Feeling weary and uncomfortable at your desk on a Monday morning? A new analysis of workplace complaints shows you’re not alone, with more people complaining on Monday than any other day.
We’ve found, from analysing over 6,000 office workers’ complaints, that gripes about being too hot, too cold, too stuffy or too draughty are more frequent on Mondays (25% of all complaints) and fall dramatically throughout the week (14% of all complaints on Friday). This is an aggregation of information from over two years of records, for 34 office buildings around Australia.
A seasonal analysis of building occupant complaints shows that the number of complaints generally follows the cooling/heating requirements of the building. In summer the building is fighting the outside weather conditions to cool the people inside while in winter the buildings fight the external cold to keep people warm.
So weather conditions clearly do influence the comfort of the people inside office buildings. Is clothing a factor? Do males and females experience seasonal changes differently on account of their dress? Neither of these issues can explain why more people complain less on a Friday and more on a Monday, though. Is it all psychological?
It’s easy to imagine that some Monday complaints in summer may in fact be related to how buildings behave on the weekend. The air conditioning system of well managed building is generally switched off over the weekend, keeping energy costs and emissions low, so the air and the materials in the building heat up over a summer weekend. This heat will be stored in the building’s materials, or thermal mass. So come Monday morning the building will be warmer inside and could easily lead to people being too hot and uncomfortable if they arrive early on a Monday morning.
However, most people arrive after buildings have managed to achieve comfortable and cool conditions. – using energy in the process to cool down the air, the building fabric and the people inside. Mondays don’t only affect comfort, they also influence the energy used for the building’s air conditioning. One Sydney building studied showed that 6% more energy was used for building air conditioning on Mondays than any other day of the week. More about that in a future post!
Interestingly, both too hot and too cold complaints vary in the same linear fashion throughout the week. Can cooling complaints really be linked to stored ‘coolth’ in the building during winter?
Or is there really an underlying psychological factor which makes us complain more on Mondays? I bet there is a feel-good factor on Friday which means we complain less. Only four days to go!
Great work. We know this anecdotally, but it is great to see the numbers. There is of course a psychological effect to Mondays, but there is also the mechanical. In most circumstances building systems are shut down on Sundays. Beyond the energy consumption needed to move the thermal mass and get air temperatures into an operating range, we also have the latent effect of moving the temperatures of all of the FF&E inside. So it stands to reason that the occupant would continue to experience drafts and discomfort, even though our equipment indicates we are providing the proper air temps. We look forward to seeing the energy data as a corollary.
Thanks for the response CBRE. The link between tenant comfort and building energy consumption opens up a whole new avenue for action research in buildings, an area which we are very focussed on. More interesting insights will follow! Let us know if you are keen to get involved.
Nice work Jesse. Were any of the 34 office buildings surveyed located in the top end? I'd predict a relatively flat "too cold" trend over the year; we're dressed for the outside warmth and then have to put on cardigans and jackets in the office! Always appreciate a new word, well done with "coolth".
Hi Sara, we don't have any buildings up in the top end (Darwin, Australia), the majority of our buildings are in the CBDs on Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Sounds like your building has room to raise temperatures a little (and save energy)!
It will be interesting to see what happens when you throw humidity into the mix. Often you find air conditioned buildings in tropical areas being operated to manage humidity as much as occupant comfort (by condensing moisture out of the air by over-cooling it). Ultimately we should try to get a measure of complaints versus 'predicted' comfort. Maybe then we'll see the old-fashioned fan make a resurgence?