How temperature affects productivity in the workplace

Too hot? Too cold? Somewhere in between? Temperature is one of the most hotly contested topics in the workplace with some finding it impossible to work in the heat and others unable to move in the cold. So how does temperature affect productivity and what is the optimum working temperature?

The ideal Temperature

Naturally, if you find yourself too hot then you’ll probably struggle to concentrate but the same also goes for being too cold. In the UK there is a minimum requirement that the workplace never drop below 16 degrees, but as for a maximum temperature there is currently no requirement other than that it is ‘reasonable’.

Of course, 16 degrees would be pretty chilly considering you’ll be there for some time, but what is the ideal working temperature?

Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory collected productivity readings and temperature recordings from 24 different studies and found that the perfect temperature should be between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius. Which certainly seems higher than what you’d think.

They also found that the exact temperature to maximise creativity and productivity should be 21c, any more or any less will see productivity decrease. Though once the temperature exceeds 25 Celsius the negative effects will be much more pronounced and exacerbate rapidly.

How can you create this climate balance in your office?

As we mentioned earlier, temperature is one of the biggest points of discussion in the office, particularly in Britain where the weather is practically all we talk about.In fact, a 2014 study found that around 2% of office hours in the UK or £13 billion a year, is wasted in the constant bickering for control of the temperature.

Balancing the wants and needs of an entire office can be tricky when it comes to temperature, especially in larger offices, as everyone has a temperature that they are most comfortable with.

A good way to make sure people are feeling the benefit of this temperature is to, first of all, set the thermostat to the aforementioned 21 degrees Celsius. You can also educate people to the benefits of not wearing heavyclothes such as coats and jackets as this will mean that they retain their excess heat, ultimately affecting their ability to work.

By wearing clothes that allow you to breathe more easily, you can feel the actual temperature of the office rather than being hung up with what the heating feels like to you.

Additionally, as many buildings in the UK are built with cold temperatures in mind, due to the fact that this is our most natural climate, these increasingly erratic summer heatwaves can have a huge effect on our workplaces, particularly for those on higher floors.

If you feel that the air con could do with being used a bit more liberally in summer then bear in mind that in the UK there is a legal requirement for employers to assess the situation if more than 10% of employees register a complaint about the heat.

There are a few different ways to tackle being too hot or too cold in the office but if you stay practical and aim for that 21-25 degree sweet spot, you should find that productivity levels never too dip too far.

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