Late last week, I sat down to start my day and got an instant message from a teammate suffering from a common office problem: she was freezing, shivering at her desk before her day even got started. And she wasn't alone—throughout the day, I heard from several other people about how cold they were and how it was making it hard to get anything done. It's August, prime time for some of the last hot days of the year, so walking into the office dressed for summer weather only to be confronted by the arctic blast of the air conditioning was proving difficult for my colleagues.
Wired tried to tackle the battle of the sexes over the office thermostat, and gender differences aside, one statement in the article summed up the issue and its impact on business: "the right temperature keeps morale up, HVAC costs down, and a building's carbon footprint small."
Recently, our Workplace Index asked workers and decision makers about how office temps impact productivity. 54% of workers said the right temperature could drive an increase in productivity, and the exact same percentage of decision makers agreed. If management and workers agree, you know you've got a real point to consider.
The World Green Building Council dug a little further into how the office environment drives your quality (and quantity) of work, as well, finding that things like natural light and air quality can boost performance, and that temperature discomfort can account for as much as a 6% decrease in productivity.
Are you moving toward the thermostat yet? Not so fast… researchers disagree on the topic of "too warm" versus "too cold" just as much as you disagree with your cubemate who's sleeveless and sweltering while you're shivering in your sweater. Studies have also indicated that heat can impair decision-making, decrease productivity and heighten tempers.
All this conflicting research feels like science is blowing hot and cold on the issue! So what's the solution? Organizations like the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers have standards to follow, and your facility manager probably has a good idea of what he or she considers the "right" temperate. Ultimately, whoever holds the power over the thermostat needs to listen to the office and determine what works best for as many people as possible.