One of the questions that most people have is what an acceptable temperature for office environment is. According to conventional wisdom, it is crucial to set the right office temperature for productivity. The fact is that a difference of even a few degrees makes a huge difference. It can affect worker productivity significantly.
The fact is that it is not an easy job to determine the ideal office temperature for productivity. There is a lot that needs to be considered before you can decide the appropriate temperature for your business. Also, you have to keep in mind that every office building is different. This is why the answer to the question is not as straightforward as you think.
If you ask your employees about the temperature you should set the thermostat to, chances are that everyone would have a different opinion. This is why it would not make sense to simply rely on their opinions. To avoid office thermostat wars and ensure mindfulness, you need to read our post. It takes a close look at office temperature productivity. So, what are you waiting for? Let's dive right in.
How Does Office Temperature Affect Productivity?
Although productivity is affected by a number of factors, the temperature should not be overlooked. It is vital that you provide a comfortable work environment where people can get work done. As research reveals that a rise in temperature affects productivity levels adversely, you will have to focus on office temperature productivity. Both your male and female employees would become less productive if the temperature exceeds 90 F. Similarly, if the temperature decreases past comfort levels, people would start to shiver and would use their energy to maintain their body temperature. This would make it difficult for them to focus on their work. Hence, you must ensure that the office temperature does not fall below 60 F.
There is no denying that the office temperature affects the productivity of the workforce. If the temperature is outside the norm, the output would suffer. It is due to this reason that the building should neither be too cold nor too hot. Higher temperatures are never beneficial as your employees would require more naps. Besides, feeling sleepy would prevent your workforce from getting things done. Similarly, low temperatures would increase errors and slow work rates. Since lost productivity is not something that should be taken lightly, you have to ensure that the temperature is perfect.
A study conducted by Cornell University showed that even if the ideal office temperature was maintained, an error rate of 10% was found when people used computer keyboards in a setting where the temperature was 77 F. But, the error rate increased to 25% when the temperature fell to 68 F. Another study by the University of Chicago on temperature and productivity revealed that output value dropped by as much as 3% for each degree above the average temperature. You need to understand that there is also the cost of wasted energy if you increase or decrease the temperature past the ideal level.
The Best Temperature for Your Office
Now that you have a better idea about how temperature affects productivity, it is important that you know the most acceptable temperature for office environment. Even though the standard advice for an average office temperature has been around 70 to 73 F, it only applies to a male workforce. Only if you employ men who wear sports coats or suits to the office should you consider the standard guidelines. However, there are more women in the workplace than ever before. Therefore, you have to consider their requirements as well. Achieving the right office temperature is not an easy task. You have to understand those different areas would have different cooling and heating requirements.
Parts of the office would get direct sunlight and require more air conditioning during summer. On the other hand, offices that are on the ground floor near the loading docks or doors would require more heating during the winter.
Women and Office Temperature
Research conducted in 2015 shows that women's body chemistry is different from that of men and it should be considered to set the right temperature at the office. It is especially important during the summer when the air conditioners are likely to run throughout the day. Generally, women tend to have a much lower metabolic rate in comparison to men. On the other hand, they have more body fat. What this means is that women are more susceptible to cold, unlike men. Therefore, you would have to adjust the temperature in the office if there are a lot of women.
Despite the fact that research recommends the minimum acceptable temperature to be 71.5 F, you would have to take into account how many women there are. In addition to this, you also have to consider how the building has been designed. If there are large windows that allow sunlight to enter, the room would be much warmer. Similarly, high ceilings would affect air distribution. This means that the air conditioners or heaters would have to work a lot harder. To ensure the ideal office temperature for productivity, you have to keep the people who work for you and the building in mind.
Other Factors That Affect Temperature Perception
There are other factors that you should also consider as mentioned below.
- A Person's Weight: As discussed earlier, the BMI (Body Mass Index) of a person affects how they react to temperature. People who weigh more are likely to feel warm quickly. On the other hand, people who have a low BMI are likely to feel cold easily.
- Humidity: The way we perceive temperature is also influenced by humidity. When the air is very humid, people would struggle to sweat which would cause heat exhaustion. In order to ensure optimal year-round comfort, a humidity level of 40% is optimal. Even though high humidity might feel rather oppressive, lower humidity would prove to be more problematic as it would make the air feel a lot colder than it actually is. In fact, low humidity can cause nasal passages, throat, and skin to feel uncomfortably dry.
- Age: As people age and reach 55, they tend to be affected by the cold more easily. This is why you would need to stick to a warmer office temperature if you have an older workforce.
Are Employers Required To Maintain the Temperature At Their Office?
As a business owner, you have to follow the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) guidelines. It is important that you consider the guidelines besides just looking at the productivity and comfort of your employees and managing cooling and heating costs. According to OSHA, the ideal office temperature is around 68 to 76 F. As for the humidity levels, they should be anywhere in the range of 20% to 60%. However, the recommendations are not legally binding and are only there for guidance.
What Temperature Is Unsafe?
Instead of dictating specific temperatures, businesses have been mandated by OSHA to take relief measures to ensure the body temperature of employees is properly maintained. The main objective is to ensure that every employee has a safe body temperature.
If your workers feel too hot, they would sweat profusely and would be at risk of a stroke. Employers must ensure that the body temperature of their workers does not exceed 100 F. On the other hand, employees should not be exposed to cold temperatures either.
How You Can Monitor and Control the Temperature At Your Office?
Monitoring and controlling the temperature at your workplace is something that you cannot afford to ignore. Whether you want to keep your office cool during the summer or ensure that nobody freezes during the winter, the following tips will help you maintain the right office temperature for productivity.
- Get Everyone Involved: The first thing that you need to do is conduct a survey to find out what temperature each employee finds comfortable. Try to find a compromise and encourage everyone to respect it.
- Get a Smart Thermostat: Next, you should take advantage of the latest technology by buying a smart thermostat. Since the temperature changes throughout the day, it would sense the environment and make necessary adjustments to the air conditioning or heating. Therefore, you would be able to provide maximum comfort to your employees.
- Conduct Routine Maintenance: It is also a good idea to invest in routine maintenance. A maintained system would be able to run efficiently. This would ensure that the office temperature is regulated.
- Encourage Personal Responses: Your employees should be allowed to bring a personal fan or sweater along to customize their environment to suit their needs.
Once you have finished reading our post, you will be able to keep your employees happy and productive at the same time. Always remember that a bit of effort would go a long way. It would allow you to take your business to the next level. Besides, the last thing you want is for your employees to argue over the thermostat setting.