Oh Come on, Y’all it’s Freezing! (4 min read)
As you sip your eggnog and settle in to spend the holidays with friends and loved ones, we are sure you will be glad for some time away from the office regardless of its climate. It may also be nice to take a quick break from all the speculation around the current interest rate fueled, cold weather housing slowdown. ‘Tis true that the residential settlement space may be a bit chilly at present so don your scarves, earmuffs, and fluffy coats and warm up a bit by reading about one of the hottest and longest running office debates going...at what temperature should one set an office thermostat?
Some like it hot, some like it cold. If you really think about it, if it were 70 degrees outside most people would be wearing shorts, enjoying the beautiful weather. However, in an office setting, the same temperature may have certain people bundled up in the sweater their grandmother knitted them while contemplating the pros and cons of starting a small garbage can fire to keep their hands warm! What is going on here?
It often takes a great force to drive a wedge between coworkers and friends. Few forces are more contentious than “The Thermostat Debate.” Alas, some may deem this topic trivial and think it has no place among the important discussions of business and the economy, however, providing employees with a comfortable or uncomfortable work environment can actually have huge effects on an organization’s bottom line.
In a CBE Occupant Survey over 39% of respondents indicated that they were dissatisfied with the temperature in their office building. This was the second highest of all complaints (following only privacy concerns). This makes sense, whether your fingers and toes are numb or your sweating through your dress shirt, both can cause adverse repercussions on your motivation, focus, and productivity. Unlike lighting, chairs, décor, or other office accoutrements that can be customized to individuals’ preferences, the overall temperature is something we all must share.
Traditionally, The (OSHA) states that 68-76 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal office temperature, but individual opinions on that matter can swing drastically from the high 50’s all the way up to the low 80’s.
Famously, according to a Business News Daily article, Mark Zuckerburg, suspected by some as a potential cyborg, keeps the Facebook HQ office thermostat at 59℉. A lesser-known figure, Matthew Briggs of Briggs Acquisitions, said that his office is intentionally kept at 65℉ to increase employee productivity and concentration. “We give away company-branded sweater vests as a resolution if people are cold,” he said. “I can attest we aren’t the only finance-based company who follows this policy.” Many office temperature standards arose from a time of mostly all male office environments featuring the insulated qualities of suits and ties. However, over the last half century, the number of women populating office environments has fortunately skyrocketed, and, especially in more recent years, many office dress codes have become more and more casual.
Is there a reason behind this temperature perception disparity? According to an AHC Health News article “Why are women colder than men?”, the answer is women typically have a lower metabolic rate…While everyone has the same internal body temperature of approximately 98.6 degrees, men tend to feel warmer because on average they have more muscle mass and generate more body heat. “Since women have less muscle mass and a lower metabolism compared to men, it makes sense they might feel colder in a room,” explains Dr. Edmund Fernandez, a family physician at Aurora Family Medicine in Slinger, Wisconsin. In fact, previous studies have shown women prefer a room temperature of 77 degrees while men are more comfortable at 72 degrees.
To give one example close to home to which many abroad may also relate, the otherwise close-knit team at Anderson|Biro is not immune to this debate and many tongue-in-cheek arguments have raged around our water coolers within both of our offices. At one office, we were able to track a temperature issue down to a building air duct problem.
It seems that our office building has had its floors carved up a few times over the years and divided into different sized spaces and back again, unintentionally leaving the vents and heating system in a bit of a hodgepodge. At some point in the past, some incredibly coldish person requested that all air vents be shut off within the duct work that ran to some parts of our now present office. This was all completely unbeknownst to us. Due to this previous tenant’s vent tinkering, we found that half our office would be freezing with team members cranking up the heat while the other half was boiling and trying to crank it down. For years a thermostat war went back and forth with one person sneaking over to turn the dial up only to have another push it back down. Once a breaking point was finally reached the building management was contacted and the maintenance man crawled into the ceiling to discover and correct the air flow issue and peace was restored to The Land.
With the modern push towards home offices and work from home, where each employee is king over their own environment, it is even more important for employers to consider the broader state of their office’s comfort. If you’ve ever spoken to someone that has put in day after day of work within an office that is either sweltering or freezing it is important to them and can have huge impacts on their productivity and satisfaction with their job. Seasonally adjusting the dress code to help mitigate temperature differences can help, as well as providing an opportunity to invest in some warm company branded merch! Investing in some quality space heaters is generally far more affordable than alternative windowless air conditioners (most office building windows don’t open), though they do exist. If your office has large fluctuations between hot areas or cold areas, then facilitating the moving around of workstations might also provide a rather affordable and easy compromise.
While simple, seemingly innocuous tiffs like the temperature of the office can easily be pushed aside and ignored, it can also be a time to show employees how much you care and consider them. As demonstrated in the OBE survey, nearly 40% of employees are greatly concerned with this topic and align vehemently on one side or the other. Working towards finding reasonable compromises can make the office a far friendly work environment for all. In essence, if you hope to return Joy to the World as It’s Starting to look a lot like Christmas, then you may need to consider Decking the Halls with space heaters or cranking down the heat before frosty melts, or else your employees might be saying I’ll be “working from” Home for Christmas and for the foreseeable future!
From the team at Anderson|Biro Executive Search, we wish you and yours Happy Holidays and may there be peace on earth and also at the Thermostat in the New Year!
Anderson|Biro is a full-service, Executive Search firm dedicated to the Financial Services sector around the country. We source talent to service all aspects of the Land Title Insurance, Settlement, and Appraisal industries. We offer quality solutions for clients in these primary fields and beyond. Our candidates are screened for specific industry experience, outstanding track records, and values that complement your mission and culture. We have also built successful partnerships with leading Homebuilders, iBuyers, Fintech, Servicers, Law Firms, Real Estate Brokerages, and Lenders with direct or indirect stakes around the real estate closing table.