BOURNE, MA, October 14, 2004 —If your office is too cold, chances are that you might not be typing as accurately, or as much, as you could be.
Landmark study shows typing errors increase, output decreases as office temperatures drop.
In a landmark study evaluating the impact of indoor environmental conditions on worker productivity, Cornell University ergonomics professor Dr. Alan Hedge found a 74% increase in typing mistakes and a 46% reduction in typing output when office temperatures fell from 77°F to 68°F. The findings were presented in June at the 2004 Eastern Ergonomics Conference in New York City.
"The purpose of the study was to investigate the link between changes in physical environmental conditions and changes in work performance, Hedge explains. "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, Florida. 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," says Hedge. "At 77°F, employees were keying 100% of the time with a 10% error rate, while at 68°, keying rate went down to 54% of the time with a 25% error rate."
Hedge estimates that the decreased productivity resulted in a 10% increase in labor costs per worker, per hour.
He adds, "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 bulidings and better environmental control systems in the workplace."
A detailed presentation about this study can be found on the Cornell University website.
About Dr. Alan Hedge:
Dr. Alan Hedge is a Professor in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis, Cornell University, where since 1987 he has directed the Human Factors and Ergonomics teaching and research programs. Prior to that, for over 10 years he ran the Graduate Program in Applied Psychology and Ergonomics at Aston University, Birmingham, U.K. From 1990-1993 he was also an Honorary Research Fellow at the Institute of Occupational Health, University of Birmingham, U.K.
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Onset Computer Corporation has been producing small, inexpensive, battery-powered data loggers since 1981, and has sold over 600,000 units used throughout the world by more than 26,000 customers. Onset offers more than 60 models of data loggers to measure temperature, humidity, light, AC current, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, 4-20 mA, voltage, on/off, open/closed, and events. Onset data loggers are used in a wide range of energy, facilities management, HVAC, transportation, and industrial applications.