Office Environment: Meaning And Conditions Suitable For Office Environment

Office Environment

Table Of Contents

  • Definition Of Office Environment
  • Conditions Suitable For Office Environment

Definition Of Office Environment

Environment means surroundings, circumstances, or influences. Office environment may be defined as the surroundings within which office work is performed and which affects the prestige of the enterprise and the health, morale, and efficiency.

The main aspects of the office environment are the official site, the premises itself, departmental planning, the layout, furniture, appropriate and safe working conditions, and the atmosphere.

The importance of the office environment is that the worker will generally put in his best in a conducive working environment. Again office work is mainly brain work. The brain and the human body are intimately connected.

So, the worker’s efficiency will depend on his physical and mental fitness. A suitable environment stimulates and motivates the worker. The office’s attractive and cheerful appearance inspires a feeling of confidence in the enterprise and enhances its prestige.

Conditions Suitable For Office Environment

A suitable office environment must ensure adequate standards in respect of the following conditions:

1. Cleanliness
2. Prevention Of Over Crowding
3. Temperature
4. Ventilation
5. Lighting
6. Sanitary Conveniences
7. First Aid
8. Drinking Water
9. Eating Facilities

1. Cleanliness

Cleanliness is said to be next to godliness. The cleanliness of the office is important because it affects the health and well-being of the workers. A clean environment promotes a better quality of work and influences the neatness and accuracy with which the workers attend to their assignments.

A clean office environment should be free from dirty, bad odors and infection. The furniture and equipment layout should be such that it will encourage easy cleaning of the surroundings.
Office cleaning can be undertaken by cleaners directly employed as staff in the organization.

For effective performance, a schedule of duties should be prepared for such staff. Alternatively, cleaning contractors may be employed to clean the offices.

In all, the job of cleaning the office must be closely supervised. A timetable should be arranged for cleaning areas that are not readily accessible, e.g., Ceiling, upper walls, top of cupboards, and behind filling cabinets.

2. Prevention Of Over-Crowding

The office environment should be free from overcrowding. The question is, how do we prevent overcrowding? The overcrowding problems should be foreseen and taken care of at the start of the office layout.

Each worker should have sufficient space to work effectively and comfortably and ensure a more efficient workflow.

Overcrowding can hamper efficiency. Hence it is considered a great mistake to pack office workers too close together because the noise, gossip, and movement will interfere with work which can cause mental strain and health hazards. These interferences lower the efficiency of office work.

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The Offices, Shops, and Railway Premises Act 1963 (A British Government Legislation) prescribed a minimum of 11.3 cubic meters of space per worker as a legal standard. This minimum can be exceeded depending on the nature of office activities performed by the staff and the type of office layout adopted.

3. Temperature

This is the degree or intensity of sensible heat of the atmosphere in the office. The office’s temperature should be conducive to the effective performance of duties. It should not be too warm or too cold.

The Institute of Heating and Ventilation Engineers recommends around 65¤F as an appropriate temperature for an office. The Offices, Shops, and Railway Premises Act 1963 laid down a minimum temperature of 60.8degreeF for the office.

The appropriate temperature for an office is essentially subjective: it depends, among other factors, on the locations, whether in a cold region, e.g., Jos, or a hot, humid area, e.g., Aba, and the staff members, whether male or female.

Whatever the case, a very moderate temperature that is conducive for the workers should be maintained.

Excess heat and humidity cause drowsiness and discomfort. Excess cold, on the other hand, is uncomfortable and slows down work; for example, the operation of typewriter keyboards by typists or operating computer keyboards, which require finger dexterity, will be hampered by very cold temperatures.

The right temperature in the office can be maintained by using air-conditioners, fans, and electric room heaters, and reducing cold air from outside entering the office.

4. Ventilation

This is the act of causing pure air to circulate freely in the office rooms. Sufficient fresh air in the office environment is important. Improper ventilation causes the air in the office to become stale.

Stale air causes draught, fatigue, headache, stuffiness, and loss of concentration and affects the efficiency of workers.

There must be a constant flow of clean, fresh air through the office because air composition is constantly being polluted due to oxygen loss, body odor, temperature changes, and the addition of carbon dioxide.

Proper ventilation can be ensured by positioning doors and windows well so that there is always an undisturbed flow of air, the doors and windows kept open when air conditioners are not installed; installation of electric fans, air conditioners, the blower to diffuse air evenly throughout the office room.

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5. Lighting

Lighting in the office should be of the right quality, quantity, and position. Lighting is important because office work involves writing, reading, and close-figure work. Poor lighting or too strong light causes eye strain and fatigue and could lead to inferior quality of work output.

Lighting requirements depend on the office size, ceiling height, the number of people within the office, the nature of work being performed, and the location of machines and furniture. So no standard on lighting can be laid.

However, the following qualities of good lighting should be observed:

1. The light should be non-glare and properly diffused to avoid casting shadows on workers.

2. The lighting should have the right intensity for the type of work. It should neither be too strong nor too dim.

3. It should not produce any glare or dazzle from reflection on polished surfaces on the desks or any other office equipment.

4. The light source should be above the visual field.

5. The light should be as bright as day.

6. Sanitary Conveniences

Sanitary refers to the conditions that affect health, especially dirt and infection. Therefore, sanitary conveniences are those suitable materials provided to improve the sanitary conditions of office workers.

Sanitary conveniences include toilets, cloakrooms, drinking water, urinaries refuse disposal, washing basins, provision of spray with deodorizing and disinfecting liquids, etc.

Sufficient and adequate sanitary conveniences should be provided for office workers. Toilets should be adequate and conveniently located for the users. They should be maintained and kept clean. Separate toilets should be provided for both sexes.

Dirty or unsanitary conditions create an unpleasant and depressing environment for office workers and cause health hazards. Therefore, providing sanitary conveniences is very important because the workers spend the greater part of their day in the office.

Poor sanitation ultimately affects morale and efficiency, whereas good sanitary conveniences promote health and boost workers’ morale.

7. Noise Reduction

The effect of noise in the office is distressing. It causes distraction and loss of concentration to the worker. It affects the worker’s performance through difficulty in hearing clearly. It leads to increased mistakes and fatigue. It annoys and may lower the worker’s morale.

Therefore, every effort should be made by the office manager to eliminate or reduce noise.

The better noise reduction approach is locating the sources and stopping them at the source, if possible. Noise in the office may arise from internal or external sources.

Noise from the external source includes traffic noises, aircraft noises, and nosy neighborhoods, e.g., Office buildings within a factory site. In these circumstances, a great deal of noise enters through the windows.

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The solutions include siting the office building away and well back from any busy road and providing sound-deadening barriers such as a row of trees within the premises.

The use of air conditioners and double-glazed windows helps to insulate external noises. Providing heavy curtains at the windows and locating office rooms at the top or near the building away from the sound help reduce noise in the office.

Within the office, internal sources of noise are; Telephone bell and the user’s conversations, Noisy office machines, Noisy Doors, and Windows, and the Conversation and movement of people.

Noise from this source can be reduced by using plastic floor covering and carpets that deaden sound. In the case of conversation in the office, the solution is good supervision.

Also, a separate room may be provided to enable staff to receive and discuss with their visitors or for interviews.

8. Safety And Fire Precautions

All office workers should be safety conscious. Accidents pose great danger to the staff and are costly to the enterprise because of their disruptive effects. Causes of accidents in the office include carelessness, faulty machines, electrical faults, falling objects, etc.

Accident prevention can be enhanced by identifying potential causes of accidents in the office environment, safety education, and inspection and provision of mechanical safeguards.

Bett (76:249) suggested the following safety checklist for accident precaution:

1. Keep all gangways clear

2. Keep all corridors clear

3. Maintain floors and stairs regularly.

4. Avoid leaving parcels or any items lying around in the office.

5. Erect warning notices of any temporary or permanent hazard.

6. Encourage tidiness.

7. Study workflow between employees and rearrange to avoid possible collisions.

8. Clear-glass doors should be fitted with prominent warning signs.

9. Avoid placing articles in precariously high positions.

10. Check machines and equipment regularly.

11. Remind supervisors periodically of the importance of accident prevention.

12. Ensure that the first aid kit is accessible and well stocked; regularly check that all aids that promote safety are available.

The fire risk should be minimized by providing ashtrays for smokers. They should be persuaded to make use of them.

No person should be allowed to smoke within the office environment. Fire extinguishers should be provided, and staff should be trained on their use.

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