When it comes to office environments, the term “thermal comfort” is beginning to be heard more and more often. Common sense suggests that the ideal office temperature contributes greatly to the level of productivity. Even a few degrees difference can have a serious impact on the performance and focus of you and your colleagues. Of course, temperature is not everything – for example, lighting, chairs and your workstation also have an impact, but temperature remains one of the most important factors.
Over the years, much research has focused on finding the optimal degrees to increase – or maintain – productivity. For decades, the general consensus was that 21-22 degrees was the best option for workplaces. A 2006 study found that optimal results were achieved at 22 degrees. At 30 degrees, it reported a drop in working capacity of nearly 9 percent. On the other hand, in recent years there has been a growing perception that older research is based on occupational sites inhabited mainly by male workers and should therefore be accepted with reasonable skepticism. But why would that matter?
Women and the problem of the cold
If you work or have worked in an office, you have inevitably encountered situations related to the temperature in the room. Most women do not tolerate low temperatures very well, and although this fact is viewed with condescension by their colleagues, there is a very reasonable explanation for it. A 2005 study found that differences in women’s metabolism, overall structure and weight made them much more sensitive to low temperatures and more susceptible to colds. Their lower weight implies slower heating, as well as faster cooling when the temperature drops. In poorly heated rooms in winter, women often suffer from cold limbs, which further complicates the work process.
Thus, when spring comes a little earlier and the office does not have air conditioning for heating at low temperatures, but with heating and it is already stopped, there is often a sharp increase in sick leave. The same is true in cases where the window opens on a not very hot day and there are employees who suffer from lower temperatures.
More influencing factors
In addition to the above-described situation with the fairer sex, there are other factors that must be taken into account when heating a workplace. One of them is age – people over 50 are also hypersensitive to very low temperatures. An American company, which employs mostly people between the ages of 45 and 60, reported a dramatic increase in efficiency after management decided to install central air conditioning, which led to an increase in the average office temperature by 3-4 degrees.
Humidity (that is, how much water vapor it contains) also plays a role in how we feel the temperature. High relative humidity affects both the buildings themselves and directly on the human body. Humidity above 60% is also thought to lead to increased air pollution, among other problems. Experts consider the range between 35% and 50% relative humidity as the optimal option.
The solution – a moderate and comfortable temperature for everyone
In the circumstances thus described, what is the solution? Many companies in the West have asked themselves this question and come to the conclusion that in order to adequately solve these problematic situations, they need to differentiate a specific temperature range in the office and require its maintenance to stimulate productivity and address the problems mentioned above. It seems that more and more often the company’s policy is reoriented from simply maintaining the standards required by law to offering its employees the optimal working environment. In this way he actively contributes – albeit indirectly – to the development of the company itself. Some companies install central air conditioning systems, others prefer inverter air conditioners, split or multi-split systems in each room, but in general the trend is the same – to provide maximum comfort for all with control of temperature and humidity through heating with air conditioning .