BOURNE, Mass. - 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 landmark study evaluating the impact of indoor environmental conditions on worker productivity, Cornell University ergonomics professor Dr. Alan Hedge found a 74-percent increase in typing mistakes and a 46-percent reduction in typing output when office temperatures fell from 77 degrees F to 68 degrees.

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

During the study, Hedge placed HOBO® data loggers 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," says Hedge.

"At 77 degrees, employees were keying 100 percent of the time with a 10-percent error rate, while at 68 degrees, keying rate went down to 54 percent of the time with a 25-percent error rate."

Hedge estimates that the decreased productivity resulted in a 10-percent increase in labor costs per worker, per hour.

Publication date: 11/08/2004