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Air con wars

by Sellick Partnership | 20 November 2015

There has been a lot written in the press lately about the so called 'air con wars' that are breaking out in offices all over the UK, and I sit back down at my desk after turning the air conditioning off I can relate to a great deal about what is being debated. If you haven't experienced this then you are very lucky, but I expect most people have. Some people in the office are shivering and reaching for extra layers, some are too hot and want the temperature reducing further, whilst others are perfectly comfortable.

Temperature affects people very differently due to a number of factors, including gender, clothing, and metabolic rate. In modern offices, most climate control systems are based on the resting metabolic rate of a 40-year-old man, which runs up to 30 per cent faster than a woman's. Muscle generates heat and generally speaking men have more muscle mass than women, making them warmer.

Research conducted by Dr Boris Kingma concluded that women prefer a warmer temperature of around 25C compared with 22C for men. This argument isn't strictly between men, anyone with a faster metabolic rate will be more comfortable meaning it will be very difficult to agree on one temperature for the office. This can be frustrating and waste a lot of time and energy debating the temperature in the room.

As well as being distracting it can lead to a serious decrease in productivity. Cornell University researchers carried out a study that involved changing the temperature of an insurance office. Temperatures were reduced to 68 degrees and employees committed 44% more errors and were less than half as productive as when temperatures were warm at 77 degrees. Simply put, people are more productive when they are more comfortable.

It is very hard the please the British workforce and there is no easy way to cure the air con wars but the points below may help:

  • Move people that are colder away from the vents
  • Adjust the vents to redirect airflow from team members who are feeling colder
  • Decide a temperature and stick to it
  • Keep additional warm clothing in the office to wear if the temperature is too low for you

Remember, make sure you stay warm and comfortable in the winter months to enusre you continue to work to the best of your ability!