Freezing in Your Cubicle? Study Finds Chilly Temps Could Affect Your Work

The battle over the thermostat rages on
Goved hands typing on laptop in cold office environment

It’s an age-old debate among coworkers that never seems to get resolved — the struggle over the office thermostat. (If you’ve got a space heater tucked under your desk right now, you know what we’re talking about.)

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But office temperature may not just be a matter of comfort. A recent study suggests that it could affect your performance, and women may have an argument for turning up the thermostat.

The study looked at 543 men and women who performed tests in math, verbal and cognitive reasoning in rooms of varying temperatures.

“If you look at the gender results, it found that the women actually performed better in both math and verbal tasks at the higher temperatures,” says family medicine physician Neha Vyas, MD, who did not take part in the study.

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And while men had a lower performance rate at the higher temperatures, researchers said the difference was not significant.

Ambient temperatures in offices were decided decades ago based on the metabolic rate of a 40-year-old man who weighs about 150 pounds, Dr. Vyas notes. But our modern workplaces are more diverse.

If you can’t get the thermostat turned up a bit, it might be beneficial to dress in layers. A cold workspace is also a good excuse to get up and get a little more movement in your day.

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“If you do feel cold all the time, just getting up and taking a quick walk will help increase your metabolic rate and may make you feel warmer,” she says.

However, it’s not always our gender that determines how we’re affected by temperature. If you’re dressing in layers and moving throughout the day and still feel cold, Dr. Vyas recommends visiting the doctor to make sure there isn’t an underlying medical condition that might be making you feel cold all the time.

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