The dog days of summer are ending and with them, the discomfort of walking off a 90° street and into a frigid, air-conditioned office. The early days of fall are beginning and with them, the opposite discomfort of walking through the chilly outdoors and possibly into an overheated building, into a cozy heat that lulls you to sleep rather than to work.
The question that has plagued offices from Alabama to Austria is universal - how to agree on a temperature that fits everyone?
Why is it so important? Temperature can affect everything from productivity to happiness. So coworking spaces and offices alike should strive to meet their workers’ needs as much as possible.
According to the “Energy Consumption in buildings and female thermal demand” 2015 study, “Indoor climate regulations are based on an empirical thermal comfort model that was developed in the 1960s”. The metabolic rate used was based on the average male. That’s why you may see female workers huddled under sweaters and scarves even in August. The study suggests that offices should measure using a more accurate metabolic rate, focusing on its employees.
The BBC reported that “around 2% of office hours in the UK are wasted by battles for climate control, costing the economy more than £13 billion each year”. On the other side of the world, heat in Australia reduces productivity so much that the country loses $6.2 billion a year.
So it is more important than ever to find the perfect office temperature. The inconvenient truth may be that there is no such thing. People will always disagree. But there are a few things you can consider when tailoring your office temperature.
Do you want better creative thinking or productivity? A 1996 study found that higher temperatures foster creative thinking, whereas another study discovered that lower temperatures keep people alert and wide awake even during tedious and repetitive tasks. Which kind of work are your employees doing?
Do you have more women or men? Have your workers or coworkers fill out a survey listing gender and temperature preference. Generally, women prefer a 75° room while men prefer 70°. Though you can’t please everyone, you can get a little closer to pleasing a majority.
Are you trying to make your office green? Then consider turning off the air more. Energy consumption in both residential buildings and offices contributes 30% of total carbon dioxide emissions, according to the 2015 study.
Spending time in a range of temperatures can also be good for you, so consider changing up the office temperature now and then, both for health and compromise.