Office Building Conditions Affect Productivity, Survey Finds

Blumberg Capital Partners, the U.S. investment firm and commercial real estate investment manager, released results of a national survey to gauge the impact of office building conditions on worker attitudes, productivity and motivation. The poll was conducted in December. Some of the top-line results:

  • One in three workers surveyed said they have either accepted or left a job due to "the condition of the building and/or the amenities offered."
  • Nearly half said their office buildings and office environments are either "bland" (36%), "dumpy" (7%) or "stodgy" (4%).
  • The most-frequent complaint (47%): extreme office temperatures due to poor heating, air-conditioning and ventilation systems.
  • About a quarter of the respondents said the cleanliness of their buildings is either "marginal" or "appalling."
  • One in three workers said they're concerned about getting sick or injured from unhealthy or unsafe building conditions.
  • Fully 80% of workers said the overall condition of their office buildings affects how they perceive their employers.
  • The vast majority (69%) confirmed that the condition of their office buildings affects their own individual productivity and motivation.

"We're entering a new era in commercial real estate, where premium services and amenities and employee-friendly facilities will differentiate office buildings and employers," said Philip Blumberg, chairman and CEO of Blumberg Capital Partners. "The survey results illustrate just how much of an impact office environments and ergonomics have on attitudes and overall employee productivity. The results also offer a unique glimpse into the current state of U.S. office buildings and the mindset of today's office worker."

Given the increasing value placed on office amenities, Blumberg Office Properties, the real estate investment arm of Blumberg Capital Partners, recently hired a luxury hotel executive to spearhead the rollout of five-star, premium services to its properties. The program encompasses on-site concierge support, event tickets, health clubs, conference facilities, advanced technology and energy-efficient utilities.

According to the survey, the most-frequent complaint aired by workers (47% of respondents) was extreme office temperatures due to poor heating, air-conditioning and ventilation systems. In addition, unclean/under-stocked restrooms (31%), outdated furniture and decor (28%), unexplained odors or foul/unclean air (21%), rodents/insects (20%), theft/crime (21%), and leaky ceilings and windows (21%) were common complaints.

The survey also examined office security issues. While 89% of respondents believe their office buildings are safe in terms of their personal security, some 34% of respondents raised concerns about the safety of their personal belongings. In terms of security measures in demand by workers, 78% cited security cameras. More than half cited "security guards on patrol" as another effective tactic, while 28% want "metal detectors or other weapons-check measures."

When asked which of these measures were already in place at their respective buildings, 54% cited security cameras, while 37% and 8% cited security guards on patrol and metal detectors/weapons checks, respectively, indicating a gap in actual and desired security measures.

When asked to rank office building amenities, workers cited "covered parking" as the most important feature, followed closely by "subsidized cafeteria or restaurant," "fitness or workout center" and "on-site day care."

The survey also examined the prevalence of office recycling and environmental programs. The most frequently cited program was "office paper/newspaper recycling," cited by 63% of the respondents. More than half also said their buildings offer can or bottle recycling. About a quarter of the respondents said their buildings or employers offer no recycling or environmental programs.

The survey was commissioned by Blumberg Capital Partners and conducted by Fleishman-Hillard Research to gauge office workers' attitudes and opinions about various aspects of their office buildings. The findings are based on a national online survey of 500 adults who spend the majority of their workday in one office building. The poll was conducted from Dec. 14-17, 2007, using a nationwide Internet panel. The sample comprised 209 males and 291 females. Demographics were also collected for income level, job type, age, region, education level and building type.

For complete survey results, visit http://www.blumbergcapitalpartners.com.

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