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Keeping office temperatures low could be costing governments and companies more than it saves, according to the results of a recent study of the effect of temperature on productivity by Alan Hedge, a professor in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis at Cornell University.

Hedge set up sensors in cubicles last January and February at the headquarters of Insurance Office of America in Orlando, Fla. He used data already gathered by the company on processing clerks' typing speed and proficiency. He found that typing mistakes increased 74 percent and typing output dropped 46 percent when office temperatures fell from 77 degrees to 69 degrees.

Hedge's conclusion probably will strike a chord with government office workers. He found that employers should keep offices at a steady temperature of 75 degrees for best results. Buildings often are cooled too much in warmer months, wasting energy and making employees uncomfortable, according to Hedge.

"It's a potential win-win situation" for employers, Hedge says. "You can reduce cooling loads in the buildings while improving performance."

In the December 2004 issue of Government Executive, Shawn Zeller explores how keeping it cold in the office can cause employees to do less work. Read the full story here: http://www.govexec.com/features/1204-01/1204-01newsanalysis1.htm.

 
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