Stressors and Performance (02-23-17)

Lamb and Kwok looked at the effects of workplace stressors on performance.  They report on a study that collected data from office workers over 8 months: “Participants completed a total of 2261 online surveys measuring perceived thermal comfort, lighting comfort and noise annoyance, measures of work performance, and individual state factors underlying performance and wellbeing. Characterising inadequate aspects of IEQ [Indoor Environmental Quality] as environmental stressors, these stress factors can significantly reduce self-reported work performance and objectively measured cognitive performance by between 2.4% and 5.8% in most situations, and by up to 14.8% in rare cases. . . . Exposure to environmental stress appears to erode individuals' resilience, or ability to cope with additional task demands. These results indicate that environmental stress reduces not only the cognitive capacity for work, but the rate of work (i.e. by reducing motivation). Increasing the number of individual stress factors is associated with a near linear reduction in work performance indicating that environmental stress factors are additive. . . .  Environmental stressors reduce occupant wellbeing (mood, headaches, and feeling ‘off’) causing indirect reductions in work performance.”

S. Lamb and K. Kwok.  2016.  “A Longitudinal Investigation of Work Environment Stressors on the Performance and Wellbeing of Office Workers.”  Applied Ergonomics, vol. 52, pp. 104-111.