Imagine a workplace where the temperature is always perfect. Rather than harsh or noisy overhead lights, daylight pours in. There’s room to collaborate with others yet this never seems to get in they way of your personal space. Rooms are clean and well-lit, and you always feel safe, especially on your way out the door.
Pleasant as this workplace sounds, it’s far from reality for many building occupants. Held back by tight budgets and limited resources, facilities managers are often required to balance dream scenarios with practical needs when setting up and maintaining their buildings.
Yet it begs the question: How do facility management decisions affect the wellness, productivity and attitudes of building occupants?
By framing your projects and priorities as a facilities manager to emphasize the comfort and care of the individuals who spend time in your building, you can be sure you’re providing the highest level of service possible, regardless of the resources at your disposal. Because from the color of the walls to the schedule of outdoor safety lights, every choice has an impact on occupants.
Keep these best practices in mind as you plan your building’s maintenance schedule for the months ahead.
Creating a Comfortable, Productive Workspace
It goes without saying that occupants should feel comfortable when they arrive to work, shop or meet in your building each day. But how can you be sure you’re taking the right steps to make good on this expectation?
One of the best places to start is with your building’s lighting system. With the help of digital lighting controls, dynamic sensors and photocontrols, you can create an atmosphere that provides the perfect amount of lighting support while fostering productivity and maintaining efficiency.
As a rule of thumb, it’s smart to tailor lighting in each area of your building to accommodate its specific function for occupants. An auditorium or meeting room is a much different space than a parking garage or washroom, and your lighting decisions should reflect that. If you’ve taken a cookie-cutter approach in the past, it may be time to reevaluate your base setup.
While you’re at it, look for opportunities to harvest natural light wherever possible using dynamic indoor sensors. When correctly placed, sensors can automatically adjust the lighting in an area based on outdoor and ambient light. Beyond the clear wellness benefits of this approach, the use of natural light equates to an automatic cost-savings.
Keeping It Cool and Quiet
In addition to comfortable lighting, occupants should be able to count on a consistent temperature whenever they show up to work. Buildings that are too hot or too cold - or worse yet, fluctuate between extreme temperatures - can be a distraction and lead to a drop in performance.
A simple fix for this is to make sure HVAC systems are regularly maintained. By replacing heating coils and changing filters routinely, you can avoid much larger maintenance issues and ensure consistency.
However, not all heating problems are straightforward. If your HVAC system appears to be functioning properly but you’re still feeling irregularities in temperature - or hearing complaints from workers - you may want to check the heat being generated by lighting ballasts. It’s possible for air temperature to be read correctly at the HVAC unit’s sensor, but then warm as air passes across lighting ballasts en route to the blower, causing a discrepancy in the actual output temp. This is especially common in buildings with drop ceilings.
By the same token, having a large number of lighting ballasts spread throughout an office or facility can result in a consistent, audible hum. If this indoor noise pollution is noticeable enough to sidetrack a presentation or frustrate workers, it’s something you should look to resolve as a facilities manager.
You can mitigate this pesky issue by eliminating fixtures and increasing voltage controls from 120 volts to 240 volts. The shift allows for brighter bulbs that cover greater areas, thus reducing the need for redundant lights. However, when making a change like this, it’s smart to keep an eye out for brightness pockets and imbalanced lighting spread.
A Good Place to Meet
Lastly, when it comes to occupant comfort, building managers should think outside the box in regard to flow and space management. This is especially important as office floor plans further evolve to promote open work areas and shared spaces.
A fantastic way to promote collaboration is to simply turn up the lights. A bright area is a clear signal to occupants that it’s okay to congregate, communicate and be active in a given space. Conversely, you can deter traffic and noise by dimming lights in a specific area - a darker setting implies that the space should remain quiet and calm.
In practice, shared spaces like lobbies, lunch rooms and co-working areas should be intentionally lit to promote activity, while corridors, cubicle rows, phone rooms, supply cabinets and other low-key areas should be taken down a notch.
With the right mindset, there’s nothing stopping you from creating an inviting environment that all of your building’s users are sure to love. Reach out to your local Intermatic distributor or contact us today to get started upgrading your facility today!