While we are currently feeling the chill from the ‘Beast from the East’ many people are asking;
“How cold is too cold to work?”
It is important to create the best working environment possible for employees and the office temperature is an important part of the design. This is especially difficult in open plan offices where the temperature is highly unlikely to please everyone, but creating the optimal temperature can increase productivity.
A study by Alan Hedge, professor of design and environmental analysis at Cornell University found that in a warmer office people made fewer mistakes as well as producing a higher output of work. The ideal temperature, according to the study, is around 22 degrees Celsius.
There is no legal minimal temperature required for offices, however HSE’s Approved Code of Practice suggests that the minimum temperature of a workplace should normally be at least 16 degrees Celsius.
Something that is rarely a problem in the UK is it being too hot! Some offices, especially ones in older buildings, can become uncomfortable when the temperatures rise.
There is no legal maximum temperature but heat should still be a consideration when designing your office.
“Employers should consult with employees or their representatives to establish sensible means to cope with high temperatures.”https://www.hse.gov.uk/temperature/law.htm
While you can’t please everyone, in the future we could be looking at personalised control with desks that have heating units and air conditioning.
Italian architect, Carlo Ratti has created an office space for Agnelli Foundation, Turin in which people could personalise their temperature and lighting via an app. Ratti hopes this will provide better comfort and also a reduction in energy costs.
Image of Carlo Rattis Agnelli Foundation, Turin. Photographed by Beppe Giardino