What is the Ideal Summer Temperature for a Commercial Space?

The temperature in your commercial space matters a lot. Employees depend on a comfortable work environment.  Customers and visitors are more likely to think favorably of your business if a desirable temperature is controlled. Ultimately, the temperature in your building impacts your business’ bottom line. Yet the optimal setting can be a challenge to find and nearly impossible to maintain. The tips in this article will help you achieve the best temperature settings for your workplace this summer, and fleshes out the impact it can have on your business.

So what is the best temperature setting for commercial spaces in the summer?

The short answer is: simply whatever makes the most people comfortable.

Striving towards an optimal setting requires surrendering to the idea that everyone will be completely satisfied with the same setting. After all, individuals vary greatly in their tolerance and preference when it comes to air temperature. First, remember that those that are unsatisfied tend to be the most vocal about it. Very rarely does an employee approach the Facility Manager to comment on how great the temperature setting in the building is! The goal is to appeal to the largest number of occupants. To get there, let’s start with something more proven and scientific.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers a wide range of acceptable temperatures ranging from 60-76 degrees Fahrenheit. Most often it makes sense to lean towards to warmer end of the spectrum during the summer. It costs less to cool, but more importantly occupant’s dress is more conducive to the higher setting. To get more specific, one study performed by the Berkeley National Laboratory is of particular interest. The experiment tested the effect of indoor air temperature on task performance in the office environment. The study concluded that a temperature between 71-72 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.

This comes with some caveats, however. The test groups were largely call centers, where productivity was easiest to measure. It is possible that the ideal setting varies by industry. For example, some theories suggest creative types perform better in warmer clients. Furthermore, what’s comfortable to someone one day might not be comfortable the very next.

Rather than spin in circles trying to keep everyone happy, the best approach might be to aim for a setting in the low 70’s and then consider how to empower occupants to have ownership of the indoor air temperature. The feeling of simply being able to influence the temperature is often enough to increase satisfaction and perceived comfort. The best way to go about this will vary by the size, layout, and function of the space.  Some creative ideas to consider are as follows:

  • Survey employees and welcome feedback about their comfort level in the office. When voices are heard it can work wonders towards satisfaction.
  • Similarly, encourage employees to speak up when they are uncomfortable. Communicate the appropriate channel by which employees should voice their discomfort.
  • Allow select staff to have access to the thermostat. This often works only in spaces with zone heating and cooling where a limited amount of space is affected.
  • Offer small circulating fans for employees to use, and/or bottles of cold water to drink.

Why does all this matter? Getting the right temperature setting is about more than comfort. As alluded to in the Berkeley study, employee productivity and customer satisfaction increase dramatically when environmental conditions are optimized. Achieving a desirable setting promotes three key areas:

Increased Performance – Employee productivity, accuracy, and efficiency increase when employees are comfortable. Too cold of temperatures discourage movement as muscles become more tense. If the temperature causes employees to shiver it can be a major distraction.

Strong Communication – Meetings tend to be shorter and more volatile in uncomfortable work conditions, which in turn hurts the quality of communication. This is bad news for meetings between employees, and perhaps even worse when it is with customers!

Higher Employee Morale – A consistently uncomfortable work environment leads to a lower employee morale and outlook. Whether too hot or too cold, bad tempers follow uncomfortable temperatures.  Similarly, customers will become less loyal over time if visiting your space is uncomfortable.

To summarize, getting that perfect summer temperature setting that appeals to everyone is a little like finding the proverbial  needle in a haystack. The best approach is to try to find a temperature setting that satisfies the widest range of occupants. Start with something in the low 70s and seek feedback. Giving employees an opportunity to speak up through clear channels goes a long ways towards their satisfaction. Get creative in offering ways for employees to gain comfort. It may seem unnecessary to care so much about fine-tuning, but the impact can be tremendous. Employee performance, communication, and morale are significantly impacted by the indoor air temperature. The perceptions customers and visitors have of your business will be partially shaped by how comfortable they are when inside your building. If you are having trouble achieving a setting that consistently delivers satisfaction then give Owens a call! We are here to help you operate a desirable and comfortable building that is enjoyable to work in and visit.

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