Does Warmth Make Us Less Productive?
The last time I worked in a place that was reasonably warm was January 2004. I hadn’t yet resigned my job as an administrative assistant for the Parks, Recreation & Cemeteries Department for the City of Henderson, Kentucky. My office was in a house on the grounds of one of the municipal cemeteries. It had been converted to office space when the groundskeeper retired, and my two co-workers and I had complete control of the thermostat in that three bedroom ranch. It was heaven.
These days thermostats in the workplace are just for show. And when you complain to the maintenance crew about how bloody cold it is, you’re lucky if they even take the time to roll their eyes at you before blowing you off.
At other jobs I was known to wear two or three layers to work all year long and still freeze, my hands so cold it hurt to scroll with my mouse. I know I’m not crazy, because I can name five coworkers right off the top of my head who have used space heaters under their desks. Plus, my proofreading predecessor left a couple of those emergency hand warmers in my file cabinet. If that’s not a terrible omen, I don’t know what is.
Bless her dear heart for thinking she wouldn’t need them at her new job.
Anyway, one time back in the day, I recall being in the women’s restroom with two fellow coworkers. The first was taking a little longer than usual to rinse the soap from her hands at the sink. “I’m not crazy,” she told the second. “This water is warm.”
The other woman stuck her hands under the faucet and said, “This water is downright hot! I didn’t know we had water heaters!” When I tried it out for myself, I estimated the water temperature to be a perfect 125° F/52° C—virtually unheard of in public or workplace restrooms.
The first woman quickly begged of us, “Please don’t complain to maintenance. I’ve been coming in here on my breaks to thaw.”
Photo credit: Aine D