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Needless to say, such variations have been felt in the way buildings are designed. As such, building designs have been persistently evolving. Initially, what appeared to matter so much, as far as building…
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Reducing Stress and Increasing Effectiveness: Proposal of a Banking Environment INTRODUCTION The evolution of the world has been accompanied by new, varied concepts. Needless to say, such variations have been felt in the way buildings are designed. As such, building designs have been persistently evolving. Initially, what appeared to matter so much, as far as building designs are concerned, pertained to beauty and the size of the building to enable it serve the intended purposes. In contrast, the transformations in the current, evolving world have changed the whole scenario. In general, this is clearly depicted by concepts such as ergonomics, inclusivity, safety, security, and health and building location, among other elements. As if not enough, desirable work place environments has shaped the building design paradigms in certain ways, including the necessitation of incorporation of aspects pertaining to efficiency, as well as a reduction of stress at the work place (Broberg,1997).
Indeed, in the current world, building designs concepts and building designs are arguably inseparable. Building design concepts are inclined on coming up with designs of equipment and devises, including buildings that are suitable for human operations. Such are subject to body movement, not to forget, the bodies’ cognitive abilities. Thus, the objective of desirable design concept is to foster productivity while fulfilling the health requirements. As such, the desirable design concept is most appreciable when designing products such as equipment and furniture, as well as machines that contain interfaces that are not only reliable, but easy for use (Broberg, 1997).
Clearly, this relate to building designs. Nevertheless, considering that people have varied physical and cognitive capabilities, the subject of satisfactory building designs may not be fully explored without inclusivity. It is indispensable that buildings designs have to put into considerations the needs of people with disabilities such as the deaf, the blind, and those on wheelchairs. Inclusivity is a point that most engineers have to put into consideration, especially when the underlying goal is to design buildings that could be accessed by all groups of people with prompting customization. What is worth noting is that desirable inclusive designs should be fit all equality groups although emphasis may be laid on disabled people.
On the other hand, it is limiting to design buildings based on ergonomic concepts and inclusivity alone. Other elements of desirable building designs, especially office areas, include Safety, security, sustainability , Comfort, accessibility, Lightning/Day Lightning, Privacy, enclosures, density, decoration, Catering for Nursing Mothers, Colors and indoor air quality, etcetera. Closely related to these include location of Convenience Store, Kiosk with Vending Machines, Lobby, Atria or Common Space, Cafeteria or Dining Hall, - Private Toilets or Restrooms, Physical Fitness Area, Relaxation centers and parking areas. Currently, management and workers have concerns about the work quality, as well as occupations health and safety. The trending developments in information and communication technologies and specialization in the working environments make desirable building designs to be necessary. This paper proposes a building design that is suitable for a banking office that assures effectiveness while reducing stress.
PROBLEM STATEMENT
The dire need for building designs that increase the effectiveness while reducing stress at workplaces may not be overemphasized. Building owners want their buildings to meet the demands of the users. Conversely, users have high expectations about modern-day buildings, the so-called ‘post-modern buildings’. Today, engineering designs have moved to a high notch, thanks to the facilitation of knowledge derived from other disciplines, researches and technological developments, as well as the increase in number of practitioners in the arena of building and engineering designs. The eventualities are that that there are varied approaches aimed at increasing effectiveness, ensuring safety and reducing stress to users, especially in the work place context. What complicates the subject even more is the fact that there are several issues that need to put into consideration so as to meet the objectives of, again, varied building purposes. Thus, one wonders whether all the design approaches are apt. Considering how competitive the banking sector is, building designs would be particularly pertinent. A bank that does not design work places in a manner that ensures efficiency and reduces may fail to meet the critical deadlines set by customers, resulting to loss of reputation, loss of revenue and penalization. Thus, what is of particular importance is to incorporate various elements governing effectiveness and stress in the building designs that are fit for baking environment.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
The objective is to come up with a description of building design ensures efficiency and stress reduction at work places, in the banking environment. The objectives of this research are to:
1. Examine various factors that underlying building designs that increase the work place effectiveness
2. Identify various factors underlying building designs that reduce stress at the work place
3. Identify specific actions that should be incorporated into building designs to increase work place effectiveness while reducing stress, in the banking environment.
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
Considering that work place effectiveness and reduction of stress is dependent upon various factors, the research methodology would entail conducting an inquiry from potential bank place workers, customers, and managers, among other stakeholders. This is also in consideration of the fact that the development of designs to ensure effectiveness and reduce stress cannot be effectively achieved when consultation and the decision is limited among to certain individuals; the designers.
The research methodology would entail conducting an inquiry about the preferences that should constitute a building design to ensure effectiveness and reduce stress at workplaces. In this regard, the use of questionnaires would be a pertinent. The inquiry would be categorized into two, on the based on the category of potential stakeholders. This would include the physically challenged, the un-challenged, and the potential bank work place employees. The questionnaire would be designed in a manner that covers all the pertinent ergonomic aspects (see Appendix A). These groups may overlap in certain ways, however, what distinguishes the bank employee group from the other groups is the fact it consists of people working in bank environment. The group that is most versed with banks’ workplace environment. Nevertheless, the design ensures that the interest of all the people to interact with the bank place environment is well represented. In each group, a sample of 40 individual would be chosen randomly to fill the questionnaires about their preference of a desirable bank work place design that meets the desired goals. The majority’s preferences would be considered as the design that ensures effectiveness and reduces stress. The processes of ascertaining the popularity of the preferences would depend upon the simple majority of participants that stand for the preferences.
MOTIVATION
1. The desire to earn intellectual respectability
2. The desire to satisfy the intellectual fulfillment for work creativity
3. The desire to face the challenges underlying unsolved problems in engineering designs.
4. The desire to help increase effectiveness and reduce stress in the banking environment.
THESIS SCOPE
The scope of this paper shall entail all the areas that have a bearing on the working environment, as well as the feelings of the employees and clients. As such, areas of concern include:
Nature of the floor; the color, smoothness and reflect ability
The building size: the length, width, and height.
The nature of the wall: the colors used and smoothness
The Nature of the tellers: the height of the tellers, the number of tellers, the position of tellers, the size of the tellers, position of specific tellers (such as inquiry, withdrawal, and deposit tellers)
The lighting system: the number of lights, the brightness, the position of the lights
Security Systems: CCTV camera positions, nature, mirror position, and sizes
Doors and Windows; position, size and position
Offices: sizes of offices and locations relative to the banking halls
Clock room, Escalators, and Stair cases: location
Warning Signs
Workplace Inclusivity and safety
inclusivity,
Safety,
security,
sustainability ,
Comfort
accessibility, Lightning/Day Lightning, Privacy, enclosures, density, decoration,
location of Convenience Store, Kiosk with Vending Machines, Lobby, Atria or Common Space, Cafeteria or Dining Hall, - Private Toilets or Restrooms, Physical Fitness Area, Relaxation centers and parking areas.
The scope of this research is based upon the assumption that increasing the effectiveness of employees at workplaces and enabling them manage their stress levels begin with exposing them to their preferences. Such preferences cannot be well understood without directly interacting with them.
CONSTRAINTS AND LIMITATIONS
This research study suffers from one main inherent constraints; hence limitation; cultural bias. It is indispensable that the world is endowed with cultural diversity. Cultural diversity becomes constraining factor when the preferences differ. For instance, whereas some cultures may prefer white as the favorite bank color, others may prefer yellow to white. Thus, it is not possible to satisfy the varied preferences, a situation that could compromise the designs in terms of effectiveness and stress reduction. This implies that the research findings would only be limited to the optimal preferences, as opposed to preferences in the strict sense.
Considering that preferences may be varied and dependent of culture, this research will incorporate all the preferences of all the people around the globe. It would be limited to a banking environment in a typical Nigerian City.
ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE
The research findings would shed light on how all forms of buildings, in general, could be designed to reduce stress while increasing the effectiveness among its users. More often than not, engineering designs have been a subject of various aspects that have not be been easy to understand and manipulate. This research lends a way.
In other cases, the building designs have often been something that building design owners have made the overall decisions. These research findings would elucidate the necessity of the approach of consulting the potential users of the buildings, so as to ascertain that user’s preferences to constitute the building characteristics. For the building owners and engineering designers that may not be unable to carry out a survey to test the preferences of potential users, the expected research findings will, all the same, enlighten some of the preferences that the building designs should give considerations. Additionally, considering that research does not have an end to itself, the findings in this research shall lay a foundation of the future research studies on the related topics.
Indeed, as technological developments take shape, ergonomics concepts are destined at increasingly assuming the pivotal role in the building designs, work place safety, and health and stress reduction. Building designing entails the development an application of various scientific principles to analyze, design, and install, as well as improve integrated systems comprising of material, people, management and equipment to foster the most productive and conducive working environment. Ergonomic concepts, on the other hand, intervene to offer enabling environment, which includes comfort, convenience, user acceptability, and productivity of the working environment. In this regard, system efficiency, improved productivity, and improved working condition are inclined on ergonomics; hence, the relevance of the research findings to the modern-day architecture.
LITERATURE REVIEW
The workplace designs, also referred to as the office, should be considered to be different from other forms of building designs. In developed world, a large percentage of the population is employed in the office environment, as opposed to the past when only five percent of the population worked in the office setting. This point is only a reflection of how crucial and critical the necessity of building designs for office environments is. However, intriguing is the fact that the distribution of costs of an organization that specializes in offering services is 4 percent for the facility and about 5 percent for the daily operations. Furniture only takes 1 percent while salaries take as significant as 90 percent of the costs (Wulff, Rasmussen &Westgaard, 1997). Making adjustments through designing the workplace for stress reduction and enhanced efficiency could go a long way in leveraging the associated costs; hence, increase productivity while reducing stress.
Common proposals to Reduction of Stress and increase of efficiency
Hunter and Howlett (2003) acknowledge that the evolution of the world has been accompanied emergence of new concepts in regard to how the workplace should be designed to enhance efficiency while reducing stress. Such developments have been orchestrated by the fact that business relations have also been changing, as well as technological innovations and changing business reforms. In this regard, there is the need for the business environments to be adjusted to reflect these requirements. The interior and the anterior spaces should be designed in the manner that is flexible to support the contemporary working environments. There has been the need for the designers to create generations of flexible workplace environments that comprise of infrastructure and structure that support change, as well as those that support sustainable technologies and diverse teams and individuals.
Aspect of Mobility
One of the aspects that should be giving uttermost consideration is enhanced mobility for the staff, inclusivity of the geographical and culturally diverse groups and use of social networking. More often than not, workplaces have been responding by adopting an array of approaches, including designing workplaces that support large teams, virtual staff and creating allowance for the integration of learning to the workplace experiences. Attention has been extended to work location flexibility and aligning the workplace to the needs, as opposed to the traditional approach that advocated workplace needs to be aligned to the nature of the environment. Furthermore, more workplaces are adopting a design that creates the allowance for the relaxation engagement of the staff, as a way of reducing stress while fostering a sense of community.
Designs that support mobility would include the integration of technological devices such as mobile phones, which would enable the staff members to move in a manner that is effortless. Multiple spaces should be provided for the group work, as well as personal work. Internet and network connection should be offered throughout to link every staff member. The aspect of formal social interaction should not also be overlooked. Desirable building designs are those with ample spaces for workers to meet and greet, as well as workspaces that are informal such as cafeteria, which should be centrally located to encourage accessibility by every staff member. Workplace designs should also provide rooms that are enclosed to support different types of meetings. In the cases that the informal workspaces are used, they should be separate from the quire spaces occupied by individuals. The rooms should also be allocated for specific projects. As if not enough, if open spaces, such as pods, are utilized, there is the need to offer sound rooms to suit individual concentrations. Even so, the concentration booths should be located close to the work spaces while the zone spaces should meet a wide range of interactive and quiet needs. Every workplace should consider having spaces for playfulness and relaxation purposes.
The aspect of Ample Space
As far as spaces are concerned, offices may incorporate an array of office spaces. The designs should also incorporate various visitor and employee support services such as vending machines, convenience stores, kiosks, social creation and gathering spaces, dining hall/ cafeteria, rest rooms, anterior parking areas and physical wellness centers. Administrative offices may be semi-private, private or visually. Maintenance and operation spaces should have the general storage space, including those for equipment, instructional material and stationary. The preparation areas and the kitchen, as well as the technology closets and personal computer related information should be offered.
The aspect of Cost-effectiveness
Cost-effectiveness of the design is also crucial. The evaluations should be done to high performance office based on the material evaluation models and economic life-cycle models. There is the need for the owners to optimize on the performance of the building through initial investment to save on the investments that are long-term. In order to achieve cost-effectiveness of the building designs, value engineering should be consulted to assess the performance of every component of the design versus the potential long-term goals. Value engineering should always be carried out in the initial phases of the building and construction so that solutions can be sought to optimize the ratios and costs of the project at completion. Value engineering is pivotal because it offers ideas of reducing the lifecycle costs while enhancing the outcomes of the building designs. During the construction phase, the constructors are encouraged to share technical expertise on ways of cutting down the costs of the building while focusing on the enhancement of effectiveness and reduction of stress to the users of the building.
More often than not, it is expectable that the initial costs of designing buildings that put all these into considerations should be relatively high. However, they are accompanied by relatively low long-term costs; hence, such designs may be regarded as cost effective (Mustafa, Kamarudin &Mokhtar, 2009. In this regard, the concept of designing buildings with consideration of how to minimize stress and increase productivity, especially at work places, is most welcome. This is more so when various standards governing building designs are increasingly incorporating the concepts and requiring building design compliance.
The requirements of the tenants and building users
The building designs should give considerations to the needs of the potential users and tenants. This touches on the preferred images, public accessibility, security requirements, hours of operations and vulnerability limits. Other imperatives include technological requirements, group assembly requirements, growth potential, special utility services, special health hazards, economic objectives and acoustic requirements. Administering and looking at all of these activities is not only time consuming, but also problematic job. Therefore, a site plan and a check list should be put together prior to construction of the project starts. The check list is a necessary part of the building process since it makes the manager to know what to be carried out before the task is started.
It is imperative that every participant during the design and construction of the building remain engaged and focused towards the achievement of the goals. For instance, the manager should get approval from the local authority to clear the site. The site manager should acquire from the council diagrams of the underground pipes and all other services, such as water, electricity and gas before any boring work can be carried out on the site. This information is important to the planning of the site layout for the construction. Next, the site manager requires giving the layout to the excavation team to make sure that they understand the boarders surrounding the pipes and cables. In addition, this ensures that excess soil remains on the site. Lastly, they require choosing and organizing what method of boring equipment will be suitable for the site. Before the start of any construction work, the site must be leveled. The site manager has three methods to choose: cut and fill, cut or fill.
The next work is for the surveyor to set out the real main building lines of the building. Then they set up profile boards, which show the works where to put the foundations and walls.In order to assist coordinate all of these steps, the site manager requires having an office where they can work from and get accurate information about the materials, tools and workers on the site. In order for the site manager to identify workers on the site there are many tags that are put onto people, tools and materials so they can be identified when they enter the job site. This helps the managers to know the arrival and departure times. The site manager is also needed to ensure occupational safety procedures of the construction employees are adhered to and they should put on protective gear that is needed. Every participant, as well as the design and construction processes and procedures and pivotal in aligning the building to the desirable goals, which would eventually reduce stress while enhancing efficiency.
Aspect of Flexibility
Flexible buildings are those that have the capability to accommodate frequent alterations and innovations following change management. Such building are said to meet the churn capability and this could result from the change of individuals, shift in the workplace models, and adoption of technological developments (Mustafa, Kamarudin &Mokhtar, 2009). The office infrastructure and building furnishing, among other components of the design, should be in the position of meeting such challenges. In designing offices for flexibility, the following may be considered, as an example.
Designers should prefer raised floors that create the allowance for easy accessibility and power cabling adjustments. Another feature of importance is the capability of air distribution to enhance the comfort of the occupants. Others features such as fiber and voice, data, plug and play, conferring hubs and harnessed wiring should be incorporated to allow for the flexibility of the workplaces.
In regard to support for flexibility, it has been proposed that the workplace should be designed in the manner that I flexible in delivering voice, data and power (Mustafa, Kamarudin &Mokhtar, 2009). The vertical cores, horizontal plenum spaces and satellite closets should be offered, including user-based services that could be relocated with relative ease to reflect environmental, spatial and technical needs of technologically, changing workplace environments. Additionally, the systems should be controllable by the staff with relative ease, without necessarily relying on the services of the contractors. Some of the personal control features include personal air jet diffusers and lighting systems that could be controlled remotely.
Aspect of Urban Planning
The concentration of buildings, human population and staff workers have a significant impact on the nature and effectiveness of the workplace, as far as stress reduction is concerned. This implies that the element of urban planning is crucial to overlook. The building locations of offices could bring vitality of neighborhoods by promoting business and economic and social links. Buildings designed for workplaces are often affected by the municipal planning and zoning, which is aimed at promoting vibrant neighborhoods, as well as land-use practices that are compatible. Closely related to this point is the location that building should be placed to reduce the distances to be covered by the users and employees of the building. The zip code origination, as well as other relevant studies, should be conducted to determine the locations that are best for the building establishment (Mustafa, Kamarudin &Mokhtar, 2009).
Conventionally, the establishment of new office locations would always result in the relocation of the staff to the area. One of the elements that should be considered to be imperative to reduction of stress and enhancement of the workplace productivity include assessment of the costs of housing, the congestion of the traffic, availability of recreational facilities, security systems and other civic infrastructures. After the construction of the buildings, processes pertaining to metering, reporting and monitoring the building should always be conducted and building designs should always leave the allowance for these.
Aspect of productivity enhancement
There are various ways of increasing the workplace productivity. One way would include utilizing strategies that include increasing the air ventilation rates, using low toxicity materials and air quality monitoring. The second way would include offering individualized air conditioning systems that allow for user customization, including the preferences of air movements. Whereas one of the inherent approaches to increased the effectiveness and reduction of stress cannot be quantized, this target is achieved when the staff or the workers are subjected to stimulating an harmonious working environments. Opportunities such as access to windows, workplace interaction and customized control of the environmental conditions are undoubtedly imperative in creating the enabling environments. The provision of the natural light is considered to be of great importance to the psychological wellness of the building users. Building designs should strive to ensure that the users of the building have the access to the windows and natural light. Furthermore, the office acoustical environment should be well integrated with other architectural systems and office furnishing (Mustafa, Kamarudin &Mokhtar, 2009). Even as these remain pertinent, considerations should also be given to the control of noise in workplace settings. As such, noise absorptive material and white noise masking should be incorporated into building designs.
The aspect of technical connectivity
It is worth noting that technology has been widely considered to be crucial for business, education and even industrial environments. Considering that technology is finding a lot of application in the office setting, building designs ought to give consideration to a wide range of elements. One of the areas is that new building designs should be designed in a manner such that creates the allowance for flexibility in the distribution of the information technology infrastructure. During the initial phases of building design, all the necessary technological systems should be given uttermost considerations, including Wide Area Networks, Local Area Networks, and Wireless Fidelity and supporting conduit runs.
Aspect of Security
In the past, one of the issues of concern regarding building design has also revolved around security issues. These have been orchestrated by a series of terrorist attacks across the world, including the September 11 attack. Building designs should be informed by vulnerability assessment, security requirement and risk analyses.The entrance points should not leave a lot of vantage for visitors. The designs should also utilize the site barriers and network intrusion techniques to curb virtual security. One of the comprehensive approaches in enhancing security is by embracing the Crime Preventions through Environmental Designs (CPTED) strategy. It cannot be disputed that building security remains one of the issues of serious concern for most buildings in the world since it also touches on safety. Buildings security is aimed at curbing criminal activities that pertain to hijacking, destruction of buildings, and assault on employee. Moreover, it cannot be disputed that a significant number of people access office building. This makes buildings to be vulnerable to terrorism, as well as other forms of criminal activities. The vulnerability of buildings to criminal activities increases with the increase in the number of people ferried by airlines. These incidences have been the driving motive to enhance buildings security.
In regard to this, various developments have been continuously taking shape, entailing the shift in paradigms regarding security. Here, Crime Preventions through Environmental Designs (CPTED) is one of the areas that are worth mentioning. This approach is aimed at reducing chances of crime occurrence based on effective design, plan and management of the environment, including the natural landscaped environment and the built environment. However, it is argued that the concept of utilizing the environment to foster security is not new. CPTED should be considered as a contemporary approach with an old background. The CPTED approach is dominated by Jeffrey’s and Newman’s ideas, which also complement each other. Both Jeffrey’s and Newman’s ideas acknowledge the imperativeness of utilizing or modifying the environment to curb criminality (Mustafa, Kamarudin &Mokhtar, 2009). There various strategies and theories that constitute the CPTED approach. In order to delineate the strategies underlying the CPTED approach, it is imperative to give considerations to imperatives underlying Newman’s and Jeffery’s ideas. As stated, Jeffery’s idea is considered as one of the notions that shape the CPTED approach. The Jeffery’s aides offered an encouragement to the crime prevention approaches to alter environmental conditions in order to curb crimes, including increasing the involvement of citizens, as well as proactive policing. Thus, according to Jeffery, there can be no approach that prevents the occurrence of crimes by making changes in all areas of the environment while reducing crime opportunities. Arguably, the Jeffery’s idea on the CEPTED approach was based o his experiences with rehabilitative projects aimed at controlling the juvenile schooling environment. By embracing the Skinner’s learning theory, Jeffrey’s idea laid emphasis on the role that the physical environment played in developing painful and pleasurable experiences that would shape the resultant behaviors. This concept should be integrated in the building designs in order to curb security issues.
Aspect of safety
As far as safety is concerned, building designs intervene by eliminating hazards. Alternatively, building designs could intervene by introducing barriers between the potentially damaging phenomena and the building users. As such, design controls and designs are effective at protecting the users from harm, and this should be independent of user interactions to offer a high degree of safety (Boyce, Hunter and Howlett, 2003).
The aspect of sustainability
The evolution of the world has been accompanied by stipulations that require industrial engineers and business leaders to embrace transition to sustainable development. Here, the concerns to conserve the environment have arisen. This has been informed by the fact that sustainable development is dependent upon environmental management. Besides, human beings are argued to be imparting substantial pressure on the environment and altering its mother-nurture capability while limiting its capacity to serve the human and other living organisms effectively. As far as industrial engineering and business practices are concerned, rules, regulations and non-compliance penalties have been set to govern the practices. This finding does not only give the picture that most business and engineering practices are not only doing well to avoid non-compliance penalties, but also increases confidence to the reliant community that business leaders and industrial engineers are delivering satisfactory services in line with sustainable development. Undoubtedly, sustainable environmental building has an impact on the nature of the stress management and efficiency of the workplace setting.
As far as building design is concerned, there are various aspects that touch on sustainability, including the space used, the painting of the building, refuse disposal, building location, material to be employed in the construction, infrastructure, energy use and facilities to be set in the buildings, so on. There is always the need of the engineering designs to consult environmental impact assessment. Environmental impact assessments are often established to assess and ascertain the environmental human impact. They serve to ensure that human activities are informed by costs and the benefits that are to be impacted on the environment. The assessment further informs authorities on the decisions to take to avert the consequences. For instance, if environmental impact assessments establish that the construction of a dam or a building would have far-reaching consequences on the environment, they would inform the government authorities, which may then decide to halt the project or advice on ways in which the project could explore alternatives to be in line with sustainable development dream.
Even after the completion of the construction process, building assessment should be conducted to ascertain how effective the building would be in suiting the workplace requirements. Such processes may then be followed by the awarding of certificates, which could include energy or non-drywall certificates. Energy performance certificate issuance is an initiative that is aimed at hastening the realization of the sustainable development. This is especially because energy use is one of the elements that dictate sustainable development. As far as the process of awarding energy performance certificates are concerned, a survey is conducted by the assessor on various elements of the property, including loft insulation, hot water tanks, domestic boilers, double glazing, windows and radiators. Technological developments have seen the computerization of the process, whereby the obtained values are fitted into computer software to calculate the energy efficiency. The software result is a single number, the rating of the energy efficiency, and a recommendation of a standard value that the potential improvements should satisfy. There are other pieces of information that informs the issuance of the energy performance certificates, including the per annum energy bills that are taken without the any reference to the bills of the householder (Mustafa, Kamarudin &Mokhtar, 2009). Undoubtedly, such procedures are pivotal to the enhancement of the workplace efficiency and stress reduction.
Aspects of Codes in building design and construction
The code of sustainable building is an environmental assessment criterion for certifying and rating new buildings. It was initially common in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, but has now been adopted by various countries, as one way of striving to realize sustainable development and building efficiency, as well as inclusivity. Most buildings are now required to be in compliance with the codes of sustainable homes. In England, any building, especially that funded by the government bodies, is required to satisfy level 3 of the code. In Northern Ireland, all buildings that are new and self contained are required to satisfy the level 3 of the code.
Governments are now playing a crucial role in enhancing the construction green buildings. The government has taken the first step by encouraging the registration of building with the authorities tasked with the streamlining construction processes with sustainable development. It is worth noting that the code of sustainable homes integrates various imperatives that precede realization of sustainable development. Energy consumption is one of the elements that are considered. Other elements of code compliance include building location, size, inclusivity, water supply, energy consumption considerations and non drywall. Building processes that do not comply with the code risk being sanctioned. One of the merits of compliance with the codes of building construction is that it enables building deigns and constructors to lain the sustainability goals; hence, increase efficiency and reduce stress for the subsequent building users. Increased regulations only function to address areas that had been ignored previously. For instance, incorporation of the subject of building inclusivity into building regulation frame work would ensure that the buildings are suited to every person in the community, including children, as well as people with disabilities.
Aspect of Healthy environment
The indoor environments have far-reaching implication on the physical and psychological wellbeing of its occupants. Some of the crucial aspects that are worth considering include those that pertain to light, color, sense of privacy and noise. In this regard, designing the workplace in order to suit the psychological wellbeing of the environment would go a long way in ensuring that efficiency at the workplace is increased while the stress is reduced significantly. There are various points that have been widely proposed to be imperative, as far as this issue is concerned. One of te point is to provide access to natural daylight, offer adequate ventilation, control sources of air contamination, prevent excess levels of moisture concentration and enhance the desirable aspects of physical space.
Aspect of Ergonomics
Ergonomics has a crucial role to play as a far as the working environments are concerned. The efficiency and productivity at the work place is dependent upon the interventions offered by ergonomics. The concept of ergonomics gained popularity during Second World War, during the technological revolution in America and Europe. Ergonomic concept is the most popular in North America and Europe. Currently, the concept is spreading relatively first so that developing countries are also applying the concepts at workplace designs, such as in the industries (Boyce, Hunter &Howlett, 2003).
According to Boyce, Hunter and Howlett (2003), ergonomics has currently attained a new meaning following the following the changes that are taking place in the work rules that lay emphasis on safety, improved tool designs and increased efficiencies at work places. It is now possible for engineers to design tools that are efficient in terms of operation, transportation, maintenance, as well as in terms of ease to build. There are various engineering tools that create allowance for the engineer to design and simulate machines under safe working environments. These are facilitated by improved industrial standards, as well as new materials. It is pertinent for every organization to apply appropriate ergonomic designs to minimize injuries while increasing effectiveness. Ergonomic serves two main purposes. In one way, it is purposed at increased effectiveness and efficiency; hence, productivity. In the other way, ergonomics functions to promote certain human values, which include increased comfort, reduced fatigue, and stress, increased satisfaction of jobs, reduced physiological costs and improved life quality Boyce, (Hunter &Howlett, 2003). Static and awful postures would quick result in tiredness, discomfort, numbness, illness. This would be followed by illnesses, faints, and injuries. This would further culminate into absenteeism and even retirement (Perrow, 1983). What may make the situation even dire is when the workers demand compensations.
A study conducted by Broberg (2009) on the 680 engineers working in Danish enterprises revealed the engineers are not aware about the kind of influence they have on the working environment of other people. This was attributable to the fact that managements, as well as organizations concerned with the safety of the working environments did not have much expectation about the area. These findings give implications that the rating of ergonomics among the engineers could be significantly low. Additionally, implies that ergonomic concepts are yet to be fully integrated in the engineering designs. Nevertheless, the findings also gave indications that engineering schools that offered training in the area were limited.
Broberg (2007) suggests that enterprise engineering cultures, in conjunction with organization factors, play a crucial role to affect the professional training. This holds implication for the ergonomists to acknowledge the role of the agents of change in the attempt to integrate ergonomic concepts into engineering designs. Such a move would be accompanied by the recognition that engineers are different; they have differing approaches, backgrounds, as well as sensitivity towards ergonomic. These depend on the current domains in engineering, besides the organizational position, tasks, and the branches of their industrial organizations. This could challenge, as far as the integration of ergonomic concepts in engineering are concerned. Indeed, the point that engineers are different is not without the implication of diverse designs, which are not governed by any reliable ergonomic standards. Such a situation could not be any different for other areas of the globe.
One of the approaches aimed at integrating ergonomic concepts into engineering designs is inclined on the skills and knowledge of the engineers. Considering that engineers are not fully acquainted with ergonomic concepts, a way out would include administering information, data, as well as principles pertaining to ergonomics to them. According to Sullivan and MCLean (1997), there is the potential of integrating ergonomics into engineering in administering skills and knowledge to engineers, in ways that they could be applied. The most appropriate way of achieving these is by delivering such information by using support tools, which have been acquainted by engineers, for instance, the CAD systems ( Laring, Kadefors, Falk &Ortengren, 1996: 34).
Helander (1999:6) carried out an investigation in the circumstances that engineers are likely to give considerations to ergonomics. This is because such concepts are not a must-use in the engineering designs. Helander points out that engineers concerned with designs have often overlooked the importance of ergonomics, considering it as unnecessarily costly. As such, most design engineers lay emphasis on the costs of the building designs rather than the necessity on the ergonomic integration in the engineering designs. Wuff et al (1999) point out that time and costs associated with integration of ergonomic concepts in engineering design are what may constrain designers from putting ergonomics into considerations. Thus, it is recommendable for the ergonomists to sell their ideas to engineering designs with regards to cost-effectiveness. This implies that the integration of ergonomic concepts in the engineering designs has been particularly impeded by the cost that comes with the integration processes.
Another way of integrating ergonomic concepts into engineering designs is by developing ergonomic standards. Even so, Paerker (1997) had earlier made the observation that engineers often ignored the standards since they have often been a subject of formulations that have often inclined on vague and general terms. This was supported by the recent study conducted by Westgard, Wulff and Rasmussen (1999), who propose that the criteria to yield ergonomic standards should be subject to specific formulations.
Another approach of integrating ergonomics is engineering designs has inclined on the attitudes of engineers towards ergonomics. Conceptions about the position of engineers, as well as assumptions pertaining to their responsibility, are what may be considered as the impediments of satisfactory ergonomic designs. Such preconceptions could be overcome by channeling the experiences of the user, as well as encouraging a sense of moral and professional integrity among the engineers (Paerker, 1997). Additionally, Paeker proposes that engineers should be subjected to additional durations in the production so that they can learn the engineering design consequences.
The third approach deviates from the approaches underlying engineering to design processes. Burn and Vincente (2000) base on characteristics underlying engineering processes that pertain to problem-solving. More often than not, engineering practices depart from the standard decision-making processes because of experiences in the working environments. As such, engineers turn to approaches that have proven to be effective during the past experiences, and discard approaches that have ever failed. Such approaches are often manipulated by intuitive thinking, which leave out behavioral aspects and alternative analyses.
Rather than incline on the cognitive approaches of the processes of engineering design, Burn and Vicente (2000) propose that evaluation of the design processes’ character is essential. The processes of engineering designs are governed by the underlying constraints. The way out of the problems in engineering designs is dependent upon the negotiations taking place in the constrained fields that are continuously changing. Burn and Vicente (2000) additionally suggest that it is necessary for ergonomists to hold negotiation about their design priorities with other designers. The more dedicated the ergonomist are at tackling the problems underlying designs; the significant impact they will bear on the eventual designs.
Perrow (1983) points out that organization and management is important, if the organization has to embrace ergonomics. Hereunder, the systems of beliefs, as well as system of rewards are all essential factors that govern the integration of process of ergonomics. The top management can make the overall decision pertaining to the integration of the ergonomic concepts in the engineering designs. Whereas ergonomists are operator defendants, the engineers are considered to incline in top management consistencies. In case of discrepancies, the ergonomists have often taken the blame as engineers are shielded.
As a result of this labor division, the engineers do not give internalizations to ergonomics. In order to overcome such challenges, Perrow proposes the adoption of feedback mechanisms. Based on the Perrow’s perspectives, if operators were allowed to participate in the reviews of design, and designer brought in contact with the operators who are fully experienced, problems pertaining to externalization would be significantly checked. Perrow’s view is supported by Wilkran’s et al (1993), who points out that request and experiences form the personnel dealing in production must be channeled back to the design engineers in a systematic manner.
However, Lehtella (1996) asserts that there are no specific activities to be called workplace design within organizations. As such, there are no people to take the responsibility over work place designs and engineers are only oriented in terms of technology but lack objectives that are work oriented. A design that embraces collaboration of different groups is the ultimate strategy of coming up with workplaces endowed with desirable conditions.
According to Cushman and Rosenberg (1991), integration of ergonomic designs in engineering should begin with including human factor engineers in the design processes. Such an approach is what may be referred to as the concurrent engineering. Concurrent engineering has seen ergonomics being incorporated in various engineering design phases, in the cross-functional design teams of engineers (Fadier&Ciccotelli, 1999).
However, roles of ergonomists in engineering filed are particularly debatable. In some cases, ergonomists are perceived as experts who not only contribute to the design processesbased upon the skills, but also the methodologies. In other instances, ergonomics are only considered to play the facilitators’ roles by giving support to the operators and engineers, enhancing the process of channeling feedback between the two groups and providing a communication link between the field personnel and the managements (Cordiner& Graves, 1996: 34). The roles of the facilitating teams could include management and ergonomic interventions of the groups at work, as a subject of social construction. This creates an allowance for the positive confrontation between the knowledge of the designers and knowledge of the operators (Cordiner& Graves, 1996: 67). Large organizations do not offer desirable environment for ergonomic interventions because it is not easy for the ergonomist to liaise with all the designers in the fields. According to Jansen (2002), there are now various tools that enhance integration of ergonomic concepts into the engineering designs, but the processes are bogged down by the levels of organization, whereby ergonomics does not hold stronger positions. This implies that ergonomists should discard the traditional roles of acting as facilitators or experts, and assume political agent’s role of attempting to gain access to relevant areas and mobilize ergonomic agenda supports.
Another impeding organizational factor that has often been cited is the absence of common language between the engineers and the ergonomists. In this regard, there is a need for training the engineers, as well as the ergonomists on the common field languages, design approaches, and terminologies. Undoubtedly, this would be a solution for enhancing collaboration between the two working groups (Valkenburg&Dorst, 1998).
It is pertinent to draw a line of distinction between the two organization levels. The first level comprises of engineering projects, which consist of their own organizational set ups in terms of subcultures, procedures of management, participating actors, and social dynamics that govern the actors. The other level comprises of enterprise organization whose interaction affects the engineering project. The levels consist of overall dynamics underlying the organization, as well as the top management. These entail aspects such as those pertaining to the strategy, economics, and culture. The introduction of the engineering projects makes engineering to be perceived as a social process that encompasses engineering teams and networks, among other factors. As a matter of fact, most approaches aimed at integrating ergonomics into engineering designs are based upon manipulation of teamwork dynamics (Valkenburg&Dorst, 1998).
The effect of Extra-Organizational factors
There are various studies that have covered constraining effects of external factors to integration of ergonomics in the engineering projects. Parker (1997) points out that ergonomics is lagging behind because there is a limited market demand for ergonomics. Additionally, there is limited feedbacks form the design users, who are either consumers or are based in other firms. External factors could facilitate the integration f ergonomics into engineering designs in various ways, including national regulations that stipulate ergonomic standards for engineering designs to comply.
The state of Ergonomic applications
Mustafa et al (2009) observes that the levels of application of ergonomic concepts in the building designs are significantly low in most countries. Additionally, there are limited statistics to reveal the severity of ergonomic risks. The organizations are also lagging, in spite of the fact that ergonomic precedes productivity. Additionally, ergonomics is still a highly contested subject to be adopted by various countries.
The figure table matrix below summarizes the levels of recognition of Work place ergonomic aspects in Malaysia (Mustafa et al, 2009), depicting that most ergonomic standards leave out a lot to desire.
No
Guideline on Seating at work
Guideline on Standing at work
Guideline on Occupational safety and health in the office
Guideline on Working with VDU
Guideline on the registration of assessors of Hygiene,
Guideline on OBH agriculture
Guideline on Safety health in logging operation
Guideline on health in fishing and aqyuaculture
1
0
0
2
0
2
0
0
0
2
0
0
0
2
0
0
0
0
3
0
0
2
0
0
2
0
0
4
2
2
O
O
0
1
0
5
0
0
1
0
2
2
2
6
0
0
0
1
2
0
0
7
1
0
1
0
0
1
1
8
1
2
2
0
0
1
1
9
1
0
0
1
2
0
1
10
2
1
1
2
1
0
0
11
3
2
3
0
0
0
0
12
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
13
3
1
1
1
1
1
1
14
3
3
2
0
0
1
1
Key
0: Only mentioned
1: never mentioned
2: Described Roughly
3: Described in detail
Aspect of Design inclusivity
Important part of an approach towards inclusivity in building designs pertains to engagements and consultations, yet the effectiveness of these is reliant on the intervention of technological innovations (Lahteli, 1996). Even so, the state of inclusivity in building design leaves a lot to desire. In this regard, it is not all about consulting groups of individuals who use the building, but also utilizing technologies to foster the inclusivity in designs of buildings.
Currently, inclusivity of building designs is all a manifestation of innovations in technologies. Use of the escalator as a replacement for stair-cases is one of the examples. The escalator technology enables the disabled persons and other groups of persons to move up a storey building. It spares them the agony of going through the tedious and ‘relatively hazardous’ stair cases. This is a showcase of technology playing role towards inclusivity of building designs.
In addition, construction designs currently recognize the necessity of building inclusive wash rooms. Various designs of toilets have sprung up and are now under utilization in most buildings, thanks to technological innovations. The necessity of accessible and disabled-favorable toilets cannot be overemphasized. Arguably, a quarter of the world’s population is incapable of utilizing available toilet facilities because since they will require support from other people or require changing (Lahteli, 1996). There have been stipulations around the world on the need of buildings to embrace inclusivity. For instance, the BS8300:2009 standard stipulates that all buildings posses accessible toilets; those that are inclusive. For instance, in the case of a building consisting of one toilet, the stipulations require that it must be unisex and contain enough space for persons with a wheel chair.
In the cases of buildings with multi-occupancy designs such as hostels and residential homes, it is recommended that the buildings consist of rooms wherein: at least five are accessible without the use of track hoist system. More so, 5 percent of the rooms should consist of track hoist system that offer the same extent of safety and convenience, and additional 5 percent that leave allowance for future modifications. Clearly, the allowance for future modification is a lee way for technological development. Additionally, the standard stipulates the creation of accessible toilets that are larger and more equipped than the pre-existing versions, which were suited to persons that could use the facility unaided. The adjustable changing bench, adjustable washing basin, shower seat, and hoist systems are considered the right equipment (Cushman & Rosenberg, 1991). These are products of innovations. Clearly, the process of incorporating inclusivity is a concept that has gained momentum in the recent decades and so it is not fully fledged. Establishment of buildings that embrace effective inclusivity designs is something that is in the process. Additionally, the current designs will keep developing with the emergence of new ideas. This implies that the road to future inclusivity is purely a subject of innovations in technology.
Effect of light on the on the Work place effectiveness
Several studies have investigated impact of light on the building occupants. The impact of light on the clinical setting is particularly documented. What is worth noting about the studies is that bright light reduces stress significantly, especially among the patients suffering from bipolar disorders. Bauchemin& Hays (1996) point out that exposure to natural, bright lights reduces depression. Benedetti et al (2001) established that bipolar inpatients in the rooms that face towards the east would leave the hospital earlier compared to those in the rooms facing the west. There are evidences to show that exposure to bright, natural light during the morning is more effective in the stress reduction than evening natural light (Beauchemin& Hay, 1996).
A study carried out to compare the effectiveness between morning lights and evening lights among the patients depressed about the winter’s seasons found that morning light was two times effective. According to Beauchemin& Hay (1996), the impact of natural light has an impact of stay of patients suffering from other diseases, as well. In all these cases, natural light significantly reduce the patients’ length of stay. Benedetti et al (2001) also established that time of exposure to artificial bright light play a pivotal role towards the improvement of the circadian rhythms and sleep.
Benedetti et al also established that adults in community-dwelling exposed to bright artificial lights for 12 continuous days exhibited changes in sleep. Waking time was significantly reduced by one hour while the efficiency of the sleep improved by as significantly as 90 percent. Other studies have revealed that exposing people to the bright light during the evening significantly improved the patients rest activity rhythms among individuals suffering from dementia. An increase in the natural light levels during day time is accompanied by the increase in the stability of patients’ rest activities. However, the impact was insignificant foe the visually impaired patients (Sloane et al 1997). Sloane et al (1997) established that residents staying in buildings with minimized light levels exhibited high levels of agitation.
The results of a study conducted by Valkenburg and Dorst, (1998) on the impact of environmental lighting interventions on the agitation behavior revealed that the disruptive behaviors reduced significantly. Sloane et al expounds that exposing people to bright light in the morning reduces agitation among patients suffering from dementia. When the dementia patients were exposed to bright, morning lights for two hours for ten days, the agitation levels were found to reduce significantly. Sloane et al (1997) conducted a study to investigate the effect of light on easing pain. Parker (1997) established that patients exposed to high light intensities experienced low levels of stress compared to those admitted in the dim rooms. Additionally, there are various studies revealing that light intensities affect the perception and the mood of people (Boyce et al, 2003). Undoubtedly, changes in the moods and perceptions affect workplace behavior and performance. Boyce et al further acknowledges that the effect of light on the peoples’ mood and perception is dependent upon their preferences, expectations, discomfort, visual capability, and gender.
According to Sloane et al (1997) many people have preferences for natural light compared to artificial lights. They established that office occupants often loved to sit closer to the windows. The participants cited various reasons, including office appearance and pleasantness, psychological comfort, work performance, improved observation, visual health, general health and color appearance of furnishing, as well as people. Whereas windows create allowance for the penetration of light it has not been fully proven that the presence of windows would improve the productivity at workplaces. Some studies reveal that access to windows improved stress among the building users, yet other studies have proven otherwise. Boyce et al (2003) concludes that these variations are because people have varied preferences and expectations. Additionally, factors such thermal discomfort, as well as glare, significantly not only affect mood, but also the performance. However, despite the fact there is no substantial evidence to support the fact that lights alter moods, it cannot be disputed that most building users love to sit closer to windows. Thus, it may be appropriate for building designers to put considerations to glare levels and light levels into light levels.
According to Tumulty & Jernigan (2006), workers exposed to daylight for at least three hours for each day expressed satisfaction in their job, as well as less stress levels. Incorporation of the day light enhancing features could significantly reduce stress levels among the employees. In another study carried out by Sloane et al (1997), increased natural light received approval ratings of 47 percent for very positive impact and 27 percent for average positive impact. Whereas most of these research findings were based on health settings, it cannot be disputed that such effects could affect employees in any other workplace environments such as bank work place. The question is whether the same case would apply for banking environment.
Relationship between Productivity and light
There are various studies that have revealed that increase in the light quality has an impact on productivity of the employees. Benedetti, Barbini&Smeraldi (2001), established that workers in an office with a direct view of the surrounding vegetations exhibited improved productivity. Accessing the views of the surrounding through the window does not only increase productivity but curbs workplace monotony and increases alertness, as well.
Cordiner& Graves (1996) points out that integrating workplaces with day light checks on absenteeism. A company that moves its employees to buildings integrated with day light could reduce work absenteeism by as significantly as 17 percent. It cannot be disputed that such perimeters could still affect the effectiveness of workers in the banking environment, as well as check on the stress levels among the employees.
There have been various views about windowless environments. The positive impacts of windowless environments included improved air circulation and cooling efficiency, increased natural light penetration and feelings of freedom. According to Cordiner& Graves, (1996), despite the fact that most employees disliked windowless environment, there were no physical health problems that were associated with such environments.
Prevalence incidence of arm, wrist, and hand difficulties
The symptoms and disorders of arms, hands, and wrists have been on the increase in employees working in supermarkets, forest, and podiatrists. This case is not prevalent among police and army officers (Nahit, 2003). In addition, those people working in car assembly had high chances of getting these complications compared to those working as designers (Beauchemin& Hay (1996). The designers had reduced risks because they stretch the hand muscles while designing. This stretching leads to a balanced muscle function in the arm, wrist, and hand. People working in industries were highly exposed to these disorders. The people involved in industrial jobs stretch the muscles of the arm and wrist when performing their duties; hence the chances of these disorders were high. To those employees working in supermarkets, the risks of the disorders were high because most work involved extraneous use of hands, wrist, and arms. The repetitive work of supermarket cashiers involving the arms and hands led to increased risks of elbow tendinitis. This reduces the work rate of the arms, wrists, and hands (Beauchemin& Hay, 1996).
According to Bernard, the posture of the hand in the working environment had an impact in determining the rate of arm and wrist disorders. The computer users were highly vulnerable to arms, wrists, and hand disorders. The study of these disorders was done by use of observations and posture measurements to wrist angle positions. However, this study revealed that the risks of hand and arm conditions are caused by the deviation of ulnar in the wrist. Moreover, using the computer while the keyboard is placed in a position further away from the operator reduced risks to arm and hands are low. This is because the hand and wrist posture are balanced and the elbow muscles do not strain. The mouse position is easy to control and does not require more combined energy of the arm, hand, and wrist. In contrast to this, if the key board is placed closer to the table edge, then high risks of hands, arms, and wrist disorders are high. In this case, the elbow angle is reduced hence muscles are affected since the mouse and keyboard are closer. The control of the mouse and keyboard is strenuous because it involves several muscle actions within the hand, wrist, and arm. In addition, the relationship between the arm and the hand was attributed to long hours of working with the keyboard. The muscles in the arms, hands, and wrist are overworked, leading to the disorders. According to Sloane et al (1997), the manual workers were mostly affected by the Radial Tunnel Syndrome because they involve more of hands and arms in their wo Read More
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