Office environment has an important bearing on the efficiency of employees.
It is common experience that people work better if they are given the surroundings and equipment appropriate to their work. According to Terry, “an individual’s performance is significantly familiarized by the environment in which he works”.
Lighting is the most important of all the physical conditions in the
office. Proper lighting is important because it offers the following advantages:
· Increased productivity
· Better quality of work
· It results in fewer errors
· Reduction in eye strain and mental fatigue
· Better employee morale
Basic factors in good lighting are:
i. Quantity of Light: It is necessary that the correct quantity of light is available for different types of work in the office.
ii. Brightness of Light: The light should provide the right degree of intensity and brightness. It can be described as the amount of light reflected from an object. It also controls contrast which affects seeing.
iii. Diffusion of Light: Proper diffusion of light can be obtained by having light in different amount that come from an adequate number of sources and directions and should not throw any shadow. It should also be spread uniformly over all parts of the working place.
There are two main kinds of light available:
1. Natural Lighting: The sun is the source of natural lighting which is considered as the best form of lighting from the point of view of the health and efficiency of the employees. Day light is admitted through large windows in the walls or from the roof.
2. Artificial Lighting: Artificial lighting may be used to supplement natural light. It is generally not possible to provide natural light over the whole working surface; artificial lighting has to be provided so that the working surface may be properly and evenly illuminated. Artificial lighting is of two kinds
a. Fluorescent: The illumination produced by fluorescent lighting closely resembles that of natural lighting. The light is evenly distributed and produces less heat and fewer glares and lasts longer even though it is very expensive.
b. Incandescent: It is most commonly used, less expensive lighting produced by filament bulbs. It consumes more electricity and produces more glare and shadows. Incandescent lighting may also be used to provide heat for the office building.
c. LED: The light-emitting diode (LED) is one of today’s most energy-efficient and rapidly developing lighting technologies. Quality LED light bulbs last longer, and are more durable. They also offer comparable or better light quality than other types of lighting.
d. Solar Lamp: A solar lamp also known as solar light or solar lantern, is a lighting system composed of an LED lamp, solar panels, battery, charge controller and there may also be an inverter. The lamp operates on electricity from batteries, charged through the use of solar photovoltaic panel.
The lighting system consists of the following five types
Approximately 90% to 100% of the light is directed downward to the working surface in this type of lighting. This system uses some shade or reflector for the source of light. It provides a good intensity of light. At the same time, it casts dark shadows around and raises direct and reflected glare that could cause eyestrain to the office employees.
In this system, 90% to 100% of the light is directed towards the ceiling or walls and then the directed light is diffused and reflected on the work surface. This type of lighting system is soft and avoids shadows and glares and does not cause eyestrain. This type of lighting system is highly useful for general illumination but not for office work.
In this type of lighting, a transparent or translucent shade is used which directs 60% to 80% of the light downward. The remaining light is directed upward and the directed light is reflected from the ceiling. This lighting system is an improvement of direct lighting. So, dark shadows on the ceiling and glare are eliminated in this system.
A transparent or translucent shade, bowl, cover or reflector is placed under the lamp in this lighting system. In this way, 20% to 40% of the light may be directly diffused downward on the working surface. The remaining 60% to 80% of the light may be directly towards the ceiling and walls. Such directed lighting is reflected downward to the working surface. This form of lighting is intermediate between direct lighting and indirect lighting.
An equal amount of light is diffused directly and indirectly by its reflection from ceiling and walls in this type of lighting system. This system gives more light with the same wattage than the semi-indirect lighting system does.
Ventilation in the office refers to the supply of clean and fresh air in the right amount, at the right temperature and of the right humidity. Proper ventilation is an important aspect of office environment. Fresh air must pass through the office regularly. Arrangements of rooms and partitions should be such as to allow free circulation of fresh and dustless air. The following methods are generally used to maintain proper ventilation:
(i)Natural Ventilation: Natural ventilation may be obtained by providing enough doors, windows and ventilators of the right type at the right place. Natural ventilation can be increased by providing roof ventilation and internal tube ventilators. They would ensure a regular flow of fresh air from outside and of decayed air from inside.
(ii) Artificial Ventilation: Artificial ventilation may be achieved by the use of electric fans, exhaust fans, air coolers, air filters, air conditioners etc in the toilets, basements, crowded rooms, canteens, machine rooms etc so that the warm air is let out and fresh air enters through windows and doors.
Temperature and Humidity: Temperature and humidity are two vital factors in the office that exercise a great influence over the worker and his output. Temperature and humidity in the rooms should be maintained at a proper level because too much heat or cold induces physical discomfort and affects the efficiency of the staff. The ideal office temperature is approximately 68 degree fahrenheit and humidity is between 40 to 60 percent.
Leaving a fan running overnight over the summer wastes enough energy to power the laptop for a year and iPhone for 25 years.
A two degree increase in office temperature creates enough carbon di oxide in a year to fill a hot air balloon.
A noisy place is never an efficient office. Noise is one of the great disturbers.
A noiseless and quiet atmosphere is a must for an office to maintain the efficiency of the employees at high level. Noise may be internal and external. Noise can be controlled through following measures:
i. Separating noise making machines from the main office.
ii. Fitting doors with door closers and rubber lining.
iii. Housing the telephone switchboard away from the general office.
iv. Using sound absorbing material on floors, walls and ceilings.
v. Covering floors with rubber, coir or plastic mats, etc.
A clean and tidy office is important as it offers the following advantages:
· It is healthier as a work place for different types of office workers.
· Since people react to their surroundings, a clean and healthy office contributes to accuracy and efficiency
· A clean and tidy office also projects a good image of the organization in the eyes of the people who visit it.
Disposal of Waste: Proper disposal of waste and waste paper is very essential.
Toilets: Proper provision of toilets and their proper cleanliness are important. Toilets should be conveniently located with adequate number. It must be properly stocked with soap, toilet paper and towels. Paper napkins or towels are convenient and hygienic.
The cleaning work should be undertaken either before or after the business hours in the office. In addition to the daily cleaning, a definite programme of special cleaning should be laid down and followed. This sort of special cleaning should be a comprehensive one and no part of the office should be left uncleaned.
One of the vital functions of a modern office is to keep and preserve documents and records for future guidance or reference. All documents or records of office should therefore be kept under proper security. The following precautions should be taken to secure documents and employees:
(i) Fire Precautions: Adequate fire precautions should be taken for the preservation of office records and documents, machines against risk of loss or destruction by fire. Similarly precautionary measures to safeguard the employees in the office should also be provided in the office. Adequate fire extinguishing equipment should be installed and the staff should be trained in its use. Fire alarms should be fixed in conspicuous places. Such appliances should be regularly inspected to ensure that they are in working order.
(ii) Accident Prevention: Most accidents occur due to overcrowding in the office; use of obsolete machines and equipment, improper and careless handling of machine etc. Hence adequate precautionary steps to prevent accidents should be taken in the office. The employees should also be made aware of the safety arrangements and should be advised to handle the office machinery and equipment carefully. Office machines and equipments should be placed on firm foundation and proper fitting of desk and file drawers should be ensured.
(iii)Provision of Safe Working Place: Arrangements should be made to provide a safe working place for the employees. Shape and size of the office rooms, location and size of doors, gangways, etc., must be such as to eliminate hazards of accident. Office floor should be covered with nonslippery material, lighting of stairways, gangways, etc should be adequate and desks and chairs should be free of sharp edges.
(iv) Provision of First Aid Service: To ensure immediate treatment to injuries, there should be a first aid box in every office with sufficient medicines. These should be regularly inspected to ensure that they are stocked with all necessary materials.
(v) Safety Education and Training of Employees: Each employee should be made thoroughly aware of the dangers of his job. Training should be given to employees in the correct and safe way of doing the job and trained in first aid and fire fighting work. Safety regulations should be carefully framed and strictly enforced.