Air temperature in workplaces has a direct effect on productivity. Common sense tells us that if it’s too hot or two cold, productivity will definitely suffer, but even a shift of several degrees in office temperature can make a difference in productivity and overall workplace ergonomics. The majority of scientific research has shown that optimal office temperature between should be between 70 and 73 degrees Fahrenheit provides the best air temperature to obtain maximum worker productivity.
What Is The Ideal Office Temperature?
Unfortunately, different studies can produce widely different answers as shown by one conducted by Cornell University and another conducted by the British government. The Cornell study indicated that 77 degrees Fahrenheit was the optimal temperature, while the British study put it at 74 degrees Fahrenheit. Even with the variations in ideal temperature, all of the studies indicated that swings of just a few degrees can affect productivity by a minimum of 5%.
Consider if your commercial HVAC system is set for an optimal temperature of 71.5 degrees Fahrenheit. When the temperature goes up to 77 degrees, productivity drops to 98%. By the time its 92 degrees, productivity is at 85%. When temperature decreases, the falloff isn’t as steep. At 66 degrees Fahrenheit, productivity is at 98% and is down to 90% at 59 degrees.
Optimal temperature, however, doesn’t solely rely on a number as several other factors come into play. Seasons affect ow we feel about temperature, allowing us to be more comfortable at cooler temperatures in the winter. Clothing is another factor, although this is also affected by the seasons. Summer finds us wearing lighter and thinner clothes made of breathable materials, so we tolerate warmer air temperatures. Body Mass Index (BMI), or how much fat we have, is an insulating factor. People also feel colder as they age, particularly individuals over 55.
Climate and latitude play a part in our expectations about comfort. Yet, the amount of humidity in the air may be the biggest overriding factor. A relative humidity of 40% is optimal for year round comfort, thus keeping a good relative humidity level is key to maintaining a productive office environment.
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