Taking the Temp

Researchers at Cornell University have found that the temperature of your office can affect your productivity. Cooler temperatures can cause employees to make more errors and could increase labor costs by 10%, the study shows. In fact, turning up the thermostat from 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit led to one team's typing errors to fall by 44% percent; typing output increased 150%.

I find this slightly counterintuitive. I always thought heat makes us slower and more relaxed, whereas colder temperatures can bring focus and clarity. How cold or warm is your office? Do you work better when you're warm? Focus better when you're cold? I just checked a small thermometer I keep clipped to my bag. Fast Company's at about 70 degrees right now.

[via FutureFile]

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5 Comments

  • Bump Engrind

    Heath, of course warmth makes people do better. Haven't you heard say that someone was really hot? That means they're really doing well or they look good. You don't say they look cold as a compliment. I don't even know what that means. The greatest cultures were created in hot climates... the greeks, italians, egyptians, sumerians, moors, etc. ... so the study makes sense to me. You look at the cold cultures ... the norwegians and canadians ... and what do you have? People that drink beer and stay indoors all the time.

  • mary hodder

    Hi Heath, haven't looked at the study you cite, and while I do like warm, and work very well in high temperatures, I wonder. There was a study once done in a factory where the lights were bright and then reduced significantly. Productivity went up 40%, and then slowly fell over about a year. Saved on electricity. Then, some other manager came along, and turned the lights back on/up, and productivity rose 40%. Then slowly fell over the course of a year. The study done afterwards showed that people became more productive for two reasons, one, change caused them the shift, which while it might be uncomfortable, causes people to pay attention more, and two, they felt like management paid attention to them, cared about what they were doing.

    I do really like warm, and I'm very productive at 85 degrees F. Below 70 degrees, I spend all my time trying to get warm by putting my hands underneath my laptop. Not terribly productive.

  • Joanna

    I cannot work when the room temp is above 70 degrees, I sweat and become very uncomfortable. I am dead in the water without a window to open. I'd be interested in the study criteria, because I know others like me.

  • Brian Ardinger

    It looks like this study is measuring productivity in terms of typing productivity. I'd imagine it's harder to type when your fingers are cold versus when you're warmed up. Not sure this theory would hold true when looking at other productivity measurments, but it's an interesting hypothesis.