According to Survey Sampling International for OpenWorks, more than three in five employees tamper with the office thermostat unbeknownst to their colleagues. This was well documented on NBC/s hit sitcom The Office, with a subplot revolving around different characters battling over control of the thermostat. As someone sits down after changing the thermostat, someone else immediately gets up to change it again. One character even went as far as arriving early to set the thermostat to his preferred temperature!
Studies have also shown men and women prefer different temperatures in the workplace to maximize productivity and intellectual stimulation. On average, men preferred a cooler 72 °F while women preferred a more stifling 77 °F. These studies are not the concrete guidelines for each office, but they do prove one statement is true: Everybody has their temperature preferences at work, and they often differ from peer to peer. This can lead to disputes and arguments, which hamper productivity and create unnecessary tension. The thermostat is a “hot” subject in the office, but there are ways to courteously resolve the debate. Read below to learn more about how to respectfully resolve office temperature debates!
Approach Your Supervisor or Have an Office Meeting
If you are uncomfortable with the temperature in the office, you can approach your supervisor or bring it up in a meeting. This must be done in a respectful way, and you also must be willing to compromise on the issue. Everybody has different preferences, and there will most likely be someone who disagrees with you in some capacity since the temperature directly impacts every worker.
An office meeting is a great forum to discuss the temperature because everybody will be present and there can be an excellent back and forth dialogue. Everybody can list their preferences and voice their opinions and, hopefully, the office can agree on a solution or very fair compromise.
However, you can also approach your boss in a one-on-one setting if that makes you feel more comfortable. The one-on-one approach minimizes the confrontation and potential tension of a group setting. Either way, it is best to make your voice heard in some regard if you are uncomfortable with the temperature of your work environment.
Keep a Sweater, Jacket, or Blanket at Your Desk
One of the easiest ways to resolve the office temperature debate is to simply dress for the temperature. If you know your office will be a little hotter than you prefer, you can wear lighter fabrics and layers to work. Certain fabrics such as cotton, nylon, polyester, and linen are very breathable and allow you to feel more relaxed at a warmer temperature. If you know it is going to be colder, you can bring an extra sweater or jacket to work. You can also keep a blanket at your desk for extra warmth and comfort!
While this may not, by definition, “resolve” the temperature debate, it is definitely an easy solution. It avoids further escalating the conflict, and it is an excellent compromise for a situation with lots of gray area. If you are unable to compromise with your employees, you can take the matter into your own hands by dressing appropriately.
Desk Fans and Mini Heaters
You can also accessorize your individual desk area with portable heating and cooling technologies to remain comfortable. There are a variety of options available to heat and cool your own area without drastically impacting others around you.
For example, a small desk fan could provide you with a cool, refreshing source of air if the office is uncomfortably hot. You could also purchase a space heater to warm your desk area or cubicle if the office is too cool. All these options are economically friendly, as the initial product cost is very low. They also have the simplest installation process possible. All you have to do is put it down and plug it in! You’ll have heat or cool air at your desk in no time!
There’s an App for That!
There also exists a modern solution for office temperature debates; smartphone applications can be used to mediate these fiery conflicts. There are different applications with features designed to help find the best temperature. For example, Comfy allows tenants to request from Warm My Space, Cool My Space, or I’m Comfy options, and the HVAC system reacts accordingly. CrowdComfort allows tenants to send complaints to their building manager and, roughly, 30-40% are temperature related.
View Dynamic Glass is a smart window with an application that allows users to lighten or darken to alter the interior temperature, and Vector Occupant allows users to complain about office temperatures with the building’s system. Finally, AppNexus allows users to order a 10-minute blast of hot or cool air on command. Many of the industry’s most trusted HVAC brands also have systems that are compatible with applications. These are not the only applications available, so there is certainly something to help in your office!
You can also implement multi-zone technology in your office to resolve any temperature conflicts. Multi-zone technology involves an outdoor compressor that is connected to multiple indoor ductless air conditioners. One outdoor unit can connect to up to eight ductless mini-splits. This allows you to control the temperature in one room, or “zone,” without impacting the others.
Therefore, multi-zone technology in your office allows you to control your zone without altering the temperature of your colleagues. However, this option may be unfeasible in an office area that is very wide open, because it is hard to “zone” an open area, but it is ideal for a workplace with separated rooms. Even though it may seem like a stalemate, there are several ways to diplomatically resolve any office temperature debates. Sweaters, discussions, portable heaters/coolers, and various technological innovations allow employees to respectfully come to a solution or compromise concerning the workplace temperature.