What is the perfect office temperature?

Chief operating officer at Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg has revealed that the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg likes to keep the temperature low in their offices. Zuckerberg believes that keeping the temperature at a chilly 15C helps to boost productivity in the office.

TIME magazine, who paid a visit to the Facebook’s Silicon Valley offices over the weekend, revealed that staff there actually kept jackets on the back of their chairs to ward off the cold.

Perfect Office Temperature

air conSpeaking recently on BBC 4 Radio 4’s Today Programme, Celia Donne, vice president of global operations at Regus – the world’s biggest office space provider – was asked if office temperature was enquired about by potential clientele seeking Regus office space.

“No not particularly, we set up out buildings at around 19 to 23 degrees, an ambient temperature that most people would find comfortable to work in,” she said.

When asked if there were some clientele who are particular in their office space temperatures, she said that there were, and of course they tailor for individual requirements, but the communal areas as you come into a Regus building stay at around 19C to 23C.

Clientele base their office temperature adjustments mostly on personal preference, with most not necessarily taking about their request as a means to boost productivity in the office, she said.

Commenting further, Ms Donne said if she set the temperature to 15 degrees in all their 1500 locations, a million people would leave their offices, quoting that in fact the legal minimum office temperature in the UK is 16 degrees, so that would be impossible to do here in the UK.

Minimum office temperature

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Lucy Kellaway, management columnist at the Financial Times believes we should set, “fiendishly cold” office temperatures. Speaking on BBC Radio 4, she said its comic that it’s happening at Facebook, saying one thing that’s been happening in offices recently is no one actually gets any work done due to cyber loafing, in other words actually spending all your time on Facebook.

The only way to stop this is to make people so uncomfortable, than they have no option than to actually do their work. Noting, that she tried to spend the whole day at work standing up, and spent no time on twitter at all that day, and believes the same thing applies to temperature.

Counter Intuitive?

It’s counter intuitive, you think that these cold temperatures would wake the brain up and get them going but actually it doesn’t.” BBC Radio 4 Today Programme host, Ross Atkins.

A study in 2006 by Helsinki University of Technology found that, “performance peaked in an office heated to around 22C,” while a month long 2004 study by Cornell University in New York found the optimal temperature to be even higher at 25C.

The Cornell study found workers typed 100% of the time at a 10% error rate at 25C, while at 20C the typing rate was 54% at a 25% error rate.

Speaking on the show, Ms Kellaway noted that the studies were conducted before the advent of the cyber loafing era, and were no longer relevant in today’s modern office environment. According to her, a very recent study from Kansas University found that the average time spent using online social media at work equated to between 60% and 80% of a working day.

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Sylvia Molina

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