How to Win Office Temperature Wars

When comfort is at stake, cubicles can become a battleground between hot and cold

Is this familiar? One colleague has a mini-fan on their desk, sleeves rolled up, a super-sized cup of iced coffee in hand and 20 feet away another worker wears a hoodie, shivers under a fleece blanket, and grips a mug of hot tea as a (prohibited) space heater cranks away under their desk.

There are few things that pit coworkers against each other like control of the thermostat.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) recommends employers maintain workplace temperatures in the range of 68 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit, but the extremes of those recommendations may not suit the majority. And then there are those that impose their extreme preferences.

Short of putting a cage around the thermostat, here are some ways you might just win…or at least be more comfortable.

Just turn up the heat

When the office temperature in a study increased from 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, typing errors fell by 44 percent and typing output jumped 150 percent. If your thermostat is locked down, drop this knowledge on your boss: “I was just reading a scientific study about how to reduce errors....”

Prioritize productivity

Research shows that the highest productivity levels with temperatures at 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit. You could be paying 10 percent more in labor expenses when the office temperature is uncomfortable, according to a Cornell University study.

Have some caffeine – or don’t 

That coffee isn’t just keeping you awake – caffeine can warm you up by increasing your body’s metabolic rate and your temperature. If coffee isn’t your jam, hot ginger tea provides a double warming dose: caffeine plus ginger to enhance the production of body heat.

Use your phone

You now can have a voice in the temperature of a conference room or your cube. Our Honeywell Vector Occupant allows smartphone users to register feedback about office temps with the building manager.

You might really be in luck if your building has a system that uses a Honeywell WEBS system with the Niagara 4 Floor Plan Zoning – that means that it’s possible to adjust the temperature around exactly where you sit.

Move to a warmer zone
Not as high tech, but sitting near a window can be helpful. In the winter, the sun’s rays help warm you up and in the summer, if you’re lucky enough to have windows that open, you can crack a window to let some warmer air in (The building manager might have something to say about this eventually, so don’t get too used to it!). If it’s an option, trade seats with the co-worker who seems to have an internal comfort setting that’s the opposite of yours. Who knows, after a few weeks sitting in your seat they might agree with you and you’ve gained an ally in the Thermostat Wars.

Take a walk
Not in a bad way. Just get up and move around. Walk outside if you can, or even do a few laps back and forth from your desk to the office front door. Not only will it get your blood pumping and warm you up, but you’ll also be closer to meeting your step goals and beating Barb in accounting on the office step challenge for the week.

There are some things your building manager can do to ease thermostat standoffs and we can help. Here’s more information about office thermostat battles them and save the building money.