We’ve all been a part of the battle over the office thermostat. Some like it hot, some like it cold, and often hourly debates ensue with the air conditioner being turned on and off multiple times a day.
But as we work from home, it might help to remember that the right temperature is not just about comfort – it’s about your performance too. As multiple studies have shown, indoor temperatures can have a direct impact on work productivity, learning and well-being.
In fact, successful outcomes for routine tasks could be impacted by just a few degrees, according to research compiled by UAE cooling company Taqeef. The data, which draws on scientific and academic studies, presents stats that tell us why temperatures are serious business. A recent survey study published in Facilities Management Journal, for instance, revealed that nearly one in three workers lose productivity and are unable to focus and work efficiently on average between 10 and 30 minutes per day due to unsuitable AC temperatures.
These findings could be a useful tool for working and learning successfully at home as we self-isolate, says psychologist Dr Saliha Afridi, clinical psychologist at LightHouse Arabia, especially as a difference of a few degrees can have a significant impact on how optimally we function, how engaged we are, and how rested we feel. Saliha says while many of us discount the importance of the environment on our mood and activity, our environment, and the temperature in that environment, has a profound effect on productivity, our sleep and energy.
So the best temperature for mixed-gender places? While 24C is the optimal standard temperature for human occupancy and energy efficiency, a slightly cooler temperature of 22C works best to achieve the highest level of work productivity for men and children.
A study by Technical University of Denmark looked into the effects of HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) on student performance and found they work better in slightly colder environments, so it might help to keep this in mind for children learning from home.
Women, on the other hand, were found to have better mental agility at higher temperatures (26C), according to an experiment conducted by USC Marshall School of Business. More reason to ease up on the air con: when the temperature was over 26C, female performance increased by 27 per cent compared to temperature below 21C.
Don’t crank up the heat when you go to bed though – uninterrupted sleep is better achieved in cooler temperatures of 20C, says The American Sleep Association, because internal temperature drops while sleeping. The same range goes for your at-home workout – exercise is more effective at cooler temperatures, 20C-21C, say medical experts from Duke University.