What is Office Environment?
Office environment refers to general physical conditions in an office and includes items like interior decoration, furniture and fixtures, lighting and ventilation, sanitation and cleanliness, and safety and security.
The main purpose of an office environment is to support its employees in performing their job at minimum cost and to maximum satisfaction. In an office there are different types of people who perform different tasks and activities; however, it is not always easy to select the
Table of Content
- 1 What is Office Environment?
- 2 Components of Office Environment
- 3 Office Interior Decoration
- 4 Furniture and Fixtures
- 5 Office Lighting
- 6 Office Ventilation
- 7 Office Noise
- 8 Cleanliness, Sanitation and Health
- 9 Safety
- 10 Security
Right office spaces and environment. Office environment consists of the entire working environment of the office.Office environment includes various aspects like, working place, working condition, working hours, working equipment, training facilities, incentive payment system etc.
Office environment affects the efficiency of the office personnel. An employee working in the office cannot work efficiently unless provided the right type of working environment.
Components of Office Environment
The term ‘office environment’ refers to the general physical conditions under which office activities are performed. The major components of office environment include:
- Interior Decoration
- Furniture and Fixtures
- Office Lighting
- Office Ventilation
- Office Noise
- Cleanliness, Sanitation and Health
Office Interior Decoration
Interior decoration includes pleasant coloring of walls, doors and windows; placing 4 of attractive calendars, pictures, paintings, and charts on the walls; choosing the~ right type of floor coverings, and the use of suitable furnishings. It is, in short, – a way of decorating the interior of a room or building.
Human beings are attracted by colour, because there is a physical quality in colour that stimulates emotions. Some colours, when used in suitable combinations, produce a cheerful effect on human mind. Certain other colour combinations may produce the opposite effect. For example, blue,’ green
Interior decoration will be incomplete without adequate floor coverings. A proper floor covering not only reduces noise but also adds to the beauty of the office. The floor coverings may include carpets, linoleum, wood blocks, rubber or foam mattresses.
Furnishings include curtains for doors and windows and coverings for chairs, tables, sofa sets, and wall hangings. They ,give a distinct look to the office and serve as status symbol for office employees. They not only decorate the office but also prevent glass and excessive illumination from natural or artificial lighting.
The choice of furnishings for an office depends on factors which govern the choice of floor coverings, as explained above, such as the availability of finances, climatic requirements (e.g. thick cloth or woolen curtains used during winter), ease of cleaning and maintenance cost etc.
Furniture and Fixtures
Office work is performed by the clerical staff who have to spend long hours III the office every day. Suitable furniture should, therefore, be provided to enable them to perform their tasks comfortably, speedily and efficiently.
The term ‘furniture and fixtures’ in an office includes desks, tables, chairs, cabinets, trays, almirahs, cupboards, and other necessary fittings and fixtures like desk lamps, wastepaper baskets, telephone stands, racks for files, etc.
Types of Furniture
The usual office furniture found in any modern office are desks, tables and chairs. Storage and filing equipment, such as filing racks and cabinets, lockers and almirahs are also referred to as office furniture.
Office furniture may be broadly divided into three types:
Executive furniture is made in accordance with the taste of the executive concerned and is made mostly for appearance. The main purpose is to impress visitors with the prestige and importance of the person using it. Executive furniture is generally of superior quality and is used in . more important private offices in the organisation. There is no standard size of the executive desk or table, because’ this depends on the status of the executive and the size of the room.
Special Purpose Furniture
Special purpose furniture is designed for special use in offices and includes the following:
- Clerical desk: This is meant for clerical operations (writing, recording, etc.). Usually this kind of desk is a singly pedestal one containing some drawers to keep files, papers, etc.
- Typist’s desk: This is special kind of desk designed to meet the requirements of a typist. It has a suitable surface for keeping’ the typewriter and similar machines (calculator, etc.). The desk usually contains two or three drawers or trays for placing papers, keeping pencils, rubbers, carbon papers, records, typed documents, etc.
- Machine desk: This is specially designed to place adding, accounting, billing,’ calculating, card-punching and copying machines of various types. Usually, a well is dug at either end of the desk so that the machine sits lower than the standard desk height.
Floor space can be saved by the use of built-in or collapsible furniture. For example, almirahs built in wall recesses with laminated plastic wood veneers can stand rough handling and are not subject to scratches. They also prevent dust accumulation- on the files.
In addition to a suitable desk and a comfortable chair, office employees also require certain other fixtures for performing their operations efficiently. These fixtures include desk lamps, waste paper baskets, telephone stands, and miscellaneous items, such as pencil stand, pin cushion, stamp, pad with ink, dust bin, etc.
Lighting is perhaps the most important of office environment. Virtually every task performed in the office requires proper light. There can be no proper work done without adequate light. Poor lighting, or strong lights with attendant glare, cause eye strain, mental fatigue and irritation. This, in turn, results in delays, interruption and mistakes in office work.
Therefore, to provide for adequate lighting is essential for employees to perform their tasks satisfactorily. The following two factors are considered important with respect to lighting arrangement.
- Quantity of light: The common measurement of light is a foot-candle which is the amount of illumination one foot away from the standard candle. Normally, typing work requires need 150 foot candles whereas other clerical activities need 70 to 100 foot candles of light. Office work is mostly paperwork, so sufficient light should be provided as per standard requirements.
- Quality of light: The quality of light is considered proper if it is free from glare and is diffused evenly over the illuminated area. Brightness should be fairly uniform rather than varying from one portion of the office to another. Shadows should be minimized by having lights falling from different sources in a room.
There are two sources of light in the modern office:
Natural light or day light is the best form of light. This is both economical and good for the health of employees. It causes less eye-strain and keeps the employees psychologically happy. As far a§possible, maximum use should be made of natural light for the office.
This can be achieved by:
- having large windows;
- using external reflectors;
- applying better colors for walls, tables etc.
- rearranging furniture (e.g., desks should be kept near windows, persons doing figure work, and other eye-straining work should be placed near windows); and
- using diffusing glass panes so as to redirect light in rooms where it is most wanted light is too bright dark window curtains may be used).
Though natural light has its own merits, modem offices cannot entirely depend on it as the intensity of light changes with the time of day, weather conditions, height of adjacent buildings, etc.
In some places natural lighting may not be available at all, or when available, may not be dependable. Hence, most modern offices combine both natural and artificial lighting arrangements.
Artificial light may be in the form of table lamps for individual employees, or shaded lamps suspended from the ceiling, or fitted on the walls, or fluorescent tubes or filament bulbs.
Fluorescent lighting is preferred to other types of lighting in offices as it produces less heat and glare, lasts longer, and consumes less electricity. More importantly, the light is more evenly distributed.
Ventilation in the office refers to the supply of clean and fresh air of the right amount, right temperature and humidity (moisture in the air). As a rule, the office should be well ventilated. Constant flow of fresh air in the office reduces fatigue.
In the absence of proper ventilation, the rooms become stuffy, especially during rainy seasons, causing drowsiness and dullness in the employees. Droughts, especially during summer when hot winds blow, cause irritation to the staff.
In a hot and humid country like India, the problem is one of ensuring a steady flow of cool, dustless, air in the right speed and humidity (at least 600 cubic feet per person per hour is the normal requirement). The following steps might help in ensuring proper ventilation in the office:
- Windows, doors and ventilators must be properly located so that a constant inflow of fresh air and outflow of stale air is ensured. Electric fans, exhaust fans, blowers and air filters may be used to draw in natural air, filter the dust and diffuse the air evenly throughout the office.
- An air-conditioning system can be installed to eliminate the problem of cleanliness, heat, humidity, noise, etc. One great advantage of air-conditioning is that it keeps the temperature at a uniform level all through the year. It not only ensures good ventilation but filters the air as well. But, it is a costly system and the office manager must weigh the pros and cons carefully before installing the same.
The following methods are generally used to maintain proper ventilation:
Natural ventilation may be obtained by providing enough doors, windows and ventilators of the right type at the right places. They would ensure a regular flow of fresh air from the outside and of stale air from the inside. Natural ventilation can be increased by providing roof ventilators and internal tube ventilators.
Artificial ventilators may be achieved by use of electric fans, exhaust fans, air-coolers, air filters etc.
Noise may be defined as an unwanted sound inside or outside an office. The effects of noise on employee’s performance include difficulty of concentration (hence, reduced output), high error rates, increased fatigue and low morale.
Even frictions among employees may be traced to mental irritation caused by noise. The office manager trying to provide a good work environment must, therefore, pay attention to the causes producing noise, internal as well as external, and try to control the same through some positive steps.
The sources of internal noise are: conversation, rustling of paper, scrapping of chairs against the floor, clicking of typewriter keys and use of other noise making equipment, the ringing of the telephone, door movements, noisy fans, call bells, toilet operation, and movement of employees and visitors through corridors and gangways. The problems of internal noise are within the control of the office manager.
The source of external noise are noise from moving vehicles, machinery, street sounds etc. Much of it enters the office through open doors and windows. The best way to avoid external noise is to locate the office in a quiet area.
Cleanliness, Sanitation and Health
Insanitary conditions may affect the health of employees adversely and they may find it difficult to discharge their duties properly. It is, therefore, necessary that office rooms are kept neat and clean, free from bad odour and infection. To this end, disinfectants should be used. Walls, partitions, ceilings, doors and windows should be whitewashed, painted or varnished at least once in two years.
Besides providing congenial working conditions in the office, the office manager should also adopt suitable measures to ensure the safety of all employees working in the. office. This is because accidents can occur even in offices on account of various reasons like:
- Floors are highly polished and slippery.
- Floors and staircases sometimes remain wet with water, soap or oily substances;
- Floors are covered with torn or loose carpets;
- Trailing of telephone wires on the floor;
- Leakage of electricity;
- Poor lighting and ventilation; and
- Sharp edges of wooden and metal equipment which are not covered.
One of the important functions of an office is to keep and preserve documents for future reference and use. To this end, all documents and office records should be kept under proper security. No piece of record should be taken out of office premises without seeking proper permission.
Where the security arrangements are poor, there is always a possibility of theft, unauthorized removal or destruction of office records. To ward off such threats, it is necessary to keep important documents (deposit receipts, title deeds, bills of exchange, cheque books, registration documents, etc.) in office safes or bank lockers.
Employees should be asked to take care of important official papers. They should be held responsible for any loss of records under their charge. Modem organizations employ night guards as a special security measure. Large-scale organizations go for fidelity guarantee insurance to cover the risk of defalcation, fraud, and embezzlement on the part of employees.
Other security measures like seeking reports regarding the behavior of employee from respectable persons (known as reference checking), demanding cash security from employees handling cash, etc. have become quite common these days.
After employees are appointed, they should be given identity cards. This helps in preventing unauthorized entry of outsiders inside an office.