Office thermostat battles are common — some tips for dialing them down

WASHINGTON — If it seems as if the people in your office are constantly squabbling over the temperature, a new survey indicates you’re far from alone.

A survey by CareerBuilder shows that one in five American workers have argued with a colleague about the temperature of the office, and almost as many — 18 percent — have changed the temperature during the winter without telling anyone.

“It’s impossible to change the thermostat to something that pleases everybody,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resource officer at CareerBuilder.

“But what you can do is look at what employees want and need to be productive and accommodate where you can.”

That might be easier said than done. The numbers show some serious polarization on the subject: While 23 percent of the workers surveyed said their offices were too cold, 25 percent they were too hot.

The gender gap makes the problem worse. Only 13 percent of men said they were too cold at work, while 28 percent said they were too hot. Among women, 31 percent were too cold, 22 percent too hot.

More than peace might be at stake, the survey finds.

More than half of the workers surveyed, 53 percent, said a too-cold office has a negative effect on their productivity; 71 percent said the same goes for when the office is too warm.

Again, there’s a difference between the sexes: 58 percent of women are affected by cold, versus 47 percent of men. Seventy four percent of women are affected by hot environments, compared with 68 percent of men.

The solution? CareerBuilder suggests discussing the temperature issue with your co-workers, and advises bosses to tweak the thermostat every couple of days until everyone’s reasonably happy.

Bosses also can provide space heaters and/or fans for workers who sit under vents and may be facing different temperatures than everyone else, and can make sure the windows are well-insulated so that as many workers as possible are experiencing the same temperature.

The survey was conducted in August and September. A sample of 3,321 full-time workers in various industries and of different company sizes were polled.

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