Overuse of air conditioning hurts office productivity

A study found temperatures in the low 70s reduce worker performance.

September 01, 2016 |

Pixabay Public Domain

Setting the air conditioning too high in an office is not only irresponsible from an energy use standpoint, it also degrades employee productivity.

There is strong data to back that premise. The director of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Laboratory at Cornell University pointed to a study that found offices with temperatures in the low 70s reduced the output of employees and led to increased mistakes.

The study measured the number of keystrokes employees typed in an office. In a 78F environment, workers produced more than twice as many keystrokes as those in a 70-degree environment. Productivity rose along with temperature in a linear fashion into the high 70s. It began to drop when temperatures reached the mid-80s.

The cold is distracting, with people doing things like rubbing their hands together for warmth. This issue may be impacted by the increased popularity of lighter, more casual wear in the office. De facto cooling temperature standards of 68F to 72F were established in the 1960s when business suits were the dominant office attire.

Overlay Init