Is There a Link Between Office Temperature and Worker Productivity?

A study at Cornell University has found that office workers in a warm environment are more productive than they are in colder spaces. The study was conducted by Alan Hedge, who is a professor of design and environmental analysis; he is also the director of Cornell’s Human Factors and Ergonomics Laboratory.

The study was conducted in Olrando, Florida at the headquarters of Insurance Office of America. Nine office workstations were outfitted with sensors that sampled the air temperature every 15 minutes. In addition to recording the temperature in the work space, they also monitored the amount of time the workers used the keyboard, and the amount of time spent correcting errors.

The results are a little surprising. At 66 degrees Fahrenheit (18.8 degrees Celsius) workers typed 54 percent of the time and with a 25 percent error rate. When the temperature was raised to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius), the workers were typing 100 percent of the time and with a paltry 10 percent error rate. From this data, it is clear that office temperature can have a drastic effect of worker output.

Of course, if you are in a cold climate, it may cost more to warm the facilities to these temperatures, but the incremental increase in heating costs, is far outweighed by the savings associated with increased worker productivity. Professor Hedge concluded that, on average, raising the temperature to the ideal zone saves employers $2 per hour per employee. If you multiply these savings across an entire corporation, you discover that the financial impact can be substantial.

More studies need to be conducted to properly isolate the ideal working temperature. Does this mean that companies seeking ultimate efficiency should pack up and head closer to the equator?

Comments are closed.