Instant productivity lift: change the temperature

by HRM24 Oct 2012

Too cold in winter, too hot in summer – whoever’s in charge of the thermostat is surely the least popular person in the office. But it seems you could be changing more than mood when you spin the dial.

While it’s hard to get coworkers to agree on a temperature, Cornell University researchers found some decisive numbers in their office experiments. It turns out warmer is better when it comes to productivity.

When the temperature was 20°C workers made 44% more errors and were half as productive than when the thermostat hit a balmy 25°C.

Chilly workers not only make more errors but cooler temperatures could increase a worker's hourly labour cost by 10%, head researcher, professor Alan Hedge estimated. The study also showed that raising the temperature to a “more comfortable thermal zone” was worth about $2 an hour per worker to the employer.

“Temperature is certainly a key variable that can impact performance," Hedge said. “Our ultimate goal is to have much smarter buildings and better environmental control systems in the workplace that will maximize worker comfort and thereby productivity," Hedge added.


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