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Is There a Link Between Office Temperature and Worker Productivity?

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  • Originally Written By: L. S. Wynn
  • Revised By: A. Joseph
  • Edited By: L. S. Wynn
  • Last Modified Date: 03 April 2014
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Research has shown that office temperature is likely to influence worker productivity. Within a certain range of temperatures, workers typically are more productive. When an office is too hot or too cold, workers' productivity typically drops. What is considered the ideal office temperature can vary, but it generally is considered to be 70° to 73° Fahrenheit (21.1° to 22.8° Celsius). Some experts, however, believe that an office temperature as high as 77° Fahrenheit (25° Celsius) will result in the greatest productivity.

Test Results

Studies on the effect of office temperature on worker productivity typically measure such things as the workers' output levels, efficiency and accuracy. Research has shown, for example, that workers typing on keyboards usually are more productive and have fewer errors when the office temperature is 77° Fahrenheit (25° Celsius) than when it is 66° Fahrenheit (18.8° Celsius). Many studies suggest that workers are most productive when the office temperature is about 71° or 72° Fahrenheit (21.7° to 22.2° Celsius). Productivity tends to decrease more suddenly as temperatures decrease below 68° Fahrenheit (20° Celsius) and more gradually as temperatures rise past 75° Fahrenheit (23.9° Celsius).

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Effects of Clothing

Some experts believe that the ideal temperature range can vary at different times of the year. One reason is because people typically dress according to the temperature outside, rather than the temperature inside the building where they will be. For example, people usually wear fewer and lighter clothes in the summer and more and heavier clothes in the winter. This can affect how hot or cold they feel at certain temperatures, so they might feel colder in the summer and warmer in the winter at the exact same temperature because they are wearing more or less clothing. The effects of this on the ideal office temperature, however, is generally considered to be small.

Importance to Businesses

Businesses might be concerned about how office temperatures affect worker productivity for several reasons. The main reason, of course, is that they typically want their workers to be as productive as possible during their working hours. If a business can do something to increase its workers' productivity, such as providing a work environment that is the proper temperature, it usually will want to do it.

Another reason why businesses might be concerned with office temperatures is the costs that are associated with heating or cooling a building. If a company is paying to heat or cool an office to a certain temperature that it doesn't realize will actually make its workers less productive, it could be costing itself money in two ways. A company could save money and help its workers be more productive by keeping the office temperature within the ideal range at all times.

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Discuss this Article

anon943786
Post 60

I work in a fast paced medical office that is heated to 75. Those of us running around like chickens without heads sweat buckets while lazy people sit around on their butts saying "Brrr" and complaining about being cold all the time. So annoying.

MaryE2
Post 59

So the building I am in runs fan air from the outside (50 to 70 degrees) alternating with heat from the boiler. Thermometer reads 75-76 and I am freezing, particularly my hands, which turn white. A co-worker moves temp near her desk all the way down, but I think mid-way would prevent the wide swings of temperature in the room. I've tried a heater in my cube, and the whole place is warmer and she is now opening outside doors. What can I say? Typing with gloves on is just miserable.

anon360059
Post 58

Seat people by temperature preference. Cold people sit on one side of the office with the heat on, hot people sit on the other side with the AC on, problem solved.

anon352546
Post 57

It is between 62 to 63 degrees where I sit on a daily basis! I have a coat, a blanket and a heating pad. It helps but then I have to get up to go to the printer every few minutes. This is highly inconvenient! My productivity really suffers. It is 55 degrees outside and they have the A/C on! Big corporate office. Temps are controlled by corporate. But this is ridiculous!

anon339751
Post 56

I work in an office in Dallas, Texas that keeps it at 82 degrees in July. I'm on fire!

anon332036
Post 55

I believe you can never satisfy all the people all the time. My office is too hot for my comfort. We keep the office at 23 and I sweat all winter. I live in northern Canada! I should never be hot in the winter. Our air conditioner has kicked in and the office is now at 22 and I think it's great. I am in a t-shirt and capris and sandals. Everyone else is wearing jackets and sweaters. What can you do?

anon320923
Post 53

We have seven people located in this office area of the company building. The temp reads 72-73 in winter at my desk.

I am a pretty moderate person. I adapt. It's been set at this temp for the past six years and my body is finally rebelling against it. In my opinion, I think a universal, general median office temp should be 70 in winter. We have like three or four sensors in just this small area and so we have one office at 70, which is perfect, and then everything else is at 72-73, I would guess.

I'm starting to get fungal infections under my arms because 72 is just too hot to work in. I do desk work. Currently, I'm wearing no socks, sandals and a short sleeved v neck T-shirt because I will get overheated and I have two small desk fans pointed at my armpits. 70 is an ideal temp for indoors in my extremely humble opinion.

anon319553
Post 52

I find the comments here about “menopausal” women who keep the thermostat turned down (apparently because they are having hot flashes) to be really snotty, ageist and misinformed. Every older woman isn’t going through menopause, and in my office, the older women are always cold.

I have noticed that the people in my office who are always cold are the ones who are out of shape and overweight, and they are men and women of all ages. I have also noticed that the people who are always cold are constantly drinking ice water and iced soft drinks. I am slim and active and my metabolism is high.

In the cold weather months, they keep the office thermostat at 77 degrees, which I find to be too warm. I go without stockings and wear short sleeved tops and skirts so I can feel comfortable. I prefer the temperature at about 70 degrees. In the summer, they crank the air conditioning thermostat down and I am the only one who doesn’t mind.

The facilities department controls the thermostats in our offices. They do allow workers to have space heaters, so the “cold” people are always running their heaters. I just wish there was a way to control the temperature to make it more comfortable for everyone.

anon315760
Post 51

I'm freezing to death. As soon as I enter my cube, I get goosebumps because the cold air just hovers in there. The hallway, the cube across from me, the bathroom, almost any other place are warmer than my cube. It's freezing. I'm miserable. It makes me feel sick.

anon313820
Post 50

This is my second winter working in an office where the thermostat is controlled by a menopausal woman. The first winter we were told that the heat was not going to be set over 55 to save money. When the summer came around, the A/C was run at full blast keeping the temperature in the low 60s. The cold is hard enough to take without being told it is to save money, when obviously it is solely for one person's comfort.

anon312662
Post 49

Just wanted to add that it is winter here and I just snuck in and turned the thermostat up to 68 degrees. Two minutes later, my boss came in and turned it back down.

anon307320
Post 48

@anon43098: Being overweight does not make you warm, just as being skinny does not make you cold. If you want to get slightly more scientific about it, generally 'skinny' people are warmer due to having a higher metabolism, where heavier set people are cooler due to lower metabolism and poor circulation due to heart problems, thyroid issues, diabetes and lack of exercise to name a few. So your statement runs along the border of uninformed.

Also, to the people who say, "you can put more on, I can't take more off". This is not actually true either. Wearing layers of clothes (when you do nothing but sit at a desk and type without moving all day) absolutely can cut off circulation. I know this to be true as I suffer from being cold all the time and have attempted to layer my clothing. My cold comes from suffering with fibromyalgia. I'm supposed to sit here and suffer with being cold that causes me an incredible amount of pain because you aren't comfortable attempting to compromise with other people in the office?

People just need to learn to be more flexible. This site is ridiculous.

anon306598
Post 46

It is 67º outside and raining. It is freezing in the office, and I would be ok if the heat wasn't turned on as long as the AC won't be turned on either. Of course, my boss, who is not overweight, turned the AC on, and I am typing with my gloves. It makes me scream inside. It is winter and there is no need for AC any longer.

These people turn their heat on at home when it is cold. That makes no sense. If they love it arctic, there should never be a heater, but they use it. Hypocrites. I just want it comfortable, not hot. I love walking into coffee shops, and it feels cozy. That is all I am asking.

anon287392
Post 45

My co-worker harasses me if I turn the air conditioner on at any time. The temperature in the office, according to the thermostat, is usually 80-84 degrees without the thermostat. She sits near the door and talks about how nice it is outside. I wear appropriate, casual office clothing for a Southern California office.

I sweat, get a headache and very sleepy. The boss and the co-worker (only three of us in the office) both justify the money savings of no a/c in that the thermostat is not really measuring the temperature where my desk is closer to the back of the office. I thank all of you for the unanimous blogging that 80 degrees and above is not normal in an office.

MargoAZ
Post 44

I am always the "cold" one in my office. I know its me, so I wear more clothes and try to position my computer out off drafts and the air conditioning. I've used space heaters which keep my legs nice and warm, but my fingers are still freezing.

I found a Rā-Key, the Radiant Keyboard and Mouse Heater, which only uses 400 watts and has a built in timer. I have the permission from Management and Facilities to use it. I'm no longer the cold one in the office!

anon276751
Post 43

To be honest, I get irate when the menopausal women are the ones controlling the temperature. I'm a healthy woman in my thirties who dresses temperature appropriately. Why should I sit in an icebox because you're having a moment that will eventually pass?

I'm all for being understanding, but when your need to strip outweighs my lack of productivity because my fingers are clamped together, I think we should revisit the temperature control. You can always buy a fan. I can't use heaters because they cause fires when people leave them on, and they draw too much power.

amypollick
Post 42

I can take the cold better than the heat. I can always put on a jacket, but heat gives me a headache and makes me nauseated.

Several years ago, when we could control the thermostat, one woman in the office, who is anemic and always freezing, had the thermostat on way up all the time. In mid-winter, I was wearing a heavy coat for outside, and a T-shirt for the office because it was so warm. No wonder the computers crashed all the time.

Neither extreme is fun, but I can take the cold. Heat makes me sick.

anon259713
Post 41

I've worked in offices so cold I had to wear fingerless gloves. It's really hard to turn pages when your fingers are that cold, too. Currently I work in an office that is most likely above 75 and I have to wear short sleeves as often as possible, even though it's only spring and chilly outside. Glad to know it's not just me though!

anon242603
Post 40

My office is also bitterly cold so I covered the ceiling vent with clear packing tape. This is the first day, so I hope it works.

anon232411
Post 39

No one has mentioned relative humidity in concert with inside temperatures. It can be 70 degrees inside but high humidity makes it a very uncomfortable 70 degrees. My suggestion is for new office buildings to install the venting system in the floors instead of the ceiling and if the budget allows, have each workspace built with temperature controls (lots of luck).

anon202867
Post 38

I work in and office that is not regularly heated and cooled. In the summer it will get over 90 and in the winter it will get in the 50s. When it's 90 in the office I don't find myself working too hard, it's just too damn hot and there's no effective way to cool down. At least in the winter I can wear long underwear and a sweater, the cool air also helps me stay alert and wide awake where the heat just makes me want to sleep. I do IT work and it's just not healthy to be working in 90 degree weather in a stuffy building!

anon174201
Post 37

We have an office of 50 people. 30 of them are almost every day in coats because - spring and summer- it is 66-68 inside (too cold if you have no circulation from working on a PC all day), and -winter - it is sometimes 50's inside because they want to save money. Then they heat full blast Monday and Tuesday to make up for the weekend.

Why, I ask, why? We compare the colors of our fingertips - purple to blue.

anon163851
Post 36

There is actually a ton of research that disagrees with this conclusion. The optimal temperature for worker productivity is usually in the comfort zone or slightly cooler than the comfort zone.

anon156161
Post 35

I have also seriously thought about looking for another job because it is extremely hot by my desk (which is also located by a copy machine). I feel sick almost every day.

anon153223
Post 34

I am a menopausal woman and I am about ready to scream because of the temperature in our office. It's always an ovenlike 75 to 80. I watch the women in my office shiver and say "burrrrrrr!" when the heater is blasting and the thermostat is at 80.

I don't get it and I am so tired of literally sitting at my desk and sweating in the middle of February. Someone should set that thermostat at 72 and lock it there. If you don't like it, put on a sweater. So disgruntled.

anon143031
Post 33

This study was conducted in Florida. People in Florida are used to putting up with temps in the 90s, so 77 degrees feels cool to them, while to people not in Florida, this would feel much warmer. Do a study in the North and see what you find.

murphy2
Post 32

I don't think that there will ever be a temperature that is acceptable to every one in an office setting. Frankly, I think 77 degrees is just a bit unrealistic to expect anyone to work in efficiently. I would be napping if it were that hot. People don't dress for the seasons when they work in an office. If it's winter you should be able to dress for it.

The problem is most women will wear a thin dress without a sweater and wonder why they're cold. So they expect I should remove my sweater because I'm hot. Doesn't make sense to me!

In this day of trying to conserve on unnecessary expenses for the use of electric and gas, I think a little more common sense should be applied.

anon126859
Post 30

I can commiserate with the people who are too hot at work. A few of my women co-workers regularly keep the thermostat on 75 degrees (at least). They will even turn the heat up this high in the late spring when it is gorgeous outside, and totally not necessary to have the heat up that high. I don't feel like this is a normal level of heat to deal with.

I'm relatively young and exercise regularly, so there is nothing wrong with my circulatory system. I'm tired of suffering because they are going through menopause and seem to suffer cold flashes in addition to hot flashes. They can put on damn sweaters.

I am so uncomfortably hot at work every day that it is starting to make me really angry. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I am considering finding a different job because the heat is making me ill. Why should the majority of people have to suffer just because a couple people have something wrong with their circulation?

anon114700
Post 29

I'm sitting here at work, freezing my butt off. It is 80 degrees outside and my office is 63 degrees. I love it warm, an I don't want to wear a jacket and ugg boots in the summer. My co workers love it cold but I always secretly boost it to 74 degrees. Actually one of my co workers right now is complaining that it is too hot in here. He always wears suits but our co doesn't require us to wear suits.

My productivity level at work is not good when it is cold. I have my AC vent closed and yet I'm still cold. I even went to the Chiropractor and he said my neck is swelling due to my work environment and I have extreme shoulder pains. This is not acceptable!

anon111397
Post 28

77 degrees my be OK for a woman who wears a blouse and comfortable pants or even a dress, but for a man in a suit with a tie on, it is a bit much.

71-73 would be much more tolerable and would force people to dress more appropriately for an office environment.

anon93240
Post 27

Adding clothes when you are cold to the bone does not make you warm. Adding a fan when you are hot will cool you off. I don't think the office should be hot, just comfortable for all not just some. Men should take off their jackets and menopausal women should put a fan on their desk. I have a heater at mine.

anon87782
Post 26

I fight over the temperature all day long. I like it between 71 to 73 degrees but the girl I work with would let it climb to 80 or 85 if I let her, and as soon as it gets to 75 she turns it off and it climbs to 78. Then I turn it on and she turns it off again. It's a living nightmare. I am always angry and wasting time like this typing about it.

anon83313
Post 25

I am sitting here staring blankly at my computer as my office thermometer tells me that it is 61 degrees in here. I have a sweater on and I have a snuggy blanket over that. It is almost summer like outside and I love wearing sandals but I go home with blue feet when I do. My productivity level. What productivity?

anon79631
Post 24

The ladies down the hall turn it up to 78F. The problem is I have three computers cranking and my office gets to be a fun 80 something. Do I feel productive? Hardly. I am more likely to go to sleep under my desk. Hmm. Thanks for the notion.

anon79150
Post 23

My coworkers keep the office temp so high (think 80+) that I keep two fans running at all times and don't turn on the overhead lights. I get headaches almost daily. I hate the heat and this definitely reduces my productivity.

anon70151
Post 21

My company keeps it at 78 degrees and that is too hot! I can't even enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning because I over heat! I can see my co-workers going to the beach in the summer time wearing winter jackets. I hate them.

anon69473
Post 20

I thought i was the only one -- 82 degrees and rising right now. I literally need to wear a diaper to contain the sweat. I am right by the thermostat and i just turned it down to a compromising 77 and took a pee and came back and it's cranked up again.

anon56860
Post 19

I work in an office that keeps the heat at 84 degrees. There must be a maximum heat recommendation somewhere. It is so hot, I and others feel ill. Also, at this temp, it seems it would cause people to fall ill more often, when it is 15 degrees outside.

anon55360
Post 18

Wow. I don't know who was complaining about the heat in PA, but I'm in a state office in PA (in December) and I'm freezing my tail off. It is not 68 degrees in here to say the least.

I don't care if it is a Monday morning. The building should be suitable for humans when the door opens. It is 9:30 a.m. and it is still cold. OSHA recommends 68 to 76 degrees, but does not enforce a "comfort" standard.

anon54794
Post 17

My answer to those in my office who are cold at anything less than 75 degrees is, "You can put on more clothing, I can't take any more off!" It's 78 degrees in the office, my fan is running on high, and the state I work for is going broke and laying people off.

Why is the office being heated to 78 degrees, when the state can't afford to waste money?

anon51608
Post 16

I don't know what you guys are complaining about. my boss keeps the thermostat set at 50-55 to save on heat, now that's something to complain about!

anon49578
Post 15

79 here today in the office. This is crazy. No one listens. Guess I will start stripping.

anon48573
Post 14

In PA it is currently 78 degrees in the office where I work. No one is happy. Way too warm and too many ladies in menopause here. I told my boss to fix it or off come the clothes. Oh yes. and we are all running fans at our desks. Very cost effective!

anon47953
Post 13

I work for a state agency and it's October in Pennsylvania, its not even cold yet. It's 74 degrees outside and 65 degrees in here, maybe even colder. we have on coats inside and didn't even wear them to get to work! It's ridiculous my employer said either the air is on or the heat is on -- either or. i just want the air off, we don't need heat yet. Employers are cold blooded creatures anyways.

anon47687
Post 12

I had to use a sick day because my office is so bleeping cold that I think I was getting hypothermia. I was shivering so bad and my fingers were so numb that I couldn't type. All that shivering made me so tired and weak. I had to go home. It's ridiculous. I wish we could sue the employer for it.

anon43098
Post 11

In reply to: "I feel 70 is not too cold if it's a large room full of workers. And if some of the workers are cold than they aren't working as hard as the ones that are hot. Size doesn't matter and that wasn't a nice coment." I should been more specific in my previous comment. There are about 15 of us in a very large 70 degree room. We are *not* allowed to get out of our chairs and move around except for two breaks and lunch. So we have no opportunity to move to circulate our blood. We sit perfectly still except for our hands on the keyboard. So in this case, size does matter, for the larger people have more insulation to keep them warmer. Everyone should be allowed to be comfortable. And FYI it's just as nasty when someone tells me to get some meat on my bones even though I am perfect size according to size charts.

anon41535
Post 10

I feel 70 is not too cold if it's a large room full of workers. And if some of the workers are cold than they aren't working as hard as the ones that are hot. Size doesn't matter and that wasn't a nice coment.

anon41424
Post 9

Our office is a constant 70 degrees all year round. I sit with a quilt wrapped around me. In fact, all the other 'normal' sized people are cold. Our boss puts it on 70 so she and the rest of the fat people can be comfortable. I think it should be a happy medium at least 72 - 73. My hands are so cold I cannot type fast.

anon39939
Post 8

There whould be a standard set range of, say 70-73 so no one can have their own personal comfort preference. Also, the temperature should be on display for all those that think or 'feel' that they are either too hot or too cold. The thermometer doesn't lie and always give an accurate indicator of the actual, real status.

anon38906
Post 7

Our office is 60 degrees and everyone is unhappy about it, except the one that controls the thermostat.

anon31571
Post 5

I just typed into a search engine "average office temperature" and this was the first article to pop up. The search began because my office is currently 77 degrees, my wpm drops when the office reaches this temperature because I am so warm that my fingers slip off of the keys. Thus I believe this study has obvious flaws. When will American companies value worker comfort and positivity over productivity? I wish to see this country become a tolerant and highly educated success, but turning up the heat is not the answer.

samgeek
Post 4

Let me begin by saying our temperature here is *cold*: we wear 3 layers plus coats. In an office. Ridiculous!

That having been said, does this study take into account the workload, time of day, time of production cycle (wk, mo, yr), or anything else? Past studies have shown that people are most productive in moderate (not cold, not too warm) conditions.

I would say a *lot* more work is required. But I guess it was a brief, entertaining article, eh?

anon14401
Post 3

What would be a solution for providing an individual employee with a non-electric, safe, economic heat source?

anon11237
Post 2

I have noticed that in our department when the temperatures are hot that productivity is down especially after lunch. The warmer the room the more tired the employees got. When we turned on the production went up.

anon692
Post 1

Is there a top temperature to work in an office? Seems good to know before we ask for help cooling the room down.

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