Control Over Lighting and Temperature Boosts Productivity

November 13, 2017

The great cold/hot predicament. It plagues offices all across the world and causes half of offices to bring a space heater and blanket to work and the other half to dress in shorts and a t-shirt during the day. It's impossible to please everyone with one single temperature setting.

It's also impossible to please everyone with brightness levels, with various employees suffering from eye strain or headaches in their workstation. There's no one-size fits all measure that makes everyone happy, so why don't we let individuals themselves make the decision?

Researchers at Purdue University are proving the theory that one size doesn’t fit all — and control makes a difference. New research from Purdue University’s Center for High Performance Buildings (CHPB), sponsored by global professional and real estate services firm JLL, shows having individual control of your workspace, such as lighting and temperature, improves overall workplace productivity and engagement.

"We’re looking for new data-driven insights and tools to help clients make informed, strategic business decisions about their facilities," says Leo O’Loughlin, senior director at JLL Energy and Sustainability Services. "Studies like this create real-world scenarios and data that we can bring to clients to help them create better workplaces for their employees."

In a two-year study, Purdue and JLL are exploring the effect of customizable indoor environmental conditions on building energy consumption and employee productivity and satisfaction. The goal is to use data related to individual workplace preferences to create smart building technologies.

To gather data, researchers installed workplace sensors to measure temperature, light levels and occupant actions as participants engaged in a regular eight-hour workday. One group of workers used customizable desktop computer controls, designed by the Purdue researchers, for individual control of light and temperature. Separately, another group worked in an office with standard wall-mounted thermostat and lighting controls.

The researchers found that the workers who could easily adjust room lighting and temperature from their computers were more engaged than those using the wall-mounted controls. They used less building energy by relying more on daylight than on artificial lighting. With light and temperature just right, these participants also reported higher levels of productivity and performed better in cognitive tests than the control group.

To read about more information on the JLL-CHPB study on individual control of workspace comfort systems, you can visit the JLL Blog