4 Poor Working Conditions in Canada that Hurt Employee Productivity

by Adrian Miller on June 14, 2019

As facilities leaders, you have direct impact on the people employed at your workplace. Their productivity, satisfaction and happiness at work are all directly influenced by the space in which they work. While it’s impossible to create the ‘perfect’ workplace, you can make the most of the space you have. One of the most effective ways to do this is by reducing or eliminating poor working conditions. The following are some of the worst offenders for Canadian offices. Is your workplace guilty of any of the following? Don’t worry, we’ll explain how to correct any issues. 

1) Inadequate Lighting

While it may seem simple, it’s actually one of the most influential parts of a productive workplace, and it often goes overlooked. Your employees are spending 90% of their day indoors, and a dark and stuffy room isn’t exactly the thing great creative moments are made of. 

In a recent study of office workers it was found that a 9 percent performance improvement was achieved in rooms with higher illumination. 

Also, in a survey of employees done by Future Workplace, 70 percent of those surveyed said having access to natural light makes them more productive, yet only 30 percent said they had adequate access to natural light. 

The increase in our need for nature light may have stemmed from our recent uptick in reliance on mobile devices. In fact, the same study found that, “73 percent of employees agree that the longer they use their technology devices, the more they desire a visual break such as taking a walk or looking through unobstructed windows to an outside view.” Having exposure to natural light keeps us happier and is even proven to keep us healthier at work too. This is especially important in northern climates, like Canada, that need to utilize all the natural light they can during the shorter winter days. 

Simple solutions like trimming the trees more frequently that block windows or rearranging seating so more desks have window space are enough to make a positive impact. Area has a great blog with other suggestions as well.

2)  Ineffective Temperature Control

When you’re spending 80-90 percent of your days indoors, and that environment isn’t favorable, it can become an issue quickly. The back and forth of office temperature has been discussed for years, especially during more extreme weather months. In places that experience drastic peaks in temperature, like Canada, it’s even more important to address.

It’s even been proven in a study done by the Helsinki University of Technology that the wrong temperature can actually increase errors at work and decreases the rate at which work is done. What’s the best solution? The Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety recommends keeping your office in between these temperature ranges during different times of the year.

Summer conditions: optimum temperature of 24.5°C with an acceptable range of 23-26°C
Winter conditions: optimum temperature of 22°C with an acceptable range of 20-23.5°C

3) Cumbersome Workplace Technology

Having access to effective workplace technology is one of the three most important elements that make up a positive employee experience, according to author and workplace expert, Jacob Morgan.

Inefficient workplace technology also hurts productivity in a big way. Consider what happens when you’re using outdated software for hosting meetings, for instance. At least a few times a week, you have to restart a conference call, log back in and get everyone back on track. By eliminating this distraction and others, you give each employee an extra 18 minutes back each day. Multiple that by 500 employees earning an average salary of $85,000, and over the course of the year, this can add as much as $1.6 million back into your annual budget, according to an article Lister published in the January/February issue of Facility Management Journal.

4) A Lack of Workplace Flexibility and Balance

The way we work is changing, and companies that fail to keep up may find themselves unable to keep top talent and a dwindling moral. And it seems we’re not doing enough to prevent this from happening. A study from the Huffington Post reported that “only 56 percent of Canadians are happy with their current work schedules, ranking Canada 10th of 25 countries polled, behind countries like the United States, India and France.”

The survey also revealed that more than half of Canadian workers would like to work variable hours every workday, longer days and shorter weeks or variable workdays every week. And nearly two-thirds of would also prefer telecommuting at least part of the time.

Flexible workplaces can give employees an increased feeling of personal control over their schedule and work environment. With this often comes loyalty and appreciation for their work. Workplace leaders can help employees achieve a greater balance by offering flexible arrangements whenever possible. Allowing employees to work from home a few days per week or shift their hourly schedule makes all the difference to your most talented workers.

By showing your employees you trust and value them by giving them the freedom to choose their own schedule, the increased productivity and loyalty that stems from that will be well worth the effort.

How to Supercharge Employee Productivity 

If your organization is experiencing erosion of productivity and workforce engagement or a higher than normal churn rate, there’s a good chance at least one of these poor working conditions is standing in your way.

While compensation packages are important, the breakdown is likely stemming from something much deeper — more emotional than pecuniary.  Yet the impact on the enterprise is almost entirely financial. Not only does the loss of an employee equate to 30 to 50 percent of their annual salary, you stand to lose top talent to your competitors.

Talk with your leadership team and your employees to identify their biggest roadblocks to productivity. Once you have a better idea of the problem, you can begin to address it. Here are a few steps to improve poor working conditions and supercharge employee productivity:

  • Lead with data. Use space management software and IoT sensors to determine how employees are using the spaces available to them and how you can improve space utilization.
  • Be mindful of how you introduce new workplace technology. Look for solutions that integrate with your existing technology platforms, rather than adding to your tech stack. Get feedback from employees to make sure it’s actually going to make them more productive, rather than adding unnecessary steps.
  • Give employees flexibility in where, when and how they work whenever possible. Having a remote work policy in place can help.
  • Give employees the tools to find what they need to be productive. That includes the ability to find people, reserve space, request service and receive mail or visitors.

In this employee-centric market, your top talent won’t put up with poor working conditions for long. Create the environment they deserve, and you’ll reap the benefits for years to come.


Adrian Miller

Adrian brings 20 years of experience in enterprise software sales in the EAM, IWMS & BI spaces. The experience he has gained from previous roles encompasses all that the iOFFICE products have to offer Canadian business, but now in one cohesive solution. He is a strong believer that Canadians like to partner with Canadians and his main drivers are; client satisfaction, client advocacy and making sure his clients receive value from the solutions he represents. He has built a successful career based on this philosophy and looks forward to bringing his knowledge and the value of the iOFFICE suite to the Canadian marketplace.

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