A recent study is bringing a long accepted workplace standard into the limelight: cold offices. The results show that, besides the increasing cooling bills and adverse environmental effects, cold offices can reduce productivity, especially for women.
According to the New York Times article, "Chilly at Work? Office formula was devised for men", the optimal office temperature is calculated using a complex formula that takes into consideration things like air temperature, vapor pressure and clothing insulation. But, it was designed in the 1960s for men with an average age of 40, weighing 154 pounds.
In this day and age, where offices are combining technology and design to create optimal spaces that increase collaboration and productivity, accounting for temperature should not be ignored.
Temperature can have a huge effect on productivity whether it's too cold or too hot. However, employees proposing changes to central cooling and heating systems can face steep uphill battles, especially if your company shares an office building.
Here are 3 ways to combat this issue in the short term:
1. Promote flexible work
Give employees more freedom to work where they feel most comfortable. If someone is feeling particularly cold on a given day, they should be empowered to do something about it and find a different, more productive place to work.
2. Design different workspaces
Open office floor plans can create cooler spaces because there is less insulation - no walls or cloth cubicles that retain heat. But, offices can create new workspaces that have that same effect. The collaboration area could have couches and carpet. The meeting room could have textured walls.
3. Use technology to understand and optimize the office
Technology, like our occupancy sensor, can help you understand the different needs in your office. Analyzing data from heat and motion sensors will help you determine people's workspace preferences and ultimately help you make better decisions.
While scientists figure out a new optimal temperature for offices in the modern age, implement these solutions in the short term that will not only help increase productivity and collaboration but can save you money.