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Too cold? Too hot? Let’s talk workplace temperatures

CEOs were asked: A mini-debate has sprung up online about what temperature to keep an office. How hot or cold do you keep yours, and have you changed this recently?
CEOs were asked: A mini-debate has sprung up online about what temperature to keep an office. How hot or cold do you keep yours, and have you changed this recently? Getty Images/iStockphoto

CEOs were asked: A mini-debate has sprung up online about what temperature to keep an office. How hot or cold do you keep yours, and have you changed this recently?

The key is to find a temperature that makes employees feel comfortable and in turn, increases productivity. However, it is nearly impossible to please everyone as preferences vary. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) recommends employers maintain workplace temperatures in the range of 68-76 degrees; we typically try to stay in the 70-73 range and encourage employees who find that temperature too cold to utilize sweaters or blankets so that they are content and get their work done efficiently.

Tony Argiz, chairman, CEO, Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra, LLC (MBAF)

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That is a big debate. We keep it around 70-72 degrees. Fortunately, we have two units in the office and while most of our staff and I are always cold, my husband Brett (and co-founder) is always hot. He can adjust his own area from the rest of us. I wear the sweaters in this family!

Jennifer Cramer, CEO, co-founder, The Spice Lab

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Generally speaking, we keep our office fairly cool, which comes in handy since our team is often on the go either collaborating in team meetings or coming back from site visits. Reports have shown that to keep people alert you want to keep it cold, but it’s important to keep the temperature at a level that creates a welcoming and inclusive environment for your team.

Adriana Jaegerman, senior principal, managing leader, Stantec

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Our Miami office only has two of us in a comparatively large area but gets strong direct sun, so it’s usually at 73 degrees. Our Vietnam office has nine people in a comparatively smaller area and everyone prefers it warmer, about 75 degrees. Both cities have very similar climates; I believe we Americans tend to like our offices a little cooler.

José E. Latour, founding partner, LatourLaw

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Our office has been hot. Unfortunately, we are in a building that is having major air-conditioner problems. Recently, we have been without air in the sweltering summer for a few days. I am just thankful that my team is passionate about the growth of minority businesses and we purchased fans, otherwise, I would have a mutiny on my hands.

Beatrice Louissaint, president, CEO, Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council

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My office is located in a WeWork building and it is always very cold — exactly the way I like my office to be.

Melissa Medina, president, eMerge

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The right temperature is the temperature at which this is a non-issue. The idea that a cooler office makes employees move faster and work harder is primitive. More likely, such manipulation will lower morale and increase distrust of management. Better to empower employees to regulate the temperature in each work zone, so long as the controls actually work.

John Quelch, vice provost, University of Miami Dean, Miami Business School and Leonard M. Miller University Professor

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As a shared office space provider, we want to provide the “Goldilocks environment” (not too hot or too cold) for our clients. We keep our Office Edge locations set at 73 degress and this seems to be comfortable for the majority of our clients and staff. Of course, there’s usually someone who wears a sweater for most of the day, and another who uses a small personal fan. But, considering this is shared office space, we seem to have a comfortable environment where most are satisfied and undistracted.

Kelly Ramsden, managing partner, Office Edge and Legal Edge

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Personally, I like a cool office. We keep the museum at 70 degrees and maintain humidity at approximately 52 percent. To extend the life of the art collection, especially paper and textiles, a lower temperature of 50 degrees is desired, but this is both unsustainable and uncomfortable for humans. For the care of collections, there are two critical points to monitor: Relative humidity (RH) and fluctuations in the environment. A high RH can produce mold, while a low RH will produce cracking in paintings and embrittlement to paper, wood and textiles. Fluctuations in both temperature and humidity also need to be monitored as significant changes may cause expansion and contraction of materials which can produce cracks on painting surfaces and wood materials, for example.

Chana Sheldon, executive director, MOCA

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