Public Policy & News

Quality in Unexpected Places: The Weather!

doug-tree-bloom(Image Credit: Doug Buckley of http://hyperactive.to)

Many thanks to Sean Goggins, my favorite sociotechnical information scientist, for sharing this example of quality in an unexpected place on Facebook. As a meteorologist, I love how quality and productivity can be linked to one of my favorite sciences:

Central air hasn’t made us comfortable, so much as made us uncomfortable in a different way.

The experience isn’t simply unpleasant. It comes with a real financial cost.

To find out just how much, Cornell University researchers conducted a study that involved tinkering with the thermostat of an insurance office. When temperatures were low (68 degrees, to be precise), employees committed 44% more errors and were less than half as productive as when temperatures were warm (a cozy 77 degrees).

Cold employees weren’t just uncomfortable, they were distracted. The drop in performance was costing employers 10% more per hour, per employee. Which makes sense. When our body’s temperature drops, we expend energy keeping ourselves warm, making less energy available for concentration, inspiration, and insight.

— by Ron Friedman in “Want More Productive Workers? Adjust Your Thermostat,” 9/17/2012

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