Keeping the indoor environment of your commercial building comfortable for your employees and customers is a fundamental part of your obligation to them. When many people are gathered in one place, it's all but impossible to ensure that the temperature will be set at a level that will please everybody. Variations from personal preferences in temperature are to be expected. However, in some cases, offices and retail establishments can mistakenly make the indoor work spaces much too cold or hot for most employees and customers to tolerate. Consider the following factors when deciding the best temperature for commercial building offices and work spaces.
What is the Best Temperature for Commercial Building Spaces?
The best answer to this question is: a temperature that keeps the most people possible comfortable and happy. You can expect indoor spaces to be air conditioned in the summer and heated in the winter, but finding a perfect temperature will be extremely difficult.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends a temperature range from 60 to 76 degrees. This is a good average range for most areas, but be prepared to respond to employees for whom these temperatures are too hot or too cold. Remember, too, that site-specific conditions could affect temperatures for certain individuals. Employees working near equipment that generates heat, in the path of outdoor breezes or near doorways, or in areas that are naturally cooler or warmer might not be able to appreciate the average temperatures in the rest of the building. It's also true that employees working in areas such as expansive warehouses, refrigerated units, or near commercial boilers should expect temperatures to be less than ideal.
How Temperature Affects Employees
The attempt to find the best temperature for commercial building spaces and work areas is driven by the effects that temperatures will have on employees and customers. The most common situation is that indoor temperatures are too cool because of air conditioning, but there can also be times when your indoor spaces could be too warm.
If your office or retail building is consistently too cold or too hot, you can expect problems such as:
- Decreased performance: Employee performance is likely to decrease if the work space is not comfortable. Cold temperatures make it more difficult to move because of the tension it creates in our muscles. Hot temperatures make people less likely to even want to move. Interactions in uncomfortable environments are likely to be shorter and perhaps even more volatile, reducing the amount and effectiveness of employee communications.
- Lowered morale: An uncomfortable working environment will affect employee morale and mood. Overly cool areas are likely to make employees feel withdrawn and less sociable. Overly hot areas can make people angry and irritated, with accompanying bad moods and short tempers.
Handling Uncomfortable Temperatures
- Ask for a temperature adjustment: Simply staying quiet and enduring the uncomfortable temperatures is a bad idea, as it can lead to decreased performance, resentment, and other negative effects. If employees are truly uncomfortable, they should be encouraged to ask for a temperature adjustment or change in their environment.
- Dress more warmly: In cooler spots, employees could wear sweaters, shawls, fingerless gloves, or heavier clothing to keep warmer.
- Take more breaks in more comfortable areas: Employees can take more quick breaks in areas that are more comfortable, such as cooling off in an air conditioned space or warming up a little in a stairwell or heated area.
- Sip appropriate drinks: A hot cup of coffee or cooling bottle of water can help employees maintain a more appropriate body temperature in areas that are otherwise overly cold or hot.
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