Research suggests that workplace temperature has significant bearing on productivity
In such a time of economic austerity, it is no surprise that businesses around the world, and closer to home, are doing everything in their power to minimise costs wherever possible. We would say it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to come to this assertion but in an ironic twist of fate, the bods at a budding US space agency called NASA have recently published some figures that could give our start-ups a helping hand. According to our aeronautical friends, productivity is unduly affected for every degree the temperature in a workplace rises above the so-called ‘optimum temperature’ of 22ºC. And apparently, this productivity drop is even more dramatic when the heat soars above 30ºC. Now, before you accuse us of being a bit tongue-in-cheek with this, it’s worth bearing in mind the source of the data. It doesn’t get that much more authoritative than NASA at the end of the day, does it?
Indeed, the space agency’s study has been picked up by ventilation company Cosaf, which decided to conduct further research among its UK business client-base. It has found that productivity falls 3.6% for every degree above 22°C, and 4.7% for every degree over 30°C. Breaking it down by industry, Cosaf reveals that the optimum temperature for industrial processes is 17°C - 24°C. Meanwhile, performance for office workers apparently begins to dip once the thermometer starts climbing past the 21°C mark, with 25°C being the time to start panicking for our call centre managers.It is also suggested that cognitive performance falls significantly in higher temperatures, which seems to give new meaning to the expression ‘my brain is fried’.
Of course, coming from a provider of ventilation systems, you can see why these figures would be of particular interest. Conveniently, it goes on to reveal that effective air conditioning and temperature control is proven to reduce staff illness and have positive health and safety implications. And it has some encouraging news for SMEs that tend to balk at the price of installing state-of-the-art air con systems. The introduction of evaporative cooling systems (HVAC) is said to have made a huge – and cheaper – difference to businesses and budgets, and could help reduce absenteeism levels and improve productivity. Needless to say, Cosaf claims that other studies have proven the ineffectiveness of simply using air blowers or opening the windows in this regard. It therefore believes firms are creating false economies by not installing proper mechanisms from the offset.
"Companies that are put off by the apparent expense of cooling systems haven't done their research and will lose money hand-over-fist in the long run,” said Cosaf owner Mike Sullivan. Take this warning with a pinch of salt if you want, but it’s certainly left us feeling a bit hot under the collar.