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08 September 2016

Office staff can still be productive in summer without wearing shorts

Discussion on whether to wear shorts or not, the speed of the fan, or introducing a tropical work schedule when it is extremely hot are not unfamiliar office topics in summer. One colleague thinks it’s too cold, for someone else it’s too hot, and yet another is fed-up with the draught from the air-conditioning. All this ends up on the facility manager’s desk, and he plays a vital role in managing the office climate. How can he draw a suitable line between perception and facts?

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Several variables play a role in determining the ideal temperature. Research has shown that women generally feel colder than men. Every workplace also has to cope with other influences, such as the position in relation to windows, doors, heating and air-conditioning. Standard temperatures (around 22 degrees) which almost every facility manager use, are actually outdated. And in many cases they’re predicated by men. Nevertheless finding the right temperature is extremely important for productivity.

Every temperature has its advantages and disadvantages

In fact the ideal temperature for an office doesn’t exist, if we are to believe this BBC article. Every temperature has its advantages and disadvantages for individual employees. The most pleasant temperature is considered to be 22 degrees, but the population surveyed that said this was too small to be reliable.  What is agreed, however, is that temperature is an important element in the office, and together with CO2 and humidity, it has a clear effect on an organisation’s productivity.

There are several elements that the facility manager can use, for example, the use of sensors enables CO2 and humidity to be measured on a floor or even in a specific workplace. This allows the office climate to be more easily adjusted to an employee’s wish.

Queuing up in the amusement park

Yet to a certain extent the employee’s temperature experience is also a perception. Someone who is not enjoying his or her work will be more readily bothered by issues such as the office temperature. This can also affect the perception of facility management. It’s just like queuing up in an amusement park. It’s irritating if I have to wait in a queue for twenty minutes before taking a ride. But if I’m entertained while waiting, such as I’m updated on how long I still have to wait, and if I had actually estimated that I would have to queue for an hour, then my experience of the twenty minutes is really quite different.

Controlling with facts and perception

The facility manager can tackle this divide between perception and reality by providing an insight into the office climate. Allow the staff to see that the temperature, CO2 level and humidity actually match their wishes, and that the best possible working climate has been achieved for them. Also measure perception. This might be through conducting small benchmark surveys, for instance, but also by putting up boards with smileys in the toilets where staff can indicate how satisfied they are with the area’s hygiene. The facility manager can use these insights into facts and perception to ensure that the best possible office climate is achieved for the staff.

David Stillebroer
Director Product Management