Turn Up the Heat!

There are all kinds of things that effect your employees’ productivity. Even seemingly minor details like the temperature in your office can have an impact. According to a recent article from Fast Company.com‘s Ron Friedman, adjusting the thermostat will yield more productive workers.

The temperature in the room is effecting employee productivity and collaboration rates. How did this revelation come to be? You can thank Campbell Soup Company for the insight. When marketing their soup, they found that it wasn’t about the flavor, packaging, price or even the brand – it was about the weather. Campbell found that soup sold more when weather conditions were windy, cold or damp. They created the Misery Index, which tracks weather patterns using meteorological data. Aha! This shows the perfect time to solicit soup to consumers. Well, if people buy more soup when it’s dreary, what do employees do at work when temperatures change?

Central air hasn’t exactly fixed the dilemma. In fact, sweating all winter and freezing all summer have become more of the norm. This is a costly situation. In order to find out how much is being spent on temperature adjustments at work, Cornell University conducted a study that involved tinkering with the thermostat in an insurance office.

When temperatures were low, employees committed 44% more errors and were less than half as productive as when temperatures were cozy. The drop in performance was costing employers 10% more per hour, per employee. When our body’s temperature drops, we expend energy keeping ourselves warm, making less energy available for concentration, inspiration and insight.

It’s also worth noting that a study reported in Science found that when people feel cold physically, they are also more likely to see others around them as less caring and less generous, aka they view others as cold. And when people are warm, they associate more with others around them. Also, a paper from researchers at UCLA shows that short exposures to warmth leads to employees reporting higher job satisfaction rates.

What links physical and mental warmth? Some say it’s the way we are built – the insular cortex (in the brain) lights up when temperature is sensed, as well as when people feel trust and empathy toward others. You could say that warmth equals trust. This association is age-old, as it helps to ensure survival. Babies cling to mothers for heat and protection, and that warmth is associated with affection.

We know that cold temperatures worsen productivity. What new research is showing is that it can also corrode the quality of our relationships. And this, ultimately is why office temperature matters.

Having employees that are productive and organized isn’t they key to success within your organization. They need to be engaged and feel like they are building meaningful relationships too. Temperature is pretty important in most settings, so why have we been ignoring it in the workplace? To read more about how temperature effects people in and out of the office, click here to read the full article.

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