UK Office Workers ‘Distracted by Heat’

Overheating in British offices is creating a distraction that has a significant impact on productivity, research has shown.

The ‘Fellowes Productivity in the UK’ report found half of office workers admit to being unproductive for up to an hour every day. The authors noted this is equivalent to over 21 million lost working days every month.

And for 37% of people, being too hot was a cause of distraction, placing temperature behind IT problems and chats with colleagues, but ahead of uncomfortable chairs and workstations. Darryl Brunt, a director at Fellowes, said the research highlighted the importance of making changes to improve comfort and wellbeing in the office.

“It’s clear that our workplace has a huge effect on our productivity and our report shows a real need for businesses to take heed,” he added.

Productivity in Decline

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics showed UK productivity fell 0.5% in the first quarter of 2017, putting it at the worst level in nearly ten years and reversing a recent upward trend. The problem is likely to focus employers’ minds on ways to improve employee comfort, and good mechanical design is one way they can avoid overheating problems.

Thermal comfort was also the focus of recent warnings issued by the Committee on Climate Change, which said many buildings are at risk of overheating because of poor ventilation and too much glass. New-build hospitals, care homes and schools could suffer, the committee warned, as regulations focus on keeping buildings warm in winter, but high summer temperatures are overlooked.

Baroness Brown of Cambridge, deputy chair of the committee, said heat is a “significant” problem. “We know it’s bad for productivity, we know it’s bad for wellbeing and we know it’s bad for health, yet building regulations don’t cover heat and the management of high temperatures.”

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