Regulating A/C in the Office: Is Your Temperature Fair for Everyone?

Fair Office A/C Temperatures for All

With summer in full swing, many employees can’t wait to escape the hot, humid weather and enjoy some nice, cool air conditioning. However, every employee has different temperature preferences and can be naturally warmer or cooler than others in the office.

Not only do office temperature preferences vary between genders, but they’re also influenced by the age, race, health, and weight of your employees. Consistently being too hot or too cold also has a way of making employees cranky and reducing overall productivity in significant ways.

Temperature and Gender Differences

There’s a stereotype that men are more hot-blooded and women are more cold-blooded, but the situation isn’t always that black and white. Women often have a larger ratio of body surface to body mass and greater subcutaneous fat content, which makes their bodies stay cooler. However, women taking oral contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy, or going through menopause are likely to be just as warm or warmer than men in the office.

Body temperature also varies with levels of physical activity, illness, and certain medications that employees may be taking. One study found body temperature varies with race the most in older women, and that black women’s body temperature averages 0.13 degrees Celsius higher than that of white women. So while gender is often a concern when discussing office temperature regulation, it’s certainly not the only factor.

Office Temperature & Employee Productivity

Whether too hot or too cold, studies have shown that the temperature of your office has a profound impact on productivity in the workplace. One Cornell University study found that an office temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit resulted in 44% more employee errors and that employees were less than half as productive as when the office was 77 degrees (meaning even more errors were committed).

There’s a good reason for this because our bodies waste valuable energy needed for concentration on staying warm when the temperature drops. However, when office temperatures are too warm and cozy, employees tend to get too comfortable, even to the point of drifting off to sleep.

Maintaining a Comfortable and Fair Office Environment

Keeping all of your employees happy with the office temperature is virtually impossible, and some people’s bodies are simply more tolerant than others. Fortunately, there are some fair and energy-efficient ways to help all of your employees stay comfortable in the office environment during the summer.

Here are some temperature regulation tips to consider if you’re dealing with a feuding workplace you’re your employees just can’t seem to agree on the thermostat number.

  • Encourage employees to dress in layers and leave an extra sweater in the office
  • Let natural light in office windows during the day to balance out powerful A/C
  • Make warm beverages (tea and coffee) and cold beverages (water and juice) available to employees at no cost
  • Provide personal-size desk fans to employees who consistently complain of being overheated in the office
  • Turn off unused electronics to cut down on excess heat and conserve energy
  • Don’t make unfair assumptions about office temperature strictly based on gender

What temperature is your office thermostat set at, and how comfortable do you feel in your office environment?

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