Workplace Culture

Fight Over Office Thermostat Reaches a Fever Pitch

Of all the things that will send a chill through a workplace, setting the office thermostat has employees either hot under the collar or giving one another the cold shoulder. Based on a new survey, setting and re-setting the temperature isn’t just a workplace nuisance. It’s also affecting productivity.

CareerBuilder’s office temperature survey reveals that of the 1,012 full-time employees polled in the private sector, 46 percent said their workplace is either too hot or too cold. CareerBuilder does weekly surveys on a variety of workplace-related topics, and the feedback pertaining to this particular issue stood out, said Ladan Nikravan Hayes, corporate communications manager at CareerBuilder.

The feeling of being too hot or cold at the office makes people feel uncomfortable and in turn affects how productive they are. The survey conducted by Harris Poll for CareerBuilder shows that 51 percent of employees say the cold affects their productivity and 67 percent say being too hot does the same.

“People aren’t performing at their best, that’s something we can infer,” said Hayes. “Because they’re either too hot or too cold.”

Survey results reveal that workers are getting to the point of arguing over the temperature and some even secretly change it. Some 15 percent of employees said they’ve argued with coworkers over the temperature and 19 percent have secretly changed it in the summer — 13 percent to make it cooler and 6 percent to make it warmer. But still, why is it getting to the point of arguing?

“We’re in a workplace culture where people are closer to each other. People joke about having work wives or work husbands. And just like you would voice your opinion to your roommate or your friends or your family, people feel comfortable doing that at work,” said Hayes. “And because it is affecting their work and their performance, they feel justified to do that.”

However, there are ways to solve this issue. Employers can offer a more relaxed dress code so people can wear what is comfortable to them, yet still look professional — for example a polo shirt for men instead of a suit. Providing facilities such as cold water dispensers and warm drinks and encouraging outdoor breaks since “so often the temperature outside is perfect,” according to Hayes.

“You’re not necessarily doing a broad blanket solution, but you’re giving options to people who don’t feel comfortable with the temperature at the office,” said Hayes.

Individuals can also control some of the aspects in their workplace so they can feel more comfortable. Changing up your location if the space is too hot or too cold at a particular time during the day, telecommuting or moving to a conference room for a portion of the day, and using a personal fan or heated blanket are some ways to combat the warmer or cooler weather, according to Hayes.

“There isn’t an easy solution in sight, [but] there are things that you can do to help yourself,” said Hayes.

Aysha Ashley Househ is a Workforce editorial associate. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com.

Filed under: Workplace Culture