Air conditioning preferences in B.C. workplaces often cause tensions to boil over between employees, a BC Hydro report says, and it may have more to do with male and female anatomy than originally thought.
Roughly one-quarter of British Columbians surveyed by BC Hydro said they have either argued with a co-worker over the office temperature or witnessed a disagreement between co-workers, the Crown corporation said in a news release Thursday.
Another two-thirds of office workers said they aren’t allowed to adjust the thermostat themselves, and instead have to ask permission to do so from management.
Sixty per cent of respondents said their office is often too cold in the summer, making it difficult to concentrate on work – a feeling shared twice as much among women than men.
Nearly 60 per cent of women also said they use a blanket or wear layers to deal with chilly offices, while 15 per cent reported using a space heater at their desk to stay warm.
BC Hydro said the results suggest that many office temperature-control systems are based on a “decades-old thermal comfort formula” that was designed around the male metabolic rate.
Data collected across the province shows thermostats tend to be set as low as 20 C, which is three to four degrees cooler than what is recommended and can lead to wasted electricity and higher costs, the report said.
“Conflicts between employees over the A/C may seem harmless, but office relationships and productivity can suffer if arguments escalate into a full-blown cold war.”
Commercial buildings should be between 23 C to 26 C in the summer, and air conditioning should be turned off when employees go home for the day. Air conditioning systems should also complement the office layout, which can be tested through balancing air ducts every now and again.