My friend Rose had a dinner party on Sunday night. We had a delicious fall harvest dinner of stew and biscuits, all of which were wonderful. Soon, however, the conversation turned to work, and Rose said that her office had already turned the heat on for the year.
We all looked at her, somewhat surprised that an office building would turn the heat on before most homes do. But Rose said that her office goes out of their way to make sure that employees are comfortable throughout the year.
It all started, Rose said, when the company switched to an automatic thermostat that was controlled by the calendar. At a certain point in the spring, the heat was automatically switched off in favor of air conditioning, and it changed back at a preset date in the fall. The problem with this, of course, was that the weather doesn't always accurately reflect the time of year.
Not only were employees uncomfortable a lot of the time, but the managers noticed that work was actually suffering. After just one year of this, they switched to a different type of automatic thermostat. Rather than going by the time of the year, this one is based on the temperature outside, and works to keep the office at a comfortable 70 degrees.
After making the change, productivity in Rose's office increased. Rose said that she can always count on the same temperature in her office, which simplifies getting dressed for work in the morning, and makes for a very predictable environment.
I wish that more offices implemented this system. It certainly would make it more comfortable to go to work every day, and it might increase worker productivity too.