Workplace Temperature and Productivity: Warm Workers Are Productive Workers

Grainger Editorial Staff

Nobody likes a workspace that's too cold—and for good reason. Studies of workplace productivity have found that colder temperatures diminish worker effectiveness. Even small variations in temperature can make workers less productive across functions, a significant problem for a full office or warehouse.

In a CareerBuilder study, 53% of surveyed employees found themselves to be less productive when their work environment is too cold. When a majority of employees are uncomfortable it’s likely to have a significant impact on work.

The problem is not one to ignore. A similar study by Cornell University found that even at 68 degrees, “employees committed 44% more errors and were less than half as productive.” These errors, slowdowns, and productivity losses add up to a slower organization and lost revenue.

Different People, Different Temperatures

Finding the ideal temperature is often not as simple as bumping up the thermostat. First of all, not everyone wants the same temperature: People doing more active or strenuous work will prefer cooler temperatures than people who are moving around less. And two people who are doing the exact same work may be comfortable at different temperatures because of differences in metabolism or temperament. So there may not be a single temperature that will allow everyone to be at their best.

And there's another reason why just cranking up the thermostat might not be the right move. In many buildings — especially older buildings — the central heating system struggles to evenly distribute heat. You may have drafty north-facing areas that come up to temperature only when other parts of your building are far too warm.

Flexible Solutions

To heat things up and keep your people comfortable, whatever their temperature preferences are, consider these two basic ways of supplementing your existing heating system:

Electric Heaters

By installing a wall, ceiling or baseboard electric heater, you can create a permanent "microclimate" controlled by an independent thermostat. This can be a great way to deal with one room or area that is consistently colder than the rest of your workspace.

Unit heaters and other larger electric heaters can also effectively improve temperature control in larger, open spaces, like factories and warehouses.

Portable Heaters

Small personal heaters can also be an impactful approach. Portable heaters fit under workbenches and desks or on the shelf, and they can easily be moved around as necessary. Portable heaters take many shapes and have unique benefits, including small size, various controls and timing, and even silent operation. 

Portable heaters also allow individuals to control their own environment, preventing productivity-impeding discussions over the right setting each day. Those needing to change the temperature can use a supplied portable heater to warm up their space without affecting others. Moving your organization to portable heaters throughout the colder months can save money, time, and productivity.


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