Just how warm is your office and are you losing employee performance?


The hotter an environment is, the worse the cognitive function is of both sexes, male and female. You could say what was not known was what an optimal temperature looks like and if this differed between males and females.

Research reveals that men perform best at cognitive tasks in cooler conditions but women show increased mental dexterity in warmer environments.

There is ample evidence that office environments are tuned to male biology. Office air conditioning is often set according to a 1960s formula based on the metabolism of a 40-year-old man who weighs 69 kg. Previous studies had suggested that the average woman was most comfortable at about 25C, 3C higher than for men.

The magic number seems to be, men’s cognitive function best performs at 22C and women’s at 25C. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as going into the office and cranking up the heat. A lot of people can be thrown off by the temperature change and others will simply malfunction.

25C for an office is actually too hot, where an optimal point would be to set the office temperature to 23C where both sexes can happily co-exist. Yes an office that is too warm is going to have some performance issues, you may even find employees falling asleep.

Industry standards require that 80 percent of a building’s occupants find the temperature acceptable at any given time. To reach this threshold, engineers and building managers usually use a formula called Predicted Percentage of Dissatisfied (or PPD). It was developed during the 1960s by Danish researcher P. Ole Fanger, based on experiments with about 1,300 students.

Predicted percent dissatisfied (PPD) is an index that predicts the percentage of thermally dissatisfied people who feel too cool or too warm, and is calculated from the predicted mean vote.

The formula takes in a number of variables: a building’s humidity, the movement of air within it, the amount of clothing people are wearing, and their metabolic rate (that is, the amount of heat produced by each person). It then uses these, along with some thermal physics equations and the survey data collected by Fanger, to predict what percentage of people will find a particular temperature satisfying.

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