Office temperature has always been a source of conflict between employees and office management. There is a fine line between efficient thermostat management and making your employees not only uncomfortable, but unable to work productively. It’s important to optimise your office temperature this winter to get the most out of your business and staff.
There is a narrow range of temperature that works for everyone, especially considering that some people run hot and some get cold very easily. Under-correct, and your employees are too hot or too cold. Over-correct and you will wind up paying for it in your energy bills.
You may also face the challenge of architecture: Not every room heats or cools the same, especially in the winter. Areas close to outside doors tend to drop several degrees as cool drafts are let inside. Whereas, areas close to the heaters may overheat as the thermostats try to keep cold rooms warm. Take a look at these tips to help you fine-tune your office temperature for both energy efficiency and employee comfort.
Put a thermometer in every room
First, to know how to fine-tune your office temperature, you must first know what you’re working with. You need to know which rooms are several degrees colder or warmer than others. There may be cold drafts, closed vents, and problems easily solved by closing or opening a few doors. However, you won’t know until you measure the temperature of each room.
Place a small thermostat in each room to discover its temperature. Small thermostats are very cheap and can be used to build your heating plans and verify employee reports of temperature irregularity.
Get some thermal curtains
In the winter, your biggest enemy (and most profound waste of electricity) is cold drafts. This is particularly the case in buildings with expansive windows. Large windows transfer cold and rooms with these windows will need a lot more heat to stay warm. Even with this extra heat, it is likely the area around the windows will be several degrees colder than the rest of the room.
The answer to this conundrum of cold is thermal curtains. Stop the transference of cold at the glass itself. Employees seated near the windows won’t freeze and your heater won’t have to work overtime to constantly compensate for these cold spots.
Close vents in unused areas
Many office buildings waste energy by heating areas that don’t need to be heated. If there are rooms and sections of the building that are not in use, close the vents and block the doors. There’s no need to heat them up if there are no people or equipment that need to be kept warm. Just be certain that you’re not neglecting areas that are regularly used. Check with employees and consider once or twice daily use before closing a vent. You don’t want to accidentally freeze an employee or an area that is needed more often than you realise. Employee feedback is key in any business heating strategy.
Your greatest tool for controlling office temperature is airflow. In some places, you need air to flow from the warm vents to the cold areas. In others, you want to prevent cold air from entering through closing doors. Space around the doors can allow cold drafts that could accidentally freeze your employees.
Weather stripping is very important both for external doors and for airlock doors which block open areas from the internal offices. Draft stoppers, which block the area just under a door, can also help to control airflow for internal doors.
Selective use of space heaters
Many offices are wary about letting employees use space heaters freely. However, a blanket ban against space heaters may not be the right answer. Sometimes, a space heater is exactly what you need to keep employees in a cold area of the building comfortable without overtaxing your HVAC system or overheating anyone else.
Create a request process for space heaters and consider providing space heaters in the areas that your thermometers indicate are regularly too cold.
Strategic employee seating
One thing that many employers fail to consider is body temperature. Some people, for example, run hot and overheat easily if sat next to a heater, for others the opposite is true. One way to optimise your office temperature is to move your team around based on where they will be most comfortable. Place employees who complain of being too hot in the coldest section of the office and colder employees nearest the heaters. Let the building’s natural temperature variation work for you instead of against you.
Relaxed winter dress code
Finally, relax your dress code. Business formal and business casual both tend to limit an employee’s ability to adjust their wardrobe to suit their temperature needs. During the winter, be more lenient about allowing for jumpers, scarves, warm shoes, and layers that can be worn during the day. This will allow your employees to make themselves a little more comfortable even if you keep the office cooler in the winter for energy efficiency reasons.
Optimising your office temperature by fine-tuning room-to-room comfort is the best way to keep both your employees productive and save money on your energy bills.