Whether your office resembles a part of the Sahara Desert or an outpost in Siberia, it cannot be argued that one of the most common causes of office disagreements is the office temperature.
For thousands of years, achieving a comfortable temperature in hot climates was an ongoing struggle. Fast forward to 2018 and a cold breeze can be found with the press of a button. And yet, the majority of workers still aren’t content. A 2015 survey of 129 office workers in the US found that 42% of people think their building is too warm, while 56% think it’s too cold.
Temperatures in the indoor workplace are covered by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, which place a legal obligation on employers to provide a ‘reasonable’ temperature in the workplace. The Approved Code of Practice suggests the minimum temperature in a workplace should normally be at least 16 degrees Celsius. If the work involves rigorous physical effort, the temperature should be at least 13 degrees Celsius. These temperatures are not absolute legal requirements; the employer has a duty to determine what reasonable comfort will be in the circumstances.
Failing to keep workers comfortable has serious financial implications too. In all, around 2% of office hours in the UK are wasted by battles for climate control, costing the economy more than £13 billion each year. In Australia, stifling heat cools productivity to the tune of US$6.2 billion.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg swears by the mind-focusing effects of a truly arctic conference room: the thermostat is set to 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit). Meanwhile former US President Barack Obama kept the Oval Office so hot, his adviser joked to the New York Times that “You could grow orchids in there”.
According to a study performed in 2006 by Helsinki University of Technology and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, “performance increases with temperature up to 21-22 degrees Celsius (69.8 to 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit). The highest productivity is at a temperature of around 22 Celsius (71.6 degrees Fahrenheit).”
So if you’re looking to provide a work environment where your employees are simultaneously comfortable, productive, and interconnected, your solution is simple. Head over to the thermostat and set that temperature to your new office standard: around 21-22 degrees Celsius (71.6 degrees Fahrenheit)!