If you work in an office building, then you have probably experienced the shivers (or sweat beads) that come along with its average indoor temperature. Being cold while working is so prevalent that you can order gear from Amazon to keep yourself from freezing during the day.
For those who can relate to the picture above and who’ve had a hard time convincing co-workers to turn up the office thermostat, a new study may support your complaints. According to findings published in PLOS ONE, women work better in warmer environments.
Researchers with the University of Southern California and WZB Berlin Social Science Center sought to examine the impact of temperature on cognitive performance and if gender was a factor in how one responds to temperature changes. The impact may seem subtle, but it’s real.
542 university students were recruited in Berlin, Germany as participants in the study and were set up with assignments to work on as part of the experiment. The temperature in their environment ranged between 61° and 91°F as they worked.
Females performed better at math and verbal tasks in warmer temperatures, while for men, the opposite was true. However, both genders found a sweet spot with average task scores when the temperature hovered in the mid-70 range.
A combination of electric heaters and air conditioning was used to regulate the temperature in the room. One of the study’s authors, Professor Tom Chang, pointed out that degree range didn’t have to be too high or too low:
“One of the most surprising things we learned is this isn’t about the extremes of temperature. It’s not like we’re getting to freezing or boiling hot. Even if you go from 60 to 75 degrees, which is a relatively normal temperature range, you still see a meaningful variation in performance.”
What does this mean? When women in the workplace speak up about things being too cold, it’s not their imaginations, and it’s about more than comfort. Maybe this study will help lead to less blankets and sweaters in the office? Or maybe more folks can work from home.
Are you always cold in your office? Do you believe your performance is affected when the temperatures are colder or warmer in your workplace?