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The Talk

Cool down office temperature wars with these easy tips

Have a coworker that's always cold? There's help for that.
Have a coworker that's always cold? There's help for that.

Most office workers in the Greater Lehigh Valley have the privilege of enjoying the variety of all four office seasons.

You know them: Freezing cold air conditioning in the summer; heat too high in the winter; and never knowing what to expect during the ever-changing weather of spring and fall.

It can be frustrating having to dress in an outfit that’s a compromise to what the weather is going to be inside versus outside.

But, it gets even worse when co-workers can’t decide just what the temperature is supposed to be.

We all have the co-worker who is always cold. She wears a heavy wool sweater with a blanket wrapped around her shoulders while everyone else is comfortable. Then there’s the guy who takes off his jacket and tie and complains about the heat the moment the thermostat goes above 68.

Most of us, however, are in the middle. Just probably not on the same side of the middle, according to a recent survey by staffing firm Robert Half International.

THERMOSTAT BATTLES

Reaching 1,000 U.S. office workers, the survey found that 43 percent of co-workers have experienced conflicts with others over the office temperature.

“That’s a high number,” said Jeanie Sharp, a regional manager for Robert Half in Pennsylvania.

She said it’s also a bit more complicated than a couple of people fighting over the thermostat. It can affect a business.

First, it affects a lot of people.

According to the survey, 43 percent prefer a cooler office, 30 percent prefer a warmer office and only 27 percent expressed no preference.

ASK YOUR STAFF

It also can affect their work. Those surveyed said they are more productive at their preferred temperature and correspondingly are less productive if it’s too hot or cold.

With that in mind, Sharp recommends that bosses take the temperature of the office (pun intended) and find out the staff’s heating and cooling preferences.

“Our first suggestion is to gather feedback from employees. You can just discuss it with them or actually take a survey,” she said.

Of course, with dramatically different answers, it could be hard to please everyone.

DRESS FOR COMFORT

There are some things you can do, though.

Sharp said one recommendation is to relax the dress code so workers can dress for the temperature.

Maybe if that warm guy doesn’t have to wear a jacket and tie on a hot day, he’ll be less likely to complain when the office gets warmer.

Also, she said, most offices often have hotter and cooler spots based on the location of vents. Perhaps employees can be moved to a warmer or cooler spot in the office based on their preferences.

FANS, HEATERS

Small things an office manager can do include having hot and cold beverages available to heat up the cold and cool down the warm.

Small personal desk fans or under-the-desk heaters can help staff members control their immediate environment when it conflicts with the preferences of those around them.

Just don’t overload the power circuit.

A little accommodation can go a long way to keeping everyone happy and warm or cool, and it will keep your office from descending into a thermostat war zone.

 

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