We’re enjoying warmer summers and climate forecasts suggest heatwaves may happen more frequently, so how does your office design and setup fare when it hots up?

A survey by Ricoh and Oxford Economics, entitled ‘The Economy of the People’, found 93% of executives are planning to spend more than 10% of their operating budget on an office refurbishment programme and other improvements in the facilities management category, and that includes controlling the workplace temperature.

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Overheating kills productivity

It’s money well spent as there is a proven link between being too hot and a dip in productivity. Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory collated the findings of 24 different studies about workplace comfort and found the perfect temperature to maximise creativity and productivity is 21C. On the flipside, negative effects on productivity are more pronounced and exacerbated when the temperature exceeds 25C.

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Stay cool & save money

An additional survey by Andrews Air Conditioning found four in five people are unhappy with their office temperature, with half having complained that they find their working environment too hot. The number crunchers even quantified the temperature grumbles, concluding that around 2% of office hours in the UK (or £13 billion a year) are wasted by workers arguing over the ideal workplace temperature.

Workplace temperature & the law

In the UK there is a legal requirement for employers to assess the situation if more than 10% of employees register a complaint about the heat. Despite what you might think, there is no law for minimum or maximum working temperatures, eg when it’s too cold or too hot to work. Health and safety laws do, however, state employers must keep the temperature at a comfortable level, and provide clean and fresh air.

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Top 5 tips for managing employee comfort

  • Install air conditioning that can be controlled on a zone-by-zone basis
  • Abandon strict dress codes for something more casual
  • Offer earlier starts and earlier finishes
  • Reposition desks to shady areas of the office
  • Buy desk top fans (but be mindful of trailing wires)