Why men and women battle over the office temperature23 November 2015
It happens every summer. Offices turn on the air-conditioning and the gender battle over the temperature control begins. As it turns out, the argument to find the temperature ‘sweet spot’ is a lot more complex than summer dresses vs. suits.
A recent paper authored by Boris Kingma and Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt found that the formula to calculate the ‘optimal temperature’ for workers used a method developed in the 1960s and was based on the metabolic rate of a 40-year-old man weighing 70kg.
This would have been fair back then given men dominated the office scene, however women now make up for half the work force and have much slower metabolisms than their male colleagues.
The study states that women are generally smaller than men and have a higher percentage of fat cells than their male counterparts. Fat cells produce less heat than muscle cells, which partially explains why women tend to have lower metabolic rates than men.
According to Kingma, women are most comfortable at 25 degrees, while men prefer 22 degrees. So when you have men in suits with higher metabolisms, you get freezing female workers all year round.
The study points out that employees working at temperatures below their comfort level tend to make more errors and are less productive. Plus, the U.S. Energy Department estimates you can save 11 per cent on power bills by raising the temperature from 22 degrees to 25 degrees.
So, there you have it. The optimal solution to fixing the gender war on office climates: turn up the heat only a few notches and encourage men to take off their jackets and roll up their sleeves.
And if that’s still too hard, the authors have a solution to keep everyone happy: individualised micro-climatisation systems.