Staying productive in the summer heat with the right temperature

by Alja Isakovic

It’s a fact: productivity suffers during summer. According to one summer survey, 20% of white-collar workers reported a decrease in productivity, a 19% dip in attendance, a 13% increase in project turnaround times, and a whooping 45% increase in self-reported distractedness. It’s hard to stay focused and productive when you’re daydream about your perfect exotic vacation!

Not too cold, not too hot

Vacations do come to an end though, so when you’re back at the office, it’s important to remember that your environment can also help you stay on task. We’re too easily tempted to crank up the air conditioning in hot summer days. However, a study has shown that we tend to make more errors when we’re in cold offices. When changing the temperature from chilly 68°F to 77°F (19°C to 25°C), the number of typing errors fell by 44% and typing output increased by 150%. Setting the AC to higher temperatures saves both energy and productivity!

On the other side, you certainly don’t want to transform your office into a laid-back vacation resort by allowing the temperatures to soar too high. A study discovered that we can only work at 91.1% of our maximum at temperature 86°F (30°C). The magic productivity zone for an office seems to be between 70°F and 75°F ( 21°C and 24°C).

Due to individual differences, it can be difficult to agree on the best temperature in a shared workplace. You can use the following chart from Grasshopper’s Summer Slump infografic as a quick guide. Just remember to be mindful of the needs of your co-workers, and dress according to your office setting.

What's the perfect office temperature for productivity?

Don’t forget the humidity!

It’s also worth remembering that humidity plays an important role in our perception of heat and overall thermal comfort. Apart from being bad for your health, relative humidity above 60% will make you feel warmer in summer than it really is. That’s because sweat can’t evaporate as quickly in humid air, essentially breaking down your body’s natural cooling mechanism. If you prefer a warmer office, don’t forget to keep an eye on humidity and try to keep it around the healthy 50% zone. You can lower the humidity with a dehumidifier or by using the dry mode on your AC.

And finally, good air quality will also make you feel better at the office. An AC in good condition can help you keep your VOC levels low. You can also get a breeze of fresh air by opening the windows early in the morning or late in the evening.