CNN

Turn up office thermostats to improve women’s productivity, study suggests

May 23, 2019, 5:33 AM
Photo: Wikimedia Commons...
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

(CNN) — Women often complain that the office temperature is too low — but it’s not just comfort that’s at stake.

Researchers say women’s productivity may improve when the thermostat is set to warmer temperatures.

The new study, published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One, raises “the stakes for the battle of the thermostat.”

Previous research has found that most modern offices use climate control systems based on the metabolic rate of an average man, with the ideal temperature for women almost 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it is for men.

“People invest a lot in making sure their workers are comfortable and highly productive,” said Tom Chang, associate professor of finance and business economics at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.

“This study is saying even if you care only about money, or the performance of your workers, you may want to crank up the temperature in your office buildings,” added Chang, the lead author of the study, in a press statement by the University of Southern California.

Lab experiment

In this latest study, women scored better on math and verbal tests when the thermostat was set to higher temperatures, according to the paper. Men saw the opposite results although the study said that these were less pronounced and not statistically significant.

Some 543 students participated in a lab experiment which involved testing them on a set of math, verbal and cognitive reflection problems. The experiments were carried out in Berlin.

The tests took place in rooms at various temperatures between 16.19 degrees Celsius (roughly 61 degrees Fahrenheit) to 32.57 degrees Celsius (roughly 91 degrees Fahrenheit).

For the math test students were asked to complete addition without a calculator, the verbal test involved coming up with as many German words as possible from ten given letters and the cognitive reflection test was made up of questions.

A relationship was found between the room’s temperature and scores on the math and verbal tests although test outcomes for both sexes on cognitive reflection were not affected by temperature.

For example, upping the temperature by one-degree Celsius was linked with an 1.76% increase in the number of math questions solved correctly by women, the study found. This is a “statistically highly significant result,” said study co-author Agne Kajackaite, head of a research group at the Social Science Center (WZB) in Berlin, in an email.

On the other hand, men submitted 0.63% fewer correct answers at this temperature, a finding which the study called “small and statistically insignificant.”

“It’s been documented that women like warmer indoor temperatures than men–but the idea until now has been that it’s a matter of personal preference,” Chang said.

“What we found is it’s not just whether you feel comfortable or not, but that your performance on things that matter — in math and verbal dimensions, and how hard you try — is affected by temperature.”

Chang said that one of the study’s surprising finds was that “this isn’t about the extremes of temperature.”

“Even if you go from 60 to 75 degrees, which is a relatively normal temperature range, you still see a meaningful variation in performance.” said Chang.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Today’s Top Stories

CNN

People leave Field's shopping centre, after Danish police said they received reports of shooting, i...
Kim Norgaard, Pierre Meilhan and Jorge Engels, CNN

Several people killed in Copenhagen mall shooting, police say

shooting at a mall in Copenhagen has left several people dead, local police said Sunday.
1 day ago
Joseph Petito, father of Gabby Petito, speaks during a news conference on Tuesday, September 28, 20...
Jennifer Henderson, CNN

Florida judge allows lawsuit filed by Gabby Petito’s parents against Brian Laundrie’s parents to proceed

A lawsuit filed by Gabby Petito's parents will move forward, a Florida judge ruled Thursday. The lawsuit is against the parents of Brian Laundrie.
4 days ago
Immigration activists rally outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC on April 26. Photo credi...
Tierney Sneed and Priscilla Alvarez, CNN

Supreme Court says Biden can end Trump-era ‘Remain in Mexico’ immigration policy

The Supreme Court on Thursday gave President Joe Biden the green light to end the controversial "Remain in Mexico" immigration policy.
4 days ago
Justice Stephen Breyer and President Joe Biden....
Ariane de Vogue, CNN Supreme Court Reporter

Breyer makes it official: He’s leaving the Supreme Court on Thursday at noon

In a letter to President Joe Biden, Breyer said it had been his "great honor" to participate as a judge in the "effort to maintain our Constitution and the Rule of Law."
5 days ago
Image of the new summer treat: Ketchup-flavored popsicles (Photo courtesy of French's)...
Zoe Sottile, CNN

The newest, weirdest summer treat is a ketchup-flavored popsicle

A Canadian ketchup brand has launched an unusual twist on a popular summer treat: Ketchup-flavored popsicles.
7 days ago
...
Tim Lister, Julia Kesaieva, Salma Abdelaziz, Pierre Bairin and Jeevan Ravindran, CNN

Russian missiles hit Kyiv as G7 summit begins in Europe

G7 summit begins in Germany, as Russia hits Kyiv with a series of missile attacks.
8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Turn up office thermostats to improve women’s productivity, study suggests