It was standing room only at Trevor Nightingale's organizational productivity seminar.

Can building automation improve productivity?

Jan. 23, 2018
Short answer: yes. Long answer? If done correctly it can improve attraction, retention and engagement of employees.

Monday's educational session at the 2018 AHR Expo, “Improving Organizational Productivity with Building Automation Systems” was presented by Trevor Nightingale, PhD, in association with the Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA). Nightingale is a member of the National Research Council, an organization dedicated to improving government decision-making and public policy.

Nightingale opened his seminar with information from Canada’s National Research Council. The Council just released the first of a three-phase study that shows the connection between organizational productivity and Building Automation Systems. It supports three corporate pillars: attraction, retention, and engagement of employees. Its results will be particularly useful for building owners or companies wondering what, if any, benefits major retrofits, automation, and sustainability bring using, among other metrics, the cost of input to value of output.

“Traditional productivity thinking doesn’t apply here,” Nightingale said. “There’s no single metric you can pull out that is the quantifiable definition of productivity.”

That is, saying BAS will decrease employee absenteeism is a rather myopic way of measuring the benefits. In the same vein, considering only one method of building improvement won’t work. The efforts should dovetail with efforts to combat the recent trend of employees’ disengagement that major newspapers have been reporting on lately.

Building owners can consider switching from an open space plan to something that yields a bit more privacy. The study shows this method reduces absenteeism by a factor of 3.2 and turnover by 18%; it increases job satisfaction by 5-10% and increased health and well-being.

Overall the study found better performing buildings lead to lower energy costs, less maintenance, and more flexibility plus happier employees more likely to stay on.

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