Has your unofficial office uniform suddenly become a snuggie? You know, an oversized body blanket with sleeves (and sometimes feet) that people wear when they’re too cold, even in the summer time.
While they might be ultra-comfortable, they’re probably not the type of clothing that projects the office image you’re going for. The reality is that winning the temperature war in the office is a mix of art and science, some fact, and some fiction.
Do Women Really Prefer Warmer Temperatures than Men Do?
First, we don’t want to make generalizations, because this varies a lot from person to person. However, there is plenty of research out there to suggest that there are at least four degrees of separation between men and women – degrees Fahrenheit, that is. Men like their office temperature at 72 degrees, on average, while women say they function best with the office thermostat set at 77 or 78 degrees.
Some researchers think this is related to the fact that the average male is larger than the average female, and therefore conserves more heat, and that metabolic rates differ between genders. On the opposite end of the spectrum, one can also find research showing that gender has nothing to do with office temperature preference and that it’s all just a state of mind.
But try telling that to your building manager. Recognizing that men want a colder office temperature is the first step in finding a happy medium.
Do Cold Office Temperatures Boost Productivity?
Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame keeps his office temperature set at a crisp 59 degrees. He believes that a colder office helps him to stay focused. But then Mark is a man.
Temperatures do have a significant impact on office productivity, but in the opposite direction. A recent Cornell University study notes that employee mistakes increase by almost 50% when the thermostat is turned down too low.
However, turning the thermostat all the way up can also backfire.
While an office temperature setting of 77 degrees vs. 72 degrees can reduce air conditioning energy consumption by about 18%, people will still complain. Except this time, it will be men and women equally. A survey from CareerBuilder finds that, while over 50% of all office workers think their workplace is too cold, nearly 70% believe their warm office is keeping them from being productive. Maybe this simply means that at least 20% of the people complain 100% of the time!
How to Hack the Perfect Office Temperature
Too cold, too warm, but never just perfect. While there may not be such a thing as a 100% perfect office temperature for your entire staff, there are some things you can do to make everyone feel that there is.
Dividing your office space into thermal zones can be a good first step. By utilizing a smartphone app such as Comfy, individual staff can send a 10-minute stream of hot or cold air to their work area. This smart office space management also makes it easy to track people who get too hot or too cold, and then to group staff together with similar workplace temperature preferences.
View Dynamic Glass is another energy-efficient, intelligent building technology. Using a smartphone app, staff can control the tint of windows to vary the amount of natural light that comes through. Heat and glare can be minimized, while the outside view doesn’t change.
More Office Temperature Control Tips & Tricks
So far, we’ve discussed how building and office mangers can control temperature in the workplace to keep staff happy. Now let’s look at some simple things that office workers can do to control their individual workspace climate.
- Personal workspace fans and heaters can give staff total control over their office temperature if an office space layout doesn’t allow for smart technology and thermal zones,
- Warm or cold beverages help to raise or lower body temperature without getting the entire office involved,
- Staying hydrated by drinking water or other beverages throughout the day is another great way to regulate body temperature. That’s one reason why so many coworking office spaces offer coffee bars and lounge areas,
- Fingerless gloves are a good option for IT office workers who have to work in colder office environments. They keep fingers free for typing and data entry and are stylish enough to avoid being a snuggie-class fashion faux pas,
- Wearing headphones in the office not only send coworkers a message that you’re in the zone and don’t want to be disturbed – they’re also a great way to cover the ears and stay warm, just like hats and earmuffs do in the dead of winter.
- Opening or closing blinds, windows, or curtains is another simple solution to control office temperature. When open, they allow the natural sunlight to come in and warm things up in the office. If it’s too cold outside, and cloud-cover is blocking the sun, closing the blinds or drawing the curtains adds an extra layer of insulation to the windows in the office.