Bodywork

Q:

What’s The Best Temperature for Productivity?

This probably isn't his optimal work environment.     Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A:Tell your cryophilic boss to go eat a snow cone. Most studies peg somewhere between 70 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit as the optimal temperature for productivity.

If that’s not exact enough for you, don’t worry. Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory wanted to find the single most productive degree, so they crunched data from 24 different office temperature-productivity studies to find it.  Performance is maximized, they determined, at 71 degrees Fahrenheit.

In other words, performance will continue to improve as the temperature rises until it hits 71 degrees. After that, they found productivity declines again, dropping off fairly rapidly as the temperature increases above 75 degrees.

It’s important to note, however, that most of the studies analyzed looked at data entry and call center jobs because researchers believe those jobs best provide objective, calculable measures of productivity. The greater the number of keystrokes and mouse clicks performed without error, or calls answered, the more productive the workers are, researchers reasoned.

Some researchers have suggested creative types work better on the higher end of that range, while slightly cool temperatures may “increase arousal and improve mental performance for less demanding types of work,” according to a 2010 study.

Also, many of those studies did not take into account other factors that could affect thermal comfort, such as clothing, and humidity. Euro-fashionistas who wear scarves every day, for example, may not freeze up when the temp drops below 70.

Bottom line: Perhaps your boss is into the Japanese energy-saving movement called “Warm Biz,” which asks businesses to set their heaters no higher than 68 degrees during the winter and urges workers to bundle up. Keeping temperatures at 68 would “basically have minimal effect (about 0.05 percent decrement) on performance,” according to a 2012 study. Crank that down any lower, however, and you could argue the extra work your boss gets out of you will pay for the heating bill. And that your boss is a cold-blooded jerk.

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