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The Effect of Temperature on Worker Efficiency

Just like in the home, what temperature to set the thermostat in a workplace to can be a contentious issue. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 states that employers must provide a “reasonable” temperature for their employees. The Health and Safety Executive’s Approved Code of Practice suggests a minimum temperature of 16°C is appropriate (or 13°C for workers carrying out strenuous manual labour).

But is there an ideal temperature to aim for? Although you’re unlikely to get absolutely everyone to agree, there is research that suggests that changing the temperature in your workplace can make your workers more efficient by increasing their productivity.

What is the ideal temperature?

According to a study performed by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Laboratory at Cornell University, picking the right temperature can have a marked difference on worker productivity. The study, carried out at the Insurance Office of America’s headquarters in Orlando, Florida, looked at the effects of temperatures ranging between 20-25°C on worker productivity.

They found that at 20°C workers were only 54% as productive as when the temperature was set to 25°C. They also found that the rate at which employees made errors decreased from 25% at the lower temperature to only 10% at the higher temperature.

Research performed by Helsinki University of Technology and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory backed up these findings. It found that there was a 2% decrease in productivity for every degree that the temperature rises above 25°C, suggesting that 25 degrees may indeed be the optimal temperature for worker efficiency.

Other considerations

Of course, there are other factors to consider when selecting the temperature for your workplace. As the Health and Safety Executive note, those involved in strenuous physical activity will generally need a lower temperature to remain comfortable. Higher temperatures can also have a negative effect on the efficiency of computers and other electronic equipment. It may also be necessary to provide different temperature zones in different areas of your premises, depending on the type of activities carried out there.

For all of these reasons, it is a good idea to seek advice from professional commercial air conditioning specialists who can advise you on the best technical solutions to match your individual requirements.

Total Environmental Kooling offer commercial air conditioning installation and maintenance throughout the UK. To find out more or to book a consultation call us now on 0117 952 3355.