What’s the Ideal Office Temperature for Productivity?

You should think twice before adjusting the office thermostat, because it could affect your productivity levels.

According to a meta-analysis of two dozen existing studies conducted by Lawrence Berkeley National¬†Laboratory, indoor temperatures can affect workers’ comfort, health and overall performance. The study’s authors said indoor air pollution “affects several human responses, including thermal comfort, perceived air quality, sick building syndrome symptoms and performance at work.”

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to seasoned office workers, many of whom are well aware of the correlation between indoor climate and productivity. When it’s too hot, you may experience higher stress levels along with increased difficulty concentrating. Of course, similar effects are felt when it’s too cold, which is why it’s important to maintain a proper temperature in the office. So, what’s the ideal office temperature for maximum productivity?

Several studies have been done to answer this question. The aforementioned study, conducted by Lawrence Berkeley National¬†Laboratory, found the ideal office temperature was between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, with 71.6 degrees being the “sweet spot.” But not everyone is convinced that these findings are 100% accurate. One problem with this study is that it focused primarily on call centers, where productivity is easier to measure. Perhaps different indoor workplaces have different ideal temperatures for optimal productivity.

Furthermore, a separate study conducted in 2010 suggests that workers with creative personalities prefer cooler temperatures, whereas workers in less-demanding jobs prefer warmer temperatures. Whether or not this is true remains to be seen. But the fact is that indoor temperatures can and will affect workers’ productivity, either helping or hurting them.

When productivity levels drop in the workplace, it usually costs the employer. Cornell University psychological scientist Alan Hedge conducted a small study in 2004 in which he tracked the productivity of nine female workers at an insurance office in Orlando, FL. Hedge discovered that workers’ productivity levels were the highest at 77 degrees, achieving 100% type rate with just 10% errors. When the temperature dropped to 68 degrees, however, typing rates dropped and error rates increased to 25%. Based on these findings, Hedge concluded that maintaining an optimal temperature in the workplace saves employers roughly $2 per worker, per hour — or about 12.5% of workers’ wage costs.

The bottom line is that employers and office managers need to consider how indoor temperatures affect workers’ productivity. As noted in several studies, turning up or down the thermostat, even by just a few degrees, can have a BIG impact on productivity.