied

“In the first instance, we recommend seeking advice from the facilities manager.”

Solutions could include improved maintenance of the air conditioning plant by technicians and/or service engineers and appropriate placement of outlets relative to seating arrangements.

Another problem area identified in the office survey is bathrooms.

“Our early results show an interesting trend with 25 per cent of respondents reporting problems with their office bathrooms and showers,” Farhi says.

Among the issues are poor standards of cleanliness, unisex bathrooms in offices where women prefer separate female facilities, and a lack of shower and changing facilities for people who cycle to work

However, Farhi says it’s not all bad news. “An easy way to help boost staff productivity is to provide quality coffee.”

Farhi points to the Leesman Index – a global workplace survey with 200,000 respondents from 1700 buildings – which has found coffee, tea and refreshment facilities consistently rank among the most important features of an efficient workplace.

The only office aspect to rank higher in this index was the quality and suitability of desks and chairs.

Farhi says coffee is especially important in the high-growth tech industry where “even the smallest businesses have good quality coffee machines.

“Why? Well, attracting and retaining the best people is a challenge for all tech businesses. The best people know they are in demand and keeping them happy is critical.”

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Chris Farhi, Colliers International.