How hot can an office be?

In which the air-con wars begin.

Messy desk at work

The current hot topic of the office is the temperature. Not the fact that Summer seems to be trying to get a foothold here in England (and being as successful as Esperanto) and the mercury is rising slowly from cold to mild, but that we are now working at an ambient temperature of the Mediterranean. In fact here are the places on Earth that are currently hotter than the desk I’m sitting at:

Hot places on Earth

We are still waiting to break through the magical 26c barrier (or for my non-metric readers 78.8f) as the feeling is that it will be some watershed moment like when petrol (gasoline) passed the 99.9p per litre (errr…some dollars per gallon) level. Yet as we sit here boiling in our skins is there a limit to what temperature we can be made to work at?

According to the Governments ‘Elf ‘n’ Safety gurus:

“The temperature in workrooms should normally be at least 16 degrees Celsius unless much of the work involves severe physical effort in which case the temperature should be at least 13 degrees Celsius. These temperatures may not, however, ensure reasonable comfort, depending on other factors such as air movement and relative humidity.”
As sitting at a desk filling out spreadsheets can hardly count as severe physical effort (unlike trying to help people with their Excel related problems which does raise my heartbeat) then I should be looking at a slightly mild office space. Sitting in 25c is not mild, so what do the jobsworths at Whitehall have to say about the maximum an office can be?

“Where the temperature in a workroom would otherwise be uncomfortably high, for example because of hot processes or the design of the building, all reasonable steps should be taken to achieve a reasonably comfortable temperature.”
The old “reasonable” get out clause, because what I deem reasonable is another person’s crazy. While I am here sweating away in the furnace there are those around me putting on more layers because it is too cold. There lies a dilemma, increase the thermostat to help those who are cold (who can wrap up and keep warm) or pump up the heat to roast those who have no way of cooling down? I can’t take off my shirt in the office and sit in my pants so what can I do?

Fanblades coloured to make a rainbow effect
Make a rainbow fan?


Where a reasonably comfortable temperature cannot be achieved throughout a workroom, local cooling should be provided. In extremely hot weather fans and increased ventilation may be used instead of local cooling. So I have a fan (that has been coloured to provide a rainbow effect) but all that is doing is blowing slightly less hot air in my face.

Maybe there is a reason to being slow-boiled, maybe the management of the company are descended from fairytale witches and giants and plan to eat us all? The whole executive structure being cannibals would be a bit of surprise, not a huge one but still a surprise.

According to research from Cornell, Alma mater of Andrew Bernard:

Cornell University researchers conducted a study that involved tinkering with the thermostat of an insurance office. When temperatures were low (68 degrees, to be precise), employees committed 44% more errors and were less than half as productive as when temperatures were warm (a cozy 77 degrees). Source:
So maybe keeping employees in a human-sized terrarium is actually of benefit, I mean if you freeze them to death they are going to be less productive than when they are sweaty. Plus when they are cold you have to wear gloves and they make your fingers fatter and more likely to press the wrong key. By burning them managers also have the advantage of identifying the witches in their midst (although simply adding some scales at the door to find those that weigh the same as a duck will be more efficient).

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “In the Summertime.”

If it’s autumn or winter where you live, what are you most looking forward to doing next summer? If it’s spring or summer where you are, what has been the highlight of the season so far for you?


Author: geekergosum

Ah, so you worked out the riddle. You just needed to use dwarfish and the doors to Geek Ergo Sum opened. Or perhaps you just used Google. Either way you are here, on my little corner of the Internet.

5 thoughts on “How hot can an office be?”

    1. I’m currently in a bedroom with three fans pointed at me, as well as a mini fan on my computer. Still it is too warm for me. My biggest gripe is .that if you are cold you can add layers, but if you are hot there is not much you can do in an office environment…but the thermostat is always controlled by those who are feeling the chill

      Liked by 1 person

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