Life

The great air conditioning debate is over: why women need to work in a warmer office

Posted by
Sarah Shaffi
Published
Women work better in warmer offices, study finds.

It’s time to turn down the air con and ditch the emergency office jumper.

It’s a familiar situation — outside it’s a hot summer’s day, in the office you’re sitting in your fluffiest jumper, trying to keep yourself from freezing while you work.

The gender battle over air conditioning in the office has been on since air conditioning was first installed in an office, we imagine, and if experience is anything to go by, women are losing.

Researchers have previously found that most office temperatures are set according to a decades-old algorithm that is based on male resting metabolic rates, which is puzzling in a world where many offices are now very mixed, or even female-dominated depending on the industry.

You may also like

The science behind the air-con war: why men and women can't agree on the same room temperature

Given that our discomfort levels haven’t yet led to an office culture change that allows us to give up our scarves, fingerless gloves and jumpers, something more is needed.

And that something more is a new scientific study which backs our desire to have the air con turned down.

A new study has shown that women’s brains actually work better in warmer temperatures, and the increase in female cognitive performance is larger than any decrease in male cognitive performance that comes with working somewhere slightly warmer.

Women work better in warmer offices, a study has found.
Women work better in warmer offices, a study has found.

The study in Germany involved giving people a set of tasks which were monetarily incentivised based on performance: adding up two five-digit numbers without using a calculator making as many German words as possible from a set of 10 letters, and answering three cognitive reflection questions in five minutes. The temperature during the sessions varied between 16.19 degrees and 32.57 degrees celsius.

The authors of the study, published in the journal PLOS One, said the results showed that “females generally exhibit better cognitive performance at the warmer end of the temperature distribution while men do better at colder temperatures”.

Want insider tips on happiness, health, relaxation and more? Sign up for the Stylist Loves Wellbeing email

They continued: “Ultimately, our results potentially raise the stakes for the battle of the thermostat, suggesting that it is not just about comfort, but also about cognitive performance and productivity.

“Given the relative effect sizes, our results suggest that in gender-balanced workplaces, temperatures should be set significantly higher than current standards.”

This article was originally published in May 2019.

Images: Getty

Topics

Share this article

Author

Sarah Shaffi

Recommended by Sarah Shaffi

Life

Why your air con system is sexist

... Hence, you're always freezing

Posted by
Stylist Team
Published
Life

Why men and women can't agree on the same room temperature

The science behind the air-con war.

Posted by
Stylist Team
Published
Careers

How hot does it have to get before you can legally go home from work?

As temperatures climb, it’s time to talk about your rights

Posted by
Kayleigh Dray
Published
Life

Breadcrumbing isn’t just a dating problem – it can affect you at work, too

Is your boss dropping career crumbs, but not following through?

Posted by
Sarah Shaffi
Published
Life

Do we need to give up sitting down for good?

Sitting down all day has been proven to damage our health. Stylist investigates whether it’s time to take a stand.

Posted by
Kate Faithfull-Williams
Published