Office conditions leave room for improvement, employment

Forget salaries, expense accounts or keys to the executive washroom. Employee loyalty is won or lost over the cleanliness of the bathrooms and the amount of sticky goo on the carpet.

One in three workers surveyed recently said they had accepted a job — or quit one — because of the most basic working conditions. The respondents' chief complaints by far: the state of the indoor atmosphere, the gripes being about either hot-as-the-tropics heating or Antarctic air conditioning.

Corporate managers searching for new office space think mostly about rent and whether the layout and location will work for their companies, said Johnny Winton, president of Blumberg Capital Partners, which commissioned the survey. "They're not really thinking, 'Will my employees be OK working in this environment?' "

Julie Buckner knows what Winton's talking about. The 40-year-old Los Angeles resident is a veteran of what she dubbed "the office temperature wars."

"I always run hot," she said, recalling how she tricked her co-workers at several local public relations firms by surreptitiously powering up the air conditioner.

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