Getting the temperature right can boost job satisfaction, productivity and collaboration. Getting it wrong can make workers slow, fat or even sick. Ex-President Obama famously kept the Oval Office so hot that his adviser joked in the NY Times that ‘you could grow orchids in there.’
So, what is the optimum office temperate for best brain function?
The Helskinki study suggested 21°C or 22°C is best. The more recent Cornell study, however, suggests people are far more productive at 25°C.
Any hotter and mistakes are made, any cooler and the error rate soars also. At 20°C 44% of employees made considerably more mistakes…
It’s worth noting: it’s the distraction of the cold or extreme warm that takes your brain off the ball.
Here are some variable factors:
Men Vs Women
The metabolic rate, which currently controls the office thermostat, is based on a 40-year-old, 70kg man. Boris Kingma from Maastricht University Medical Centre found that women have significantly lower metabolic rates than men and need their offices 3°C warmer.
Creative Thinking or Productivity?
It also depends on the task at hand. New research suggests warm environments are better for creative thinking, while cooler workplaces keep people alert during repetitive or more monotonous tasks.
You can’t please everyone in the office. As long as you’re somewhere between 21 and 25 degrees someone in the office will be knocking it out of the park while others will have either a jumper on or a desk fan on full blast!
We’ve recently had long-awaited air-con installed and us creative types find we are happy in a perfect 24°C. Until the sun disappears, of course, then it’s back to the drawing board…