The Perfect Office Temperature: Air Conditioning Truth Or Myth?

Turns out finding the perfect office temperature might not be as simple as we first thought.

It’s generally believed that the perfect office temperature is 22 degrees celsius. But it might not be that simple.

In fact, air conditioning is often a sore spot for working professionals, who find themselves either on the too hot or too cold side of the fence.

While this could be due to bad air conditioning maintenance, it’s likely there is no one magic number after all.

The reason 22℃ is favoured so widely by air conditioning experts is due to guidelines laid out by both the European and US industry peak bodies. They claim cognitive performances differs depending on temperature and performance peaks at 22℃.

The “Inverted U” Theory

This can be an expensive choice, but necessary for businesses to maintain optimal working performance.

However, new research conducted by the University of Sydney concluded things are not that simple.

They found evidence actually suggests that worker performance remains relatively stable across a broad range of acceptable temperatures, but then rapidly deteriorates once it gets too hot or too cold.

The “Extended U” Theory

The ideal temperature varies depending on the type of tasks being performed.

So it turns out that our brains can still be at their sharpest even if it’s not exactly 22℃. But that’s not the only reason why the magic temperature is a myth.

The existing theory focuses on “cognitive performance” but not “office productivity”. And these are two very different things.

The University of Sydney suggest “Performance” is a person’s ability to produce “goal-directed activity”. A job or task is often broken down into different performance components, such as memory, concentration, logical thinking, executive function and so on. “Productivity” is the extent to which an organisation is progressing towards its systemic goals, whether that be the amount of products they sell in a year, or the number of customers served within a specific period of time and how satisfied those customers are with the quality of service they received.

So, an air-conditioning temperature closer to the outdoor weather may be best. Even if aided by a desk fan, or contact cooling/heating device. This may save energy bills while maintaining high levels of workplace satisfaction and mental performance.

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