I once worked at a company housed in the second floor of an old mill building. You might be thinking “lovely renovated office space with high ceilings and tons of character.” You’d be wrong. The building was dirt-cheap chic and the only character it had was a homeless man who slept in the unoccupied first floor.
Our office space consisted of shoddily constructed half-walls and an eclectic mix of broken down desks, wobbly chairs—and, most important of all, space heaters. In winter, there’d be miniature snowdrifts on the window sill, and you could see your breath until 10 a.m. We never had temperature wars in that office. We just cranked the thermostat as high as it would go, and our space heaters, too.
Granted, ours was an extreme case. But recent IFMA research shows that complaints about the temperature top the list of common office grievances. Facilities managers say they get an almost equal number of complaints about the office being too hot or too cold.
This is a big deal because there’s a positive correlation between comfort and productivity. Unfortunately, it’s tough to keep everybody happy and comfortable all the time. As any facility manager will tell you, often the person complaining about the office being too hot is sitting right next to the person complaining about it being too cold.
Facility managers do the best they can, but when it’s not enough, people do what they have to do. They use space heaters (frowned upon because of the fire hazard), heating pads, personal fans, supplemental clothing and, in one case reported in the research, a small wading pool under the desk in which the worker could “paddle” his feet to cool them off.
Herman Miller has a sweet and sensible alternative that uses 90% less energy than space heaters. C2 climate control uses advanced thermal electric technology to provide heating and cooling in a single unit. Someday I’d like a C2 for my home office, but for now I use a foot warmer to stay warm. What’s your solution?