It may sound crazy to give your employees control of their own thermostats, but it may just make them more productive.
Business Insider spoke with Emma Stewart, chief business development officer at Impact Infrastructure to find out what could be done around an office building to increase productivity. Impact Infrastructure runs simulations to find out how a company can alter its offices in a way that benefits both the environment and worker productivity.
Impact Infrastructure uses Autocase software to customise recommendations for each company, because not every company has the same building size or materials to work with. Some suggestions might work for certain companies, but not other companies, which is why customisation is so important.
We asked Stewart to run a few simulations of changes companies can make to yield higher productivity, using an average office building in San Francisco as her example.
Here’s what she came up with:
If you give 60% of your employees access to control their own thermal comfort, you could see a 3.7% increase in productivity and a 16.2% increase in health benefits, Autocase predicts.
Oftentimes buildings blast either the air conditioning or heat, to the point that offices are either freezing or boiling. This could be wasting an awful lot of energy for people who don't want that much heat or AC.
Giving 100% of your employees control of the interior lighting around their workspaces could yield a 10.7% increase in productivity.
People prefer different levels of light, Stewart says, so companies might be wasting an awful lot of lighting for people who don't want it.
If you can manage to make 85% of views indoors and outdoors quality views, you could see a 3.9% increase in productivity, and a 20.2% increase in absenteeism benefits (fewer days off), the Autocase software found.
A 2015 study concluded that just looking at nature can improve focus and productivity. Green roofs work exceptionally well for this in cities, the Washington Post reported. Business Insider has also identified 11 health benefits of spending time in nature.
If companies can increase the sunlight in the office to reach 100% per cent of floor space, they can expect a 7.2% increase in productivity.
This isn't surprising, as a study the Interdepartmental Neuroscience program at Northwestern University found exposure to natural daylight improves workplace performance, Psychology Today reported.
Particularly in older buildings, if companies install new state-of-the-art air ducts in their offices, employees are likely to take fewer sick days and be more productive thanks to the better-quality air. It may be a higher upfront cost, but the money recouped in the productivity, and saved in the lack of sick days, could justify the upfront cost, Stewart told Business Insider.
A study by Harvard University and Syracuse University came to the same conclusion.
The specific percentages of productivity yielded by these changes may vary for different buildings. For example, one company could buy a building that already has a top-of-the-line air duct.
But the premise behind the recommendations is the same -- so companies might want to look into how their offices are affecting their worker productivity.
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