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Build Your Career Office Life

Heating Up: Office Temperature Gets Workers' Blood Boiling

Heating Up: Office Temperature Gets Workers' Blood Boiling
Credit: Eugene Sergeev/Shutterstock

A war is being waged in many offices today, and it's not over who can get the most work done or who can climb the corporate ladder the fastest. The major source of contention is over temperature, new research finds.

According to a study from CareerBuilder, 20 percent of employees have argued with a co-worker about the office temperature, with 18 percent having secretly changed the temperature during the winter.

Overall, the research shows that 23 of employees think their office is consistently too cold, while 25 percent feel it's too hot.

"It's impossible to change the thermostat to something that pleases everybody," Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, said in a statement. "But what you can do is look at what employees want and need to be productive and accommodate where you can."

The study discovered that most employees believe the office temperature has a direct impact on how much work they get done. Specifically, 53 percent of those surveyed said working in an office that is too cold has a negative impact on their productivity, with 71 percent saying the same for a warm environment.

Workers who think their office is too frigid this time of year are taking a number of steps to keep warm. The study found that 44 percent are dressing in layers, 36 percent are drinking hot beverages and 31 percent are wearing a jacket all day.   

Other common measures chilled workers are taking to stay comfortable include wearing a heavy sweater, using a space heater and covering up with a blanket. [Difficult Co-Worker? Don't Get Defensive ]

IT workers are the most likely to say their office is the perfect temperature. The study found that 70 percent of IT employees think their office temperature is just right, with 57 percent of financial services workers and 53 percent of retail employees saying the same. Manufacturing workers are the least happy with their workplace temperature, with only 43 percent saying it's just right.

Knowing that fighting over the ideal temperature can get the tempers of some workers' flaring, Haefner offers employers several tips on how to gain a truce on their office's hot/cold war:

  • Try to find a middle ground: While difficult, try to get your employees to agree on a temperature setting that is acceptable to everyone. To find out what that perfect setting is, tell them you'll set it at a certain temperature for a few days and tweak it as needed until a happy medium is found.
  • Be accommodating: Understand that employees who sit in certain areas of the office, such as under a vent or near a drafty window, may need special accommodations. Allow these workers to bring in space heaters or fans to make themselves more comfortable. They key is to ensure you set safety rules first.
  • Check your windows: In order to ensure the temperature stays consistent, check the insulation around your windows. It's important to make sure all your office windows are sealed correctly to keep warm air in during the winter and block heat from creeping in during the summer.

The study was based on surveys of 321 full-time workers across a variety of industries and company sizes.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.