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The effect of physical environment comfort on employees’ performance in office buildings: A case study of three public universities in Malaysia

Azlan Shah Ali (Building Surveying Department, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
Shirley Jin Lin Chua (Department of Building Surveying, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
Melissa Ee-Ling Lim (Department of Building Surveying, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

Structural Survey

ISSN: 0263-080X

Article publication date: 9 November 2015

Abstract

Purpose

Maintaining a comfortable physical environment in the workplace is claimed to be vital as it will create a “healthier” building with optimum environmental conditions, which enable employees to be healthier and have a lower absenteeism rate, and hence be more productive. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to deal with the importance of physical environment comfort in the office workplace. Evaluation was made of the office workers’ performance that is mainly affected by levels of comfort in the office.

Design/methodology/approach

Three selected case studies were evaluated based on aspects of employees’ comfort, perceived health and absenteeism rate, by considering the elements of physical comfort that consist of room temperature, relative humidity and luminance level. The selected case studies were the Department of Development and Estate Maintenance of three research universities in Malaysia. Field studies were carried out using hygrometers and lux meters in measuring the said elements as well as post-occupancy evaluation, which involved 30 respondents for each case (total 90 respondents), to determine their perception of comfort and its effect on their health and absenteeism rate. Data collected were analysed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences.

Findings

The results suggest that employees did not find luminance level uncomfortable, when compared with room temperature, thus proving that employees are more sensitive to room temperature comfort. Furthermore, when the room temperature comfort was low, significant correlations were found with health-related issues such as feeling “stuffy”, being easily tired and having difficulty concentrating.

Originality/value

This paper investigates the relationship between employee performance and a comfortable workplace environment. It could be concluded that an uncomfortable environment in an office workplace leads to health-related issues as well as increasing the absenteeism rate. High levels of employee absenteeism lead to decreased employee productivity, therefore affecting their work performance.

Keywords

Citation

Ali, A.S., Chua, S.J.L. and Lim, M.E.-L. (2015), "The effect of physical environment comfort on employees’ performance in office buildings: A case study of three public universities in Malaysia", Structural Survey, Vol. 33 No. 4/5, pp. 294-308. https://doi.org/10.1108/SS-02-2015-0012

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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