Walk into most any office and you’ll likely see evidence that at least some of the people who work there aren’t pleased with the ambient temperature in the building. On a scorching hot summer day, you might find workers indoors who are wearing sweaters or even multiple layers. Others may appear to be perfectly comfortable in only shirtsleeves.
There’s a science attached to the human body’s ability to regulate temperature but essentially it points to the fact that it differs for most people. Variables such as weight, fitness, and gender can have an effect. So can age and diet. Carrying extra weight provides a level of insulation as does dense muscle tissue that forms when exercising. Muscle density is typically less for women, accounting for part of the difference for men and women. Additionally, hormones and thyroid activity also play a part.
People who are malnourished tend to be colder, primarily because their bodies lack the nutrients needed to effectively manage metabolism. And, as in most things, stress can have an impact, too. It can cause blood vessels to constrict, resulting in an overall sense of being cold.
Numerous studies have been done to determine the temperature that optimizes work performance and, as you might suspect, the results vary, too. One study concluded it was 72 degrees Fahrenheit, while another landed at 77 degrees.
All of that can result in temperature wars at the office, some of which can become contentious. Experts suggest that management remind employees that the typical person’s body will adapt to temperature differences over time. In addition, technology is evolving, allowing for the possibility of regulating the temperature in different zones. Until then, sweater up (or not) and make yourself comfortable!