You probably know this scenario: there is a cold draft of air coming through the door, or you cannot stop sweating! But what would be the ideal temperature in an office? What do you do if you’re still too hot or too cold? This and more in our new blog article.

Ergonomics and temperature

Something you have probably read on our page before is the definition of ergonomics. Ergonomics means to help humans to the best and healthiest environment in order to protect health and body. The right temperature also plays a role in this area since it has a huge impact on our well-being and therefore our productivity and motivation at work.

How does temperature affect the body?

Our bodies are masters in regulating their temperature. Different cells and organs need extremely specific temperatures in order to function right. Just think of a fever – only one or two degrees in body temperature can have severe consequences on our well-being. A tiny temperature difference is enough for some women to use as a contraceptive. A temperature difference of plus or minus 3 degrees Celsius can be life-threatening to the human body. There is no denying: the right temperature can be essential to feel well – and work well.

The human body temperature fluctuates slightly throughout the day. The lowest we get is usually at around 2am while we sleep. From there, the temperature rises just a little bit and is the highest in the evening. Our actual body temperature is not only dependent on the time of the day, though. The amount of exercise, the spot where you measure the temperature and the temperature of the environment around you also play a role. With this knowledge settled, we can conclude that the temperature around has greatly affects our health and our ability to work.

Even if temperature might be a bit of a “matter of taste”, there are still some aspects that are necessary to consider in an office environment. If someone is too cold all the time, that person is going to be sick sooner or later. Temperature can be, therefore, ergonomic and should be adjusted in the healthiest way possible to the human body.

What is the right temperature for an office?

The answer to this question is not simple, since there is no absolute solution to this problem. First things first though: fresh air is the best air. It is recommended to air the room at least once per hour. The only instance you should not do this is if it is extremely hot outside or if you know that the air outside is highly polluted (e.g. if your office is next to a chemical factory). Here we recommend investing in air-purifiers and pollutant filters to prevent serious health risks.

In the morning, when you start working, the temperature should generally be rather warm and cool down throughout the day, in order to not become crazy tired in the later afternoon. Cool air makes us more awake, warm air feels cozier. Depending on which kind of air temperature regulation is available in your office (radiator, floor heating panels, AC, etc.) and how fast the temperature can be changed, you should approximately go by this idea. Listening to your body is still the best idea: if you are too hot or too cold, of course do something about it.

In the future, constant individual temperature adjustability is supposed to be part of office solutions with smart technologies. Some of those futuristic technologies exist already, but we are far from incorporating them as the status quo. Lastly, it has to be mentioned that temperature is a subjective factor to many. Some of us feel hot when others feel cold, and vice versa. It’s most important that you feel comfortable!

What do I do if I’m still too hot or too cold?

Communicate your needs

In general: communication should be the first approach to improvement. Try to speak to your colleagues. Maybe you can come to a compromise and air out the office more often or less often. Try to be fair: if everyone is already sweating in their t-shirts, it would be only fair to expect from you to wear another sweatshirt if you are still cold. In most cases, a conversation with colleagues or employer will fix the problem at hand about the temperature.

Dress like an onion

No, not the way you think! 🙂 If your perception of temperature fluctuates a lot, try to clothe yourself in layers: many layers but thin layers. This way you can control how warm you feel by taking off or putting on the layers. This also applies to your feet – just put on more than one pair of socks! No one’s going to notice! Should your job allow, try to work in fluffy warm socks during the winter – we promise it’s amazing!

Heating panels and heating pillows

It doesn’t matter why: if it’s cold outside and your employer wants to save money on the heating costs, or if open doors constantly let the freezing air pass through: you start freezing pretty quickly. Even if you’re just a really big fan of feeling warm and cozy, you might get cold at some point. A practical solution for this dilemma are heating panels and heating pillows. They usually do not pose a problem to colleagues because they heat locally where you put them. The coolest (pun intended) part: You can turn them on and off as you wish, any time, any where.

Table fans

When it’s extremely hot outside, table fans can help quickly and effectively against sweating and exhaustion. If you place them right, they also do not affect your colleagues. Before you purchase a table fan, however, make sure it is allowed and okay with your co-workers. Try out the fan before you buy it, since the air stream should be gentle and the fan not too loud overall.

At least you should take into account your co-workers and that the fan should not disturb them while working. When summer is over, you can easily store and keep your table fan at home until the next summer.

Change your workplace

Of course we don’t mean to say you should just leave the business you work for altogether! Rather, we mean it very literally – figure out if there is another spot in the office our building where you can work. If there is just no other solution available and you are getting to your limits every day because of some temperature-related issue, talk to your employer about a personal office or some other space to work at. Even working from home in the home office could be a solution here.

Ressourcen und weitere Lektüre:

https://www.gesundearbeit.at/cms/V02/V02_1.3.1.a/1342537032283/arbeitnehmerinnenschutz/arbeitsplatz/arbeitsumfeld/temperatur-am-arbeitsplatz

https://www.beobachter.ch/arbeit/arbeitsrecht/hitze-im-buro-muss-der-chef-fur-abhilfe-sorgen

https://krank.de/koerperprozesse/koerpertemperatur/

https://www.daswetter.com/nachrichten/wissenschaft/was-geschieht-mit-unserem-koerper-wenn-die-temperaturen-steigen.html

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