Crank Up the AC: The Link Between Temperature And Workplace Efficiency

Extreme temperatures in the workplace can be a problem for employees, especially those in low-income jobs. During winter, many people in the UK often cut back on energy usage to save money, and similarly, workers may have to compromise on their comfort to cope with temperature extremes in their workplaces. Studies show that many employees experience discomfort and decreased productivity when exposed to excessively cold or hot conditions.

The impact of extreme temperatures on workers’ health and performance can be compared to a humanitarian crisis as it affects their well-being and ability to work effectively. Just like low-income families who struggle with high energy bills, employees in low-wage jobs may suffer the most in environments where temperature control is lacking or inadequate. This highlights the need for employers and policymakers to address the issue and provide solutions to mitigate the adverse effects on workers.

There is a growing demand for measures to improve working conditions and ensure thermal comfort in workplaces. Prioritising solutions that directly support employees struggling with extreme temperatures is essential to safeguard their health and productivity. As the debate on addressing the cost of living crisis continues, advocating for workplace policies that prioritise the well-being of workers becomes increasingly crucial to ensure that no employee suffers due to inadequate access to a comfortable work environment.


How Do Low Temperatures Affect Our Productivity And Work Quality?


Research conducted at Cornell University revealed that when temperatures dropped to around 20 degrees Celsius, employees made 44 per cent more errors and were half as productive compared to when temperatures were at a comfortable 25 degrees Celsius. This decrease in productivity is attributed to the distraction caused by cold temperatures, as the body expends more energy to keep warm rather than focusing on tasks.


How Do High Temperatures Affect Our Productivity And Work Quality?


Excessively high temperatures also impede work performance. The optimal office temperature for heightened productivity is between 22 and 25 degrees Celsius. Anything above or below this range leads to decreased efficiency, with each degree increase above the optimal range resulting in a 2 per cent decrease in productivity. High temperatures can induce lethargy, reduce concentration, and impair motor skills, as the body tries to conserve energy to cope with the heat.



How Can Businesses Combat The Effects Of Extreme Temperatures?


To ensure a comfortable workplace environment for employees, businesses can invest in efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems that can combat the negative effects of temperature extremes. Ducted air systems or wall-mounted split systems can provide both heating and cooling options, which can be adjusted as per the requirement. To prevent overheating, reflective materials can be installed on roofs that can regulate solar radiation and reduce the need for excessive air conditioning. Businesses can also use coatings that can minimise heat transmission into the buildings, improving thermal comfort and reducing energy consumption.

By investing in appropriate temperature control measures, businesses can enhance productivity and employee well-being while minimising operational costs.


How Can Employees Guard Themselves From Extreme Temperatures?


When dealing with extreme temperatures at work, employees can take proactive steps to enhance their comfort and productivity. In cold weather, dressing in layers can provide insulation and flexibility to adjust to changing temperatures indoors. Additionally, using personal heaters or heated blankets can offer targeted warmth without relying solely on central heating systems. Ensuring adequate hydration and consuming warm beverages can also help maintain internal body temperature.

In hot environments, staying hydrated and wearing lightweight, breathable clothing is crucial. Fans or portable air conditioning units can provide relief from excessive heat, and taking regular breaks in cooler areas and using cooling towels or ice packs can help regulate body temperature.

Maintaining open communication with employers about temperature concerns and advocating for adjustments in workplace climate control can contribute to a more comfortable and productive work environment for all employees.