Office temperature is linked to keyboarding performance

If your office is too cold, chances are that you might not be typing as accurately or as much as you could be.

In a recent study evaluating the impact of indoor environmental conditions on worker productivity, Cornell University ergonomics professor Dr. Alan Hedge found a 74 per cent increase in typing mistakes and a 46 per cent reduction in typing output when office temperatures fell from 25 degrees Celsius to 20 degrees Celsius.

“The purpose of the study was to investigate the link between changes in physical environmental conditions and changes in work performance,” Hedge explained in a statement. “Temperature is certainly a key variable that can impact performance.”

During the study, Hedge placed HOBO data loggers — or miniature temperature recorders — at nine individual workstations at the Insurance Office of America’s corporate headquarters in Orlando, Fla. The loggers, which are commonly used to validate comfort complaints in the workplace, sampled air temperature every 15 minutes for an entire working month. This data was then correlated with a month’s worth of ergonomic data to show how typing performance worsened as temperatures fell.

“As employees typed, we knew the amount of time they were keying, and the amount of time they were making error corrections,” said Hedge. “At [25 degrees Celsius], employees were keying 100 per cent of the time with a 10 per cent error rate, while at [20 degrees Celsius], keying rate went down to 54 per cent of the time with a 25 per cent error rate.”

Hedge estimated that the decreased productivity resulted in a 10 per cent increase in labour costs per worker, per hour.

He added, “This study shows that when employees get chilly, at least in this case, they are not working to their full potential. We will continue to study the impact of the environment on worker productivity with the ultimate goal of having much smarter buildings and better environmental control systems in the workplace.”

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