'Green' workplace ideas ring true

Posted on Mar 3, 2010 :: Insight on Business, Web Exclusive.
Posted by of Insight Publications

Posted March 3


In the past few years, I have written dozens of articles involving some component of “green” construction. Last week, I came across (via Twitter) an interesting study that said people who work in green buildings are, on average, healthier and more productive than employees who don’t. That got me thinking back to my own personal work life.

Most offices I’ve worked in have been a cave – very little natural light (no glare on the computers!), poor air quality (newspapers tend to have poor ventilation systems) and uncomfortable temperatures (see previous note about the ventilation systems). In general, most people did not like being there and complained about the conditions.

When I struck out on my own as a freelancer, my first home “office” was in the basement. Just like the newspaper, there was no natural light (it was a basement) and the temperature wasn’t ideal (again, it was a basement). I didn’t like being down there so I decided to take a leap and turn a corner of our sun-filled living room into my work space. While it isn’t always ideal to have my piles of notes and laptop looking back at me while playing with the kids or trying to relax, I much prefer working to the light of the sun than fluorescents. It just feels better. And here at the Insight office, I get plenty of natural light from our windows overlooking College Avenue.

That’s the idea, according to Theresa Lehman, director of sustainability at Miron Construction. I recently interviewed her for an upcoming article and we got to talking about workspaces and employees’ response to them.

“Ninety percent of our lifetime is spent indoors so I think we need to make them as pleasant and healthy as possible,” Lehman says. “Employees who feel more comfortable in their work space tend to be more productive and it’s also easier for employers to attract and retain the best talent when you have a comfortable work environment.”

That’s something all employers should strive for.

–By MaryBeth Matzek