In the United Kingdom, approximately 2 percent of office hours are wasted because of temperature, potentially costing the economy in excess of £13bn (nearly $21.6 billion) annually (assuming an average wage of £26,500 [$44,044], 29.84 million workers, and a 228-day work year), a recent survey by heating and air-conditioning specialist Andrews Sykes reveals.

In the poll of 2,000 office workers 18 to 60 years of age, Andrews Sykes found that less than a quarter find the temperature in their office comfortable, with more than a third reporting they take at least 10 min out of work each day because of temperature. Additionally:

  • Only 24 percent agreed the temperature in their office is ideal for working throughout the year.
  • Women reported wasting an average of 9 min trying to acclimate themselves to inadequate office conditions, while men reported wasting an average of 6.5 min.
  • Seventy percent of women and 44 percent of men reported having taken additional clothing to the office to keep warm, while 50 percent of women and 28 percent of men reported drinking excessive amounts of a hot beverage.
  • Nearly 10 percent of women reported taking a hot-water bottle into work.

Twenty-nine percent of the people surveyed estimated they spend 10 to 30 min each workday not working because of an uncomfortable office temperature, while 6 percent estimated they spend more than 30 min.

“Whether temperatures soar or plummet, unbearable office conditions can have a serious impact on employee health and well-being,” Helen Pedder, head of human resources for ClearSky HR, said. “Unfortunately, the law is left open to misinterpretation by simply stating that employers must provide a ‘reasonable’ workplace temperature.

“Until health and safety guidance provides clear and coherent requirements, there are various steps that an employer can take to prevent a dip in productivity and performance,” Pedder continued. “Relaxing dress-code requirements where appropriate and providing heating and/or cooling devices are effective methods that help to regulate thermal comfort.”

The survey also found:

  • Twenty-seven percent of women and 17 percent of men have complained to management about their office’s temperature.
  • Forty-eight percent of women and 31 percent of men have complained to a colleague about their office’s temperature.
  • Only 21 percent of women and 27 percent of men think the summer temperature in their office is ideal.
  • Only 19 percent of women and 31 percent of men think the winter temperature in their office is ideal.