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September 08, 2016

Summer productivity…despite the office temperature

When it is extremely hot outside, the conversation inside can range from discussing whether to wear shorts or bring a blanket to work, the speed of the fan, or introducing a tropical work schedule. 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. The standard temperatures (around 72 degrees) which almost every facility manager uses, are actually outdated. And in many cases they’re predicated on 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 set at 72 degrees, but the survey population is too small to be reliable. So temperature is an important element in the office, and together with CO2 and humidity, it has a clear effect on an organization’s productivity.

These are elements that the facility manager can use. 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 adjusted better to the employee’s wishes.

Lines at the amusement park
Yet to a certain extent, the employee’s temperature experience is also a perception. Someone who’s not enjoying his or her work will more readily be bothered by issues like the office temperature. That also makes facility managers responsible for perception management. It’s just like lining up in an amusement park. If I have to wait in line for twenty minutes before taking a ride, that’s irritating. But if I’m entertained while waiting, I’m updated on how long I still have to wait, and I had expected to wait for an hour, then I will experience the twenty minutes much more positively.

Controlling with facts and perception

The facility manager can tackle this divide between perception and reality by providing an insight into the office climate. Let the staff 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 the 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 convert these insights into facts and perception to ensure that the best possible office climate is achieved for the staff.

David Stillebroer
Director Product Management