Office Environment: Meaning And Conditions Suitable For Office Environment

Table Of Contents

  • Definition Of Office Environment
  • Conditions Suitable For Office Environment

Definition Of Office Environment

Environment means surrounding, circumstance or influences. Office environment may be defined as the surrounding within which office work is performed and which affects the prestige of the enterprise, the health, the morale and efficiency of the workers. The main aspects of office environment are the office site, the premises itself, departmental planning, the layout, furniture, appropriate and safe working conditions and the atmosphere.

The importance of office environment is that the worker will generally put in his best under a conducive working environment. Again office work is mainly brain work. The brain and the human body are intimately connected. So, the efficiency of the worker will depend on his physical and mental fitness. A suitable environment stimulates and motivates the worker. An attractive and cheerful appearance of the office 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 better quality of work and influences the neatness and accuracy with which the workers attend to their assignment.

A clean office environment should be free from dirty, bad odour and infection. The layout of the furniture and equipment should be such that 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, it is important that the job of cleaning the office is closely supervised. A time-table should be arranged for cleaning areas that are not readily accessible, e.g. Ceiling, upper walls, top of cuboards and behind filling cabinets.

2. Prevention Of Over-Crowding

Office environment should be free from over crowding. The question is how do we prevent overcrowding? The problems of overcrowding should be forseen and taken care of at the start of the layout of the office. Each worker should have sufficient space in which to work effectively, comfortably and to ensure more efficient workflow.

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

The Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Act 1963 (A British Government Legislation) prescribed a minimum of 11.3 cubic meter 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 temperature of the office should be conducive for effective performance of duties. It should not be too warm or too cold. The institute of Heating and Ventilation Engineers recommend around 65¤F as appropriate temperature for an office. The Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Act 1963 laid down a minimum of 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 hort humid area e.g. Aba, and the staff members whether male or female. Whatever it is the case, a very moderate temperature should be maintained that is conducive for the workers. Excess heat and humidity cause drowsiness and discomfort. Excess cold, on the other hand, it uncomfortable and slows down work, for example, the operation of typewriter keyboard by typists or operating computer keyboard, which require finger dexterity, will be hampered by very cold temperature.

The right temperature in the office can be maintained by the use of air-conditioners, fans, 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 rhe office to become stale. Stale air causes draught, fatigue, headache, stuffiness, loss of concentration and affects the efficiency of workers.

It is important that there should be a constant flow of clean fresh air through the office because air composition in the office is constantly being polluted as a result of oxygen loss, body odour, temperature changes and the addition of carbon dioxide.

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

5. Lighting

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

Lighting requirements in the office depend on the office size, ceiling height, the number of people within the office, the nature of work being performed therein 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 degree of intensity for the type of work to be performed. It should neither be too strong nor too dim.

3. It should not produce any glare or dazzle as a result of 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 with regard to dirt and infection. Therefore, sanitary conveniences are those suitable materials provided with a view to improving 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 condition create unpleasant and depressing environment for office workers and cause health-hazards. Therefore, the provision of sanitary conveniences is very important because the workers spends the greater part of his day in the office. Poor sanitation ultimately affects the morale and efficiency, whereas good sanitary conveniences promote health and boost morale of the workers.

7. Noise Reduction

The effect of noise in the officeis distressing. It causes distraction and loss of concentration to the worker. It affects the workers performance through difficulty in hearing clearly. It leads to increased mistakes, and fatigue. It causes annoyance and may lower the workers morale. Therefore, every effort should be made by the office manager to eliminate or reduce noise in the office.

The better approach to noise reduction is to locate the sources and stop it at the source, if possible. Noise in the office my arise from internal or external sources.

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

The solutions inclue siting the office buiding away and well back from any busy road and providing sound-deadening barriers such as row of trees within the premises. The use of air conditioners and double-glazed windows help to insulate external noises. Providing heavy curtains at the windows and locating office rooms at the top or near of the buiding away from sound, help to 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, Coversation and movement of people.

Noise from this source can be reduced by the use of plastic floor covering and carpets which 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 receive and discuss with their visitors or for interviews.

8. Safety And Fire Precaution

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 through identification of potential causes by accidents in the office environment, through safety education as well as inspection and provision of mechanical safeguard.

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 work flow 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 risk of fire should be minimized by the provision of 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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