Satisfied employees are more motivated and more productive in their work. The indoor climate at the workplace is an important area of action for companies looking to have a positive impact on employees. Relative humidity is therefore not only an influencing factor for perceived “thermal comfort”, it also drives productivity. “Thermal comfort” is the term used when building users do not want the indoor to be either warmer or colder, drier or more humid. The comfort zone, in which the vast majority of room users feel comfortable, ranges from about 18 °C to 24 °C and from 35% to 75% relative humidity. One in four office workers feels frequently or continuously uncomfortable as a result of dry air.
Dry air is a source of irritation
A study by Fraunhofer IAO on the design of the working and office environment conducted as part of the Office 21 joint project shows that only 20 percent of office users are very satisfied with their office environment, while a further 42 percent are more or less satisfied. As a source of irritation with an above-average impact, insufficient humidity is one of the factors that has a clearly negative influence on satisfaction in the office. More than a quarter of office workers often or very often find the air to be too dry. The researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute calculated a correlation of -0.30, with which insufficient humidity clearly has a negative effect on satisfaction in the office. This means that employers and building managers have a great deal of control over the potential for optimisation in the design of working and office environments. The extent of the positive leverage effect on performance that can be expected is shown by the influence of satisfaction on the motivation and performance of office workers calculated in the Office 21 study. With a correlation factor of +0.44 or +0.38, there is a strong positive influence that, in addition to performance, also has an impact on identification with and loyalty to the employer.
Performance, speed, accuracy
Further details on the potential impact of the indoor climate on productivity can be found in the British “Whole Life Performance Plus” study: the study confirms that an optimum indoor climate can enhance the performance, speed and accuracy of staff. In addition, companies that invest in the indoor climate in production and work spaces can expect a range of positive effects among their employees: lower rates of absence, higher product quality, enhanced performance in the workplace, greater employee loyalty and creativity. The study focused in particular on the influence of temperature, carbon dioxide (CO2) and relative humidity in the workplace.
Case studies: Humidification and performance
Fraunhofer Study on air humidity
Fraunhofer Study in a practical information package, including a free Thermo-hygrometer.