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The Big Debate on Temperature in an Open Plan Office

We’ve written plenty in the past about the importance of creating the best working environment possible. In some cases, this could mean looking for ways to inspire creativity on behalf of your staff through the design and layout of your office. In others, it could entail brightening up the space in an attempt to impress those who come through the front doors.

At the end of the day, this is what we do at Saracen Interiors: we help our clients create dynamic working spaces that are functional, attractive and even inspirational. But today, we’re going to consider an aspect of office design that’s often overlooked – temperature. As you’ll see, the way you set your office thermostat can be every bit as important as the interior design motif or office furniture that you arrange throughout the space.

Temperature as an Element of Office Design

It’s important for business operators and office managers to acknowledge that the office temperature is very much an aspect of its design. It is a core constituent of the office ‘atmosphere’ – both literally and figuratively. This is a variable that can be leveraged to the company’s advantage rather than pushed to the side or taken for granted.

It’s a bit ironic to note that – in this day of climate-controlled interiors – people seem to be less comfortable than ever before. One recent survey reported on by the BBC found that 42% of workers think their building is too warm, whilst another 56% believe it’s too cold. In other words, 98% of employees don’t feel comfortable with the temperature at work.

Emerging research on the subject suggests that office thermostats are set according an outdated formula that caters to the metabolic rates of men. This so-called ‘thermal comfort model’ was developed in the 1960s and continues to be used in the 21st century. Times have changed, but the setting on the thermostat hasn’t.

Rethink Your Office Thermostat Setting

Problems with temperature this are exacerbated in open offices, where it’s really not possible to modulate the temperature to accommodate various tastes and preferences. And given the fact that the discomfort related to temperature correlates to lower productivity, it’s important that office managers strive to get the temperature right.

The good news is that there has been plenty of research devoted to trying to find the optimal office temperature, and some scientists believe they’re on to something. In particular, a study led by Cornell University found that chilly workers make more errors, and that cooler temperatures could effectively increase labour cost by roughly 10 per cent.

Let’s consider that in another light. Keeping the office cooler during the summer costs more money in terms of energy bills. And it also increases your labour cost. To that end, it seems there’s no question that warmer is better when it comes to setting your office thermostat. According to that Cornell study, the ideal temperature hovers at around 22 degrees Celsius. Try adjusting your thermostat accordingly and see if you can detect a difference.


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