With the summer months approaching, it’s time to brace yourself for the age-old battle over the office thermostat. Here’s a guide to help you choose the ideal office temperature for productivity and comfort.
A comfortable employee is a happy employee, but just how comfortable are yours?
Take a look around your office. Are people holed up with sweaters and jackets on, even though it’s the summertime? Or, have they turned those conference memos into makeshift fans to cool themselves off?
The truth is, finding the ideal office temperature might not be as simple as you think. Science shows that our bodies all process temperature differently. Need convincing? Ask any squabbling couple who can’t agree on where to set the thermostat, and you’ll find that what feels warm to one person can be downright icy to the next.
Still, to ensure productivity doesn’t wane, it’s important to keep your teams as content as possible, and that includes optimizing their work environment. Today, let’s take a look at a few simple ways you can help find that ideal temperature that pleases (just about) everyone.
Ready to get started? Let’s go!
1. Know Which Office Temperature Optimizes Productivity
A recent study reveals that during the summertime, employee productivity drops as much as 20%. The research also found that during these hot months, workplace attendance drops 19%, it takes teams 13% longer to complete projects, and worker distraction jumps 45%.
What’s a well-meaning manager to do? Let everyone take an extended summer vacation and then pick back up again in the fall?
While your employees may love that idea, there is an alternate route you can take.
Experiments reveal that to boost productivity, the ideal temperature to set your office AC at is between 70 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, or 21-22 degrees Celsius. Any time you inch above that number, employee performance automatically drops. In fact, if you get as high as 86 degrees Fahrenheit or above, you’re only working at 90% capacity.
Take a look at what your system is set at. How far off are you? Before you go moving that dial, let’s read on. It’s important to check with your employees before making any sudden adjustments.
2. Ask Your Employees for Feedback
One way to ensure your employees stay comfortable at work is to simply ask them which changes they’d prefer. If you normally keep your office relatively cool, don’t be surprised if you receive the most feedback from your female employees.
Why? Studies show that the temperature in most office buildings is set based on a formula that revolves around the metabolic rates of men. Those outspoken about gender bias in the workplace are pushing back against the outdated, decades-old system that might help explain why offices are so cold.
Conduct an electronic survey wherein employees can remain anonymous in their responses. Then, gauge the replies to determine how far you should adjust your current temperature. If you need to follow up with an individual concerning his or her preferences, do so in a discreet manner that reduces alienation.
In your survey, be sure to ask a range of questions to get a clear understanding of your employees’ preferences. For instance, don’t just ask what their ideal temperature would be. Also inquire on how they currently feel at work, if they have any complaints, or if they’re disagreeing with office mates over the issue.
3. Consider the Environmental Benefits of Adjustment
While you don’t want to bump up your AC too much and leave your workers unmotivated and sluggish, if you’re currently blasting a galactical breeze in every room, consider how much power you’re using every day.
If you adjust your dial just one degree, you could not only lower your next electric bill, but you’d also be doing your part to help combat global warming and reduce your carbon footprint.
In the summertime, this means making it one degree warmer, with the ideal range being between 71-72 degrees Fahrenheit. In the wintertime, you may consider going one degree cooler to reduce the strain on your machines, aiming for around 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remember, any time you leave the office or are away for the weekend, adjust the temperature a few degrees as well. No one will be around to feel the difference, but you’ll appreciate the savings you receive. A smart thermostat that can monitor the activity in your rooms and adjust itself accordingly can be incredibly helpful in this regard.
4. Try a High-Tech Approach
The old adage reigns true: You can’t please everyone, no matter how hard you try. Even if you conduct your research and weigh your options, you’ll never be able to set the office thermostat at a temperature that everyone agrees with.
The good news? There are plenty of tech-savvy apps that employees can download to help them get as comfortable as possible. If yours are working with company-issued phones, you can sanction these downloads as workplace-approved, or encourage them to put the apps on their personal devices.
For instance, using a new app called Comfy, employees can send tailored blasts of air to their location to help regulate their temperature. They can either say “Cool My Space,” “Warm My Space,” or “I’m Comfy.”
That means if Joe from Engineering is feeling a little warm, he can actually send chilly air to his office. Or, if Sarah from Proposals needs a little bit of warmth, she can do the same. The blasts last around 10 minutes, which is just enough time to help change the surrounding air.
Another app, called CrowdComfort, allows employees to send temperature complaints to the building manager via their smartphone. This particular app is also a useful way for employees to report any safety issues or other building concerns that may arise.
If you’d rather your employees come to you directly to discuss their concerns, try holding a quick meeting to get everyone on board. Remind them that you’re open to suggestions and are willing to meet with anyone who’d like to talk about temperature changes.
5. Make Sure Your HVAC System is Up to Speed
Has it suddenly turned warm and humid in the middle of summer, even though your thermostat was set to a comfortable 71 degrees? Or, are your employees leaving on their toboggans and heavy jackets during the winter? If so, your HVAC might need repair or a simple turn-up.
It’s a good idea to keep your systems regularly maintained throughout the year to avoid any major snafus or shutdowns. Keep a trusted repair team on speed dial to make sure that in the event an issue does occur, it’s quickly fixed. You can click here to learn more about the services that these teams can deliver.
The last thing you want is to shell out a ton of money to completely replace your system. By staying up-to-date on your repair schedule, you’ll ensure your HVAC equipment is in great working condition all year round.
6. Enable Employees to Move
Some areas in your office might be warmer or cooler than others. Anyone who has ever wandered from their ice-cold office into the warmer conference room or coffee area knows this.
If you have employees who still aren’t comfortable, even after you’ve made a few thermostat adjustments, consider letting them move to a different part of the building that better meets their needs. Or, they can rearrange their office design to work in a different spot away from or closer to an air vent.
Enabling this flexibility can go a long way toward improving employee morale. According to a recent study, 27% of workers think their office is too hot, while 19% believe it’s too cold. Only 54% were content with their current environment.
If your teams are huffing under their breath or complaining to their co-workers about their comfort level, it’s only a matter of time before their dissatisfaction shows up in their performance.
Remediate the situation when you can and allow them to switch spots if they think they’d work better that way. Yet, keep in mind that allowing too much flexibility can become a recipe for disaster. Someone can move down the hall, sure, but telecommuting simply because the office is too cold isn’t a viable solution.
Business Advice You Can Trust
Owning a business is tough work. This is especially true for small business owners, who often wear many hats, from CEO to marketing manager, janitor, customer support contact and more.
Yet, behind every successful small business is a team of driven professionals dedicated to doing their best. Maintaining an ideal office temperature is a great way to encourage employee morale, improve productivity and reduce complaints. Keeping these tips in mind, you can help create an office environment that your teams actually want to work in every day.
For more tips on how to grow your small business, check out our blog. We have the real-world advice you need to succeed!