Do you keep a few sweaters tucked away at the office?

A lot of us actually dress in layers, ensuring we can weather the blistering North American summers as much as the blasting AC at the office.

In some workplaces, devious co-workers actually battle it out over the thermostat, surreptitiously adjusting the temp when no one is looking. Inevitably, they'll find it readjusted when their arch-nemesis finds a moment alone to toy with it.

Some of us are more affected than others. A new study shows that men are literally freezing their female coworkers out of the workplace.

And no, this isn't a glass ceiling discussion (although that's important and you should start reading about it here!).

Let me explain...

As it turns out, office temperatures are designed for men.

It's not a stereotype, I swear! Researchers at Maastricht University Medical Center in the The Netherlands released a report this summer that proves there's more to the debate over office temperatures than personal preference.

The indoor climate regulations we use today were devised in the 1960s, based on the metabolic rate of the average male, they say. However, that standard may overestimate the female metabolic rate by as much as 35%.

So just how much of a difference are we talking about? I mean, could it really be that bad?

Take, for example, the recommended temperature setting for government offices, at 69-73. While the recommended temperature for men falls within that range (71.6 as determined in an earlier study), the ideal workplace temperature for women is much higher, at 77.1.

We're keeping many offices a full 4 to 8 degrees colder than the ideal temperature for women.

So we should just crank the heat up, right?

Well, that earlier study I referenced above also looked at how non-ideal temperatures affect workers of both sexes. Those researchers from Texas Tech University found that while women higher levels of drowsiness and boredom than men at all temperatures, the men reported greater fatigue at higher temperature levels.

On the other hand, maybe you should feel incentivized to keep the women in your workplace comfortable by the greater good for society. After all, working mothers raise more successful daughters and empathetic sons.

Can you please everyone? It's a conundrum.

It's more than an issue of comfort, though; there's a real business benefit to paying attention to this. According to the study, "an accurate representation of thermal demand of all occupants leads to actual energy consumption predictions and real energy savings of buildings that are designed and operated by the buildings services community."

Published on: Aug 18, 2015
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