Cold Offices Make for Less Productive Employees

As I walked into work this morning, I was sweating. The infamous Chicago humidity warmed me up and caused my glasses to endlessly slide down the bridge of my nose. Just a couple hours later though, and I’m at my cubicle, and the temperature feels more like an infamous Chicago winter.

A recent Washington Post article, which a fellow freezing employee shared with me, talks about women feeling cold in their offices, while the men say the temperature is fine. The writer, Petula Dvorak, talked with men and women during their lunch hours in Washington, D.C.

The women all complained of being cold, going outside to defrost, and the men all thought their office’s temperatures were fine. The women were mostly dressed for the weather (bare shoulders), but the men were wearing crisp, long-sleeve shirts and suits. The author concluded that men mostly controlled office temperatures, making their office comfortable for them, but unbearable for their female counterparts.

“So there you have it: the gender divide, thermostat edition. All these women who actually dress for the season — linens, sundresses, flowy silk shirts, short-sleeve tops — changing their wardrobes to fit the sweltering temperatures around them. And then there are the men, stalwart in their business armor, manipulating their environment for their own comfort, heaven forbid they make any adjustments in what they wear.”

Now, she has some good points. But, of course, this isn’t true for all offices. My office is cold, but it’s not just the women complaining about the temperature. The men are on board with warming up the office also. They aren’t wearing the suits Dvorak talked about; this office is more of a slacks-and-polo kind of place.

But, let’s move on from the gender argument. Dvorak cites some research that makes me want to have a little chat with my office building’s manager.

Researchers studied office temperatures, finding that when they changed the thermostat from 68 to 77 degrees, typos decreased by 44 percent and productivity rose 150 percent. Those are some compelling numbers, right?

If worker productivity isn’t enough of a reason to change your ways, maybe saving money on your energy bill is. The U.S. Energy Department estimates that a power bill would see a savings of 11 percent when going from 72 to 77 degrees.

So, maybe making the office into a tundra isn’t best. But don’t twist my words — we don’t want a sauna either.