If you want your workers to be more productive, your best bet is to turn up the heat, researchers say. It turns out that in addition to raising workplace whining levels, chilly offices inspire less accuracy and lowered work output.
A recent study by Cornell University examined the effects of different temperatures on workers. Researchers examined productivity at an insurance office when the thermostat was set at various temperatures. They found that employees committed more errors at a lower temperature (68 degrees) than at a warmer one (77 degrees) — a whopping 44 percent more errors, in fact.
In addition, Ron Friedman at FastCompany writes, “Cold employees weren’t just uncomfortable, they were distracted. The drop in performance was costing employers 10 percent more per hour, per employee. Which makes sense. When our body’s temperature drops, we expend energy keeping ourselves warm, making less energy available for concentration, inspiration, and insight.”
Researchers at Science magazine also found that colder temperatures affect interpersonal relationships, causing people to perceive each other as emotionally cold when they were physically chilly. Warm temperatures, on the other hand, made people feel more open and to perceive others as being more like them.
The explanation, scientists say, lies in the physical structure of the brain. Our empathy centers are located in the cerebral cortex, right alongside the part of the brain that senses temperature. So when we’re warm on the outside, we’re much more likely to feel that our colleagues are warm on the inside.
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