Temperature Tug-O-War

Your workplace is a melting pot. In an office setting, complete strangers come together for a common goal. To work effectively, you need to be comfortable at some base level. Since you’re working together, you need to get along. And in Winter, these needs come together in (at least) one place: the thermostat.

At our last company meeting, I gave everyone an update on where we are on getting certified with the Illinois Green Business Association (IGBA). As part of that update, I announced that we would start following the IGBA energy conservation requirement that includes a maximum temperature setting of 68 degrees during the day for running the furnace.

I would have had more smiles if I had started singing all of the songs from Barney. And I had actually given this some thought. There was another requirement I could have chosen to follow that would have limited use of personal heaters to areas that were not otherwise heated. This would have meant that if you want to run a heater, the furnace would be turned off. At least this way, staff could keep their heaters and a (nominally) comfortable temperature. Unfortunately, some of the work areas in this building were not designed as office space, and the building as a whole isn’t particularly well insulated. Will this save Taylor Studios money? It’s hard to tell. Personal heater use may go up.

The only other alternative would be to ban personal heaters and turn up the furnace. On the face of it, this could work, but then you run into the fact that people run at a wide range of temperatures. 72 degrees sounds warm to me, but not to Jackie at the next desk over. Do you turn up the furnace so that the coldest person is comfortable, and warm people like me are working in T-shirts in January? John across the room would love to keep it at 63 degrees. Then you can look at how efficiently your HVAC setup works. Does the temperature seem to plunge a minute after the furnace shuts off? Here at our offices, personal heaters and a moderate thermostat seem to offer the most comfort for the most people. Despite all this, I know the next time I stand up at a company meeting, I will be greeted warily, like I am the Greek government about to present new austerity measures to the Greek citizens.

Does this sound familiar to you? How has your company sided in the temperature tug-of-war?

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