How Temperature Affects Job Performance and Productivity
Several factors can directly affect our performance at work, and ambient temperature is among those that have the greatest impact. The climatic conditions can have a huge effect on our productivity, with the power to make the simplest of tasks seem complicated. This not only affects efficiency, but even the way we socialise and behave in our day-to-day lives. The temperature of the place in which a person works and their overall thermal comfort impacts mood, productivity and, even, lifestyle.
Are climate zones a factor?
Of course, they are. There a 5 major climate zones: tropical, arid/dry, temperate, continental and polar, each one having a major influence on the way that inhabitants’ lives are shaped. In colder northern regions for example, social activity, particularly in winter, is mostly restricted to indoor locations to avoid the biting cold. Since they are more used to lower temperatures, it has been found that they normally have harder times acclimatizing to higher temperatures heat. So, their indoor temperature requirements will be different from those of someone from a tropical climate, for example.
In more temperate regions, where the summer season is more evident, social activities tend to be outside for most of the year. Just take northern and central Spain, for example, residents spend much of the year outside, with only late autumn and early winter months keeping people indoors. Unlike those used to colder temperatures, people in temperate regions with hotter summers are more likely to feel the cold, thus increasing the indoor temperature.
That said, in these warm regions, time spent with friends and family will sometimes move inside once the summer temperatures hit their peak and outdoor activities frequently happen at night. Not only does this have an impact on social life but also on cultural structures such as business and opening hours, sleeping times, etc, as does the way that colder and even hotter regions go about their daily lives.
The Temperature Range is Key
Being in a comfortable environment, within a range where the body is not physically affected by heat or cold, is essential for social relationships, productivity at work, the enjoyment of family life, physical activities and even a good night’s rest to charge our batteries for tomorrow.
The temperature affects us in myriad small ways. The magic of a romantic candlelight dinner would soon disappear if you couldn’t take off your coat at the table. The biggest game of the season becomes a dull experience if the temperature of the court is so high that no one has the strength to cheer. The same goes for professional performance. A badly regulated office environment limits not only our mood and comfort, but also our productivity.
It doesn’t always take a huge adjustment. Just a few degrees higher or lower can make a substantial difference to the productivity of a workplace. Though it may seem a relatively small change, it can be the key between having a team that is comfortable, or one that isn’t going to be able to perform as required.
What Happens to our Bodies in Unsuitable Temperatures?
Temperatures that are too low directly affect our body. Who hasn’t woken up with stiff back and neck after sleeping in a room that’s too cold? For some, this discomfort lasts for the rest of the day and, in some cases, accumulates over time into a more serious ailment. Something similar happens with very high temperatures. Just think about those long summer nights where the heat or humidity make it impossible to sleep and our bodies can’t get the rest that they need.
Consequently, all these variations on the ideal temperature directly affect our body, mood, and even our ability to simply think. It can be harder to concentrate, more difficult to finish tasks on time and, because of the impact on mood, less likely that we will feel happy with the end result. So, it’s not only the ambient temperature we experience while we are at work that affects our performance, but how our day-to-day is influenced by it and its impact on us. Therefore adjusting the temperature to suit your needs when and where possible is essential.
Adjusting the Temperature to Suit the Seasons
In places where the seasons are prevalent, regulating the ambient temperature in the workplace is every bit as important as a chair that fulfils its ergonomic functions, correct lighting and a space wide enough that workers can stretch their legs when they need to.
Unfortunately, poorly conditioned office spaces are all too familiar, especially in the depth of winter or height of summer. Stifling temperatures in winter, because the heating is too high, are often matched by glacial conditions in summer, where the air conditioning is set to an uncomfortable low. It’s not uncommon that workers are to be seen wearing just a T-shirt in the office during the winter but with a jacket in the summer.
A poorly managed work environment is a frequent cause of skin complaints, colds and headaches, and other symptoms related to Sick Building Syndrome. The stark difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures and weather conditions can increase the risk of employees developing illnesses. Naturally, all of this impacts on the productivity.
For indoor environments in general, ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers, recommend a range from 68.5°F to 75°F (21°C to 24°C) in the winter, and from 75°F to 80.5°F (24°C to 27°C) in the summer.
Increasingly, this need to improve indoor environments applies to the home, especially that the number of people working at home has risen since the Covid pandemic began. Teleworking is part of the new normal, meaning people are spending more time indoors and more time in one room. This means that finding the sweet spot for thermal comfort has become more crucial in order to assist concentration, comfort and maintain productive environments.
For homes, and depending on the season, ASHRAE recommends selecting a temperature between the 67°F and 82°F (19°C and 27°C) for thermal comfort purposes.
There are similarities in what ASHRAE recommends for the different scenarios, and both should be approached with a sense of regard for your personal preferences and, in the case of the shared workspace, other people.
Ventilating the Space for Health and Energy Efficiency
It is always advisable to fully ventilate the living space at regular intervals or at least once a day. During the summer months, it is advisable to take advantage of the cooler temperatures of the morning so that is helps regulate the temperature of the house in a natural way before the temperatures begin to rise. Doing so not only allows the homeowner to replenish their home with fresh air but also potentially avoid using their air conditioning more than is necessary.
During the winter months, and depending on your location, ventilating the house can let precious heat escape rapidly. By ventilating key rooms in regular short bursts throughout the day, it’s enough time to renew indoor air without losing all of the heat and meaning heating systems or air conditioners won’t have to work harder to recover lost degrees.
In both cases, whether you’re using the air conditioning or the heating, it’s important not to wait for temperatures to reach their daily heat highs or lows. Whenever possible, turn them on before the house reaches its warmest or coolest moment, which ensures that the systems spend less energy bringing the air to the optimal ambient temperature. It also makes for a more gradual adjustment, which has a gentler and more natural effect as the body acclimatises.
Thanks to today’s leading technology, we can enjoy indoor comfort that facilitates productivity, creates positive working/living environments, and help optimize our usage of air conditioning systems. Something that you’ll find within the ranges of Hitachi Air Conditioner available for all manner of applications.
Sirair Air Conditioners for the Ideal Indoor Environment
In any indoor space, from our houses and offices to restaurants, shopping centres, entertainment facilities, gyms and schools, temperature regulation is a key aspect that influences people in all aspects of their lives.
Sirair helps generate and maintain comfortable environments no matter the indoor space.
Within Sirair, you’ll find a range of specialized technology, filters, controls, apps and modes that help users customize their indoors to their liking.