How do you deal with the air conditioning wars in the office?

Posted on: June 20, 2014

Why is it that I have to wear more layers and thicker clothes to work in the summer than I do in the winter? Why is it that everyone always says ‘just throw on a jumper’? How can it be fair that us cold blooded people have to sit at our desk like the Michelin man when they are quite comfortable in their jeans and t-shirt? People often say, ‘it is easier to warm up than it is to cool down’. This is not true. As a cold bodied mortal myself I know that when I get cold (especially if there is an icy cold blast of air-con on my neck as there is now), I will be cold for the rest of the day until I get into bed and force my husband to spoon me to warm me up!

There is also the argument that being too hot is bad for productivity. People moan in the UK, a country that hardly ever gets warm weather that it is too hot to work. How on earth do they think people in hotter climates continue to work? The temperature here gets to 24 degrees and suddenly everyone is melting. In Spain if exceeds that on a daily basis but they still manage to hold down jobs. They aren’t falling asleep at their desks all day because it is ‘too hot’. Whilst I agree that it can be stuffy in an office, why not just open the windows? If you are lucky enough not to be in an office that had non-opening windows (like my last office), then fresh air is 100% better for both human health and the environment. Plus it has actually been proven that low temperatures are worse for productivity that higher ones. The UK government sets a minimum temperature for a workplace but no maximum. There must be a reason for this. In my previous job our air conditioning (which also worked as the heating) broke last winter. Temperatures were frequently below 11 degrees which made it impossible to work. I found myself standing over portable heaters instead of sitting working at my desk and when I was sitting at my desk, I had to have gloves on or else I could hardly move my fingers. Looking back we could have gone home as the law states that if the temperature does not reach above 16 degrees within an hour of being at work (this is for an office, it is 13 degrees for a warehouse environment) then you can go home.

But now I am left with dealing with the air conditioning wars. I am one of the opposing sides of the war itself (I am sat directly under the air-con. Why do the cold bodied people always end up the ones sitting directly under it!?), but I am also the person responsible for sorting out the war as the office manager. The only way forward I can think of is to block the thermostat so only certain people can change the temperature and agree on a suitable temperature for the office. 21 degrees is too low. We had it at 25 and it was just right but someone came along this morning and turned it down to 20!! Now I am sat here with my fleece on when it the beautiful summer outside.


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June 2014
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