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Thermostat wars: Too hot or too cold? Where do you stand?

Ladan Hayes | May 23, 2018

Office temperature

If the temperature in your workspace is an ongoing battle, it could be hurting productivity.

Temperatures across the country are rising, which means temperatures in most offices are going down, turning your hot coffee into an iced one instantly. According to a CareerBuilder survey, nearly half of workers (46 percent) say their office is either too hot or too cold — and 51 percent say sitting in an office that is too cold impacts their productivity, 67 percent say sitting in an office that is too warm does the same.

Never mind dirty office microwaves, noisy coworkers and battles over the conference room. No workplace dispute is as divisive as where to set the office thermostat. Fifteen percent of workers say they have argued with a coworker about office temperature (7 percent of men vs. 22 percent of women), and nearly 1 in 5 (19 percent) have secretly changed the office temperature during the summer—13 percent to make it cooler, 6 percent to make it warmer.

Where the battle is being fought

Broken down by industry, retail has the hottest employees, and health care has the coldest.

Top sectors with office temperature that is too hot

  • Retail: 28 percent
  • Manufacturing: 23 percent
  • Health care: 19 percent

Top sectors with office temperature that is too cold

  • Health care: 30 percent
  • Retail 24 percent
  • Manufacturing: 18 percent

The greatest victory is the battle not fought

Thermostat wars have been being waged since the invention of the thermostat in the 1800s. So while it’s impossible to please everyone, there are steps you can take to create a more comfortable working environment for yourself no matter what you're feeling. Here are some tip on staying comfortable in unpredictable office temperatures.

  • Change up your environment: If a particular time of day or office space is too warm or too cold for productive work, talk to your manager about adjusting your work schedule, telecommuting or moving to a conference room for a portion of the day.
  • Get a personal fan: If you don't have room for a large fan at your desk, you can opt for a small, smartphone-powered fan to create a comfortable breeze.
  • Take breaks: It’s almost summer, so enjoy the sun and a little vitamin D. Even if your office temperature isn’t bothering you, a quick break is always a good idea to boost productivity.

  • Use a heated blanket: Do your office rules prevent you from using a space heater? Try a heated blanket instead. These can be plugged in right under your desk and placed on your lap to keep you warm without looking unprofessional.

Looking for more science-backed ways to be more productive, or creative ways to get out of a workday rut?

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