Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Brrr! Thermostat Settings Affect Productivity

There's a casual dining restaurant we used to go to quite often. Emphasis on the "used to," because it was always too damn cold in there. If it's 95 degrees outside and you're wearing a parka while you eat your sandwich, then there's something weird going on.

We'd walk in to this restaurant and immediately get hit with a strong gust of Arctic air that took my breath away. In fact, I was pretty sure I could see my breath sometimes. We brought sweaters to wear, and we'd sit and stare enviously at the people who were lucky to snag an outdoor table.

Even my husband thought the restaurant was too cold, and unlike me, he doesn't have the circulation system of a reptile.

As I shivered and ate, I wondered if the manager had relocated recently from Siberia. I also wondered what it would be like to work there. I didn't think I'd last very long, because the temperature would affect my productivity.

It turns out I'm not alone: In a new CareerBuilder survey of nearly 4,300 workers, one-third say the temperature of their workplace affects their productivity.

54% surveyed think the office temperature is "just right."

27% think it's too hot.

19% think it's too cold.

Another finding: Employees think their employers are turning down the thermostat to save money, which is probably true.

This means many offices will likely be colder this winter. Wear layers, people.

It also means there's no way to win if you're the employer. Some employees will bitch that it's always too hot, while some will complain it's always too cold. Their assessment could change by the hour, depending on the office's HVAC system. Employers may never find a happy medium. Maybe lap blankets are the gift to give employees this year?

I wish the survey had separated the results by gender, because hormonal imbalances, thyroid conditions and other problems make women much more sensitive to temperature changes. I watched my parents wage thermostat warfare for a few years while my mom went through menopause. It wasn't pretty. I'd be rich if I had a dollar for every time my dad said, "Goddamnit! She changed the thermostat again!?" All is fair in love and Fahrenheit, I guess.


  1. The ideal situation, obviously, is like we have where I work. In this building, the temperature swings from freezing to blazing hot at least every other hour. That way, everyone is equally annoyed!

  2. Sounds like a good place to keep a sweatshirt handy...