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A survey suggests around 2% of office hours are wasted due to the temperature alone, potentially costing the UK economy more than £13bn annually. The survey also shows the extent of the divide between men and women when it comes to comfort with the office temperature.

One Poll surveyed 2,000 people on behalf of heating and ventilation specialists Andrews-Sykes, in a bid to discover how much the temperature affected workplace efficiency and output. It was found that less than a quarter of office workers find the temperature in their office comfortable, with more than a third suggesting they take at least 10 minutes out of work each day due to temperature alone.

  • Only 24% agreed that their office was an ideal temperature for working throughout the year
  • Women wasted an average of 33% more time (around 9 minutes, compared to 6.5) than men trying to acclimatise themselves to inadequate office conditions
  • 70% of women have needed to bring in additional clothing to the office to keep warm, and 50% resorted to excessive cups of tea, while fewer men; 44% and 28% respectively, needed a jumper or a hot drink
  • Surprisingly, nearly 10% of women have resorted to bringing in a hot water bottle to work!

The ramifications of this are larger than may be expected: 29% of people surveyed estimate they spend between 10 and 30 minutes each workday not working due to an uncomfortable office temperature.  A surprising 6% believe they spend more than half an hour each day not working well for this reason.

This means that an office of 100 people will have at least 8 hours wasted each day, due to the temperature alone. The full figure could be more like 18 hours – the equivalent of more than 2% of staff members never turning up to work.

Helen Pedder, head of HR for ClearSky HR, said: “Whether temperatures soar or plummet, unbearable office conditions can have a serious impact on employee health and well-being. Unfortunately the law is left open to misinterpretation by simply stating that employers must provide a ‘reasonable’ workplace temperature.

“Until health and safety guidance provides clear and coherent requirements, there are various steps that an employer can take to prevent a dip in productivity and performance. Relaxing dress code requirements where appropriate and providing heating and/or cooling devices are effective methods that help to regulate thermal comfort.”

Some further stats we found:

  • 27% of women have complained to management about the temperature, compared with 17% of men
  • 48% of women have complained to a colleague about the temperature, compared with 31% of men
  • 27% of men think the summer temperature in their office is ideal, compared to only 21% of women
  • 31% of men think the winter temperature in their office is ideal, compared to only 19% of women