When it comes to increasing productivity in the workplace, there isn't much that managers won't consider. Rewards programs, more frequent performance reviews and incentive programs are all popular methods used by companies to get the best output possible from their employees.
But there is one factor that may be working against your productivity goals that you might not have considered: the temperature inside your office. It's always a relief to walk into the workplace in the heat of summer and feel the welcoming blast of cold air, but is it possible to overdo the AC? As it turns out, the answer is yes.
Dropping temperatures correlate with dropping productivity
If you think that complaints about the air conditioning being too high in your office are superfluous and just signs that your employees are being crotchety, think again. Personal comfort aside, there may in fact be a direct relationship between how cold an office is and how productive its employees are.
A study from Cornell University found that raising the average temperature in an office just 9 degrees Fahrenheit – from 68 to 77 – correlated with a huge increase not just in productivity, but in the quality of the work being produced. The study revealed that typing errors in warmer offices were 44 percent less frequent than those on the colder end of the spectrum, while the balmier workplaces were producing 150 percent more work than the colder ones.
Why the cold shoulder?
If the benefits of keeping the office warmer have been demonstrated, why are U.S. businesses so obsessed with dropping the mercury? It turns out the answer is varied and complex. While some have pointed to the various biological differences between men and women that may contribute to the latter being colder more often, it's not a universally accepted explanation. Others argue that it's differences in wardrobe between men and women that may be contributing – after all, women tend to wear sleeveless, sheer or lightweight clothing in the summer, while men are more or less restricted to their pants-and-shirt combination.
There is speculation that this discrepancy may be the result of women holding significant roles in the workplace for far less time than men, ensuring that office conditions aren't optimized for this significant portion of the workforce.
Small-business owners may not even think to consider something as seemingly innocuous as office temperature. Fortunately, PEO companies can work with businesses to optimize HR solutions without having to support an in-house HR department.