Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Office Workers Spend 7 Minutes a Day Coping With the Heat

beat the heatIf you think it’s hot outside, cheer up. At least you’re not in Death Valley, the nation’s hottest spot, where temperatures top 130 degrees.

Then again, you could be practicing in Barrow, Alaska (population 4,300), the nation’s northernmost city, where the mercury dips below zero even in August.

No matter where you are, though, it’s a safe bet that as you’re reading this, half your employees think it’s too hot in the office – and a third of them will stretch their lunch breaks an extra 10 to 20 minutes to compensate for their misery.

Those are two findings from this survey of 2,000 employees in various occupations on the link between hot weather and productivity.

The poll shows that griping about the temperature is a popular office past-time. A majority said their work space was too hot in the summer. An even larger majority complained it was too cold in the winter. On average, workers spent seven minutes a day adjusting to the indoor climate, fiddling with the thermostat, or going outside for breaks.

Seven minutes might not sound like much, but over the course of a month it adds up to a couple of hours of down time.

The Perfect Thermostat Setting

So what is the ideal office temperature?

It seems there isn’t one. Cornell University recommends an office setting of 77 degrees. Helsinki University says 72, and the Chartered Institute of Building Surveyors says 68. All agree productivity drops to near zero when the temperature is below 60 or above 91 degrees.

Another finding: when it comes to comfort in the cubicle, clothes make all the difference. Half of respondents who have to dress formally year-round complained of being uncomfortable – and therefore less productive – when it’s hot. By contrast, close to 60 percent of those with relaxed dress codes said they were happy even on the hottest of days.

5 North Carolina Weather Records

Did you know the phrase “dog days” has nothing to do sleeping dogs or lazy summer afternoons? It refers to the time of year in late July when Sirius – the dog star – appears to rise just before the sun. The ancient Greeks and Romans believed this hot stretch brought illness, bad luck and catastrophe.

Here are some North Carolina meteorological milestones:

  1. The highest recorded temperature in the state was 110 degrees on August 21, 1983 in Fayetteville.
  2. The lowest was -34 degrees at Mount Mitchell on January 31, 1985.
  3. The largest snowfall from a single storm was 60 inches dumped in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in April 1987.
  4. The most precipitation in a year was 129.6 inches in Transylvania County in 1964.
  5. The driest spot for a year was Mount Airy, which had only 22 inches of precipitation in 1930.


About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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