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Unsuitable office temperatures cost time and productivity

Nearly a third of workers are losing productivity because their office temperature is unsuitable, a new survey reveals.

29% of workers questioned estimated they spend between 10 and 30 minutes each workday not working due to an uncomfortable office temperature, while 6% said they spend more than half an hour each day not working efficiently for this reason.

Office Temperature WarsThe results of the survey suggests that around 2% of office hours are wasted due to the temperature alone, say the research commissioners, potentially costing the UK economy more than £13 billion annually*.

The survey also shows the extent of the divide between men and women when it comes to comfort with the office temperature, with women suffering more, wasting an average of 33% more time (around 9 minutes, compared to 6.5) than men trying to acclimatise themselves to inadequate office conditions.

The survey also revealed:

  • Only 24% agreed that their office was an ideal temperature for working throughout the year.
  • 70% of women have needed to bring in additional clothing to the office to keep warm, and 50% resorted to excessive cups of tea, while fewer men; 44% and 28% respectively, needed a jumper or a hot drink.
  • Nearly 10% of women have resorted to bringing in a hot water bottle to work!

One poll surveyed 2,000 people in a bid to discover how much the temperature affected workplace efficiency and output. It was found that less than a quarter of office workers find the temperature in their office comfortable, with more than a third suggesting they take at least 10 minutes out of work each day due to temperature alone.

The ramifications of this are larger than may be expected, claims heating and ventilation specialists Andrews-Sykes, which conducted the survey. They calculate that an office of 100 people will have at least eight hours wasted each day, due to the temperature alone, and say the full figure could be more like 18 hours – the equivalent of more than 2% of staff members never turning up to work.

Helen Pedder, head of HR for ClearSky HR, said:

“Whether temperatures soar or plummet, unbearable office conditions can have a serious impact on employee health and well-being. Unfortunately the law is left open to misinterpretation by simply stating that employers must provide a ‘reasonable’ workplace temperature.

Peddler goes on to suggest that until health and safety guidance provides clear and coherent requirements, there are various steps that an employer can take to prevent a dip in productivity and performance. She suggests relaxing dress code requirements where appropriate and providing heating and/or cooling devices to regulate thermal comfort.

Some further statistics the survey revealed, include: 

  • 27% of women have complained to management about the temperature, compared with 17% of men
  • 48% of women have complained to a colleague about the temperature, compared with 31% of men
  • 27% of men think the summer temperature in their office is ideal, compared to only 21% of women
  • 31% of men think the winter temperature in their office is ideal, compared to only 19% of women

*Assuming an average wage of £26,500; 29.84m UK employees and a 228 day working year.

Check out Andrew Sykes for more information






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