There are lots of ways you can boost your productivity. You can consume caffeine or adaptogens. You can take a cat nap. You can take a break and go for a walk outside. But did you know that the temperature of the room you’re working in can have a massive impact on your productivity levels, too?
Working in a space that is too cold or too warm can really hijack your ability to focus and be productive. Think about it: Has the air conditioner ever been blasting so hard in a room that you’re barely able to focus on anything—besides the fact that your forgot to bring your extra sweater into the office? Or maybe it’s been so humid and sweaty that your brain feels like mush and you get nothing done?
Temperature matters for good work to happen, but some of us suffer from the interior climate more that others. There is actually a major discrepancy between men and women in their ideal working temperature for productivity and clear thinking.
Studies have shown that the thermostats in modern offices tend to be set to appease men’s preference for chillier temperatures. Women, who tend to have slower metabolisms and generally prefer warmer temperatures than men, actually suffer a major dip in productivity in cooler workspaces. It’s not a recipe for female success.
Raising the temperature even just a few degrees makes a massive difference. With each degree increase in room temperature in the study, women correspondingly performed better on the given math and language tests.
Men, on the other hand, performed better at cooler temperatures. However, their productivity at warm temperatures didn’t suffer as much as women’s did at cooler temperatures. So, it pays off for everyone when offices set the thermostat a little warmer than usual.
But aren’t cold offices supposed to make you more productive?
Yes, that’s partially true. Believe it or not, we’ve been using a mathematical model to determine the ideal work space temperature for years: Fanger’s Thermal Comfort Equation. It takes into account ambient air temperature, air speed, vapor pressure, comfort and clothing.
But there is one major flaw.
The variable metabolic rate the formula uses is based on that of a 40 year old man weighing around 150 pounds. So it is designed to please male productivity needs and underestimates female metabolic needs by a significant amount.
At one time, middle-aged men made up most of the American office place, so cool offices did lead to greater productivity. But now women account for half of the workforce, and women tend to suffer a lot at these frigid temperatures.
Super cold summer offices are actually freezing female workers and making them less effective. No woman should have to carry a winter coat into a frigid office in July.
So what’s the best office temperature?
Studies have suggested that anywhere between 71F and 77F (22C to 25C) is ideal. So tell your workplace to warm it up a little.
Men will manage fine, women will become more productive and happier, and it’s more environmentally sustainable (and money saving!). Tell your workplace to get ready for a much more productive team—and a much cheaper electricity bill this summer!