Seemingly inevitable, workplace thermostat wars are common, and summer is prime time for the battle. Three of five employees tamper with thermostat settings without consulting colleagues, leaving many frustrated business owners to turn to their local commercial air conditioner service company for advice on ways to navigate this landmine-ridden battle.
Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?
Multiple issues complicate the climate control war. Current indoor climate regulations, based on outdated empirical data from the 1960s, deduce temperature settings based on the comfort level of a 40-year-old male weighing 154-pounds. This leaves women in the cold, literally, as their smaller statures slower metabolisms make their resting heat production much lower – possibly as much as 35%. Today’s ‘average’ worker is far more varied in size and age. And active versus sedentary lifestyles, life stages, health issues, building layout, and difficulties mitigating indoor/outdoor temperatures in wardrobe add yet more fuel to the fire.
More than an Irritant, A Productivity Thief
Expressing comfort frustrations through covert thermostat tactics isn’t peaceable or earth-friendly. Killing morale, productivity, and your energy budget, a Cornell University study uncovered uncomfortable office temperatures resulted in 44% more typist-errors in room temperatures below 68°F. Bodily warmth, associated with productivity and feelings of trust and empathy, fosters an ideal work environment. A climate comfortable for all employees could save an average of $2 per-worker/per-hour, up to 12% of wage expenses.
So What’s the Best Thermostat Setting?
While OSHA recommends a 68-76°F range, to make the most of labor, your highest expense, the ideal office temperature according to studies is 71.6°F, but this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. People will sacrifice comfort for energy savings and environmental benefit. This is why the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers and commercial HVAC contractors in NJ recommend getting employees involved in the discussion to give them a sense of control in the battle, and keeping settings around 68°F for heating, and 78°F for cooling, to achieve comfort consensus within a few degrees of this range, and then securing your thermostat so it can’t be tampered with.
Other Ways to Prevent a ‘Cold War’ Office Environment
Make Sure Current Office Setup is Not At-Fault
Building and HVAC system design can both affect occupant comfort. Server rooms, perimeter offices, and overcrowded areas need more cooling. Repairs issues such as leaky/clogged ducts, broken fans, faulty controls, and neglected maintenance can also effect comfort. Having your system inspected by a trusted HVAC service Philadelphia is essential.
Upgrade to a Zoned System
Installing thermostats in chronically overheated/cold offices such as windowed or basement locales.
‘Smarten-up’ Your System
With a new smart thermostat integrated with apps like CrowdComfort and Comfy, empowering employees to send comfort concerns via smartphone, and delivering the information you need to better manage temperature issues.
Renegotiate Real Estate
Clustering workers who prefer a warm/cold environment together.
Be More Flexible
Consider instituting more flexible work hours or telecommuting opportunities, which are shown to reduce distractions (such as an uncomfortable climate) and boost productivity.