“It’s a bit cold in here, isn’t it?”
This simple question might seem innocent on the surface. But these eight words can lead to anything from a seriously cold shoulder, to a flaming hot confrontation.
So if your instinct is to take cover under the desk whenever the thermostat is mentioned, then this article will help you learn how to deal with office temperature arguments. And I’ve broken it down into four easy steps, to help you keep your cool!
1. Check what the law says
Before you start inventing wild and wacky ideas for settling office temperature arguments, make sure you understand what the law requires you to do.
It would be easy if the law simply stated exactly what your workplace temperature should be, because this would likely solve most arguments. Unfortunately, if you live in the UK, then it doesn’t. In fact, the law is actually quite vague.
Here’s what we know:
“For workplaces where the activity is mainly sedentary, for example offices, the temperature should normally be at least 16 °C. If work involves physical effort it should be at least 13 °C (unless other laws require lower temperatures)”.
The generally accepted maximum temperature is thought to be around 30°C. Which gives us a very wide range. Still, it’s progress from where we were before, right?
2. Accept that you can’t please everybody
And on the subject of law, even the lawyers can’t agree. When it comes to beating office temperature arguments, Stanley P. Jaskiewicz, attorney at Spector Gadon & Rosen, PC, resorts to bringing his own personal climate control accessories.
He tells me: “As a person affected by battles between adjacent office occupants who are always ‘too hot or too cold’, I question whether anyone can actually ever successfully execute a strategy for dealing with, or preventing, arguments related to office temperature. While our attorneys regularly negotiate complex, large dollar business deals, we haven’t been able to negotiate a solution among ourselves, despite years of effort.”
Stanley’s personal solution is to buy second-hand jumpers, which he keeps in a handy draw by his desk. If the office is too cool, he simply pops one on – and because he doesn’t spend much on the clothes, they never seem to go missing!
3. Take the decision out of their hands
A totalitarian rule is a bad way to run your overall business. But it isn’t always a bad way to deal with office temperature arguments.
“We have a smart thermostat that sets a range for the temperature depending on time of day and outside temperature” says Jeff Rizzo, owner of Slumber Yard. “What my employees don’t know, however, is that I installed the companion mobile app on my iPhone so that I always have full control over the system. Since it’s been ‘out of our control’, we haven’t had a single conversation about the internal temperature.”
Jeff says that he tends to err on the side of making the office slightly colder. This is because it is easier to warm up than it is to cool down. But essentially, the method that is working for Jeff, is to remove the idea that they can change it completely. This helps employees forget about the thermostat so they can think about their work.
4. Give people the means to regulate their own personal climate
Do you remember when we mentioned Stanley and his personal office stash of warm clothing? Some employers recommend actually providing this as a company-wide solution.
“Don’t overthink things” advises Nate Masterson, HR Manager of Maple Holistics. “If there’s someone who’s constantly cold in the office, buy them a personal space heater. Likewise, if there’s someone who’s always warm, then simply get them a desk fan.”
Nate adds that if your budget allows, you could splash out on company-branded sweaters, and t-shirts, so that they can change into more comfortable clothing as and when they need to. Not only does this help people regulate their own personal climates, but it serves as nice internal brand reinforcement.
How do you settle office temperature arguments? Give me your ideas by leaving a quick comment below.