I’m one of those annoying people that’s always cold—like, uncomfortably cold, which doesn’t do me any favours at the best of times, let alone in an office setting where it’s not unlikely for the air con to be on full blast.
It could be 30°C outside, but walk into TrainSrilanka HQ in the middle of the day and you’ll probably find me in a jacket, or better yet, a blanket, to stop myself from shivering (and I may or may not sneakily turn the AC off in the hope of no-one noticing).
No doubt you too are familiar with the ‘battle of the air con’ scenario—especially when you share an office with guys (biologically, males do run hotter due to body composition), but as this recent study suggests, the temperature in the office can affect more than just your comfort level.
New research published in the journal PLOS ONE, which looked at the differences in the effect of temperature on cognitive performance by gender, found that women tend to be more productive and perform better at higher temperatures, whereas men tend to work better in cooler temps.
The study was conducted in a controlled lab experiment involving 543 individuals who were asked to perform a set of comprehension tasks (math, verbal and cognitive reflection) all of which were subject to experimentally manipulated indoor temperatures.
The temperature varied between 16.19 to 32.57°C and in each session, participants were given the same set of tasks which were monetarily incentivised based on performance.
Results showed that females generally exhibit better cognitive performance at the warmer end of the temperature distribution while men work better at colder temperatures.
“Overall, our results suggest that gender is an important factor not only in determining the impact of temperature on comfort but also on productivity and cognitive performance,” researchers wrote.
“Given the relative effect sizes, our results suggest that in gender-balanced workplaces, temperatures should be set significantly higher than current standards.”
Feel free to share this article with your colleagues next time you’re feeling a little nippy at your desk!