A Cold Office Is an Unproductive Office

I now don’t feel so weird about bringing a space heater to the office and keeping said office warm (boldface mine):

Central air hasn’t made us comfortable, so much as made us uncomfortable in a different way.

The experience isn’t simply unpleasant. It comes with a real financial cost.

To find out just how much, Cornell University researchers conducted a study that involved tinkering with the thermostat of an insurance office. When temperatures were low (68 degrees, to be precise), employees committed 44% more errors and were less than half as productive as when temperatures were warm (a cozy 77 degrees).

Cold employees weren’t just uncomfortable, they were distracted. The drop in performance was costing employers 10% more per hour, per employee. Which makes sense. When our body’s temperature drops, we expend energy keeping ourselves warm, making less energy available for concentration, inspiration, and insight.

Pretty much mirrors my experience. I find that when I have sit in a cold office for an extended period of time, I get really tired.

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6 Responses to A Cold Office Is an Unproductive Office

  1. dr2chase says:

    77? I might be wearing shorts. Not sure what that does for other people’s productivity.

    • evilDoug says:

      Knock ten degrees off of that and you get to the temperature I like.
      I can see finding that (77 funny degrees) comfortable if that is what you have been accustomed to for a long time. I’m accustomed to much lower temperature, and would find 77 uncomfortably hot and very much counter to productivity. I’d be doing a Homer Simpson and sitting around in my underwear.
      If someone “tinkered” with my thermostat, I’d be doing another Homer thing – the strangly one.
      Temp’s going down to -9°C tonight, so I guess I better close my bedroom window.

  2. Bayesian Bouffant, FCD says:

    This is why tropical countries have led the way in science and technology.

  3. 61bradford says:

    At least now I understand why my office is always so much warmer than the rest of the building.

  4. george.w says:

    At 77 I am suffering. The person in the cubicle next to mine always runs a space heater and suffers below about 75.

    A better lesson here might be to somehow design the workspace so that people can set their own comfortable temperatures. How that might be done, I don’t know. Some kind of configurable ventilation system or something? I remember reading about a building designed that way once.

  5. Newcastle says:

    I share my “office” with a pair of -80 freezers, a -30 freezer, a +4 refrigerator, a cryostat, several refrigerated centrifuges, a variety of +37 incubators, several pcr machines, plate readers, specs, Affy workstations and a dozen computers.

    A space heater, what an odd concept…

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