It’s That Time Of Year: Thermostat Wars Are Happening All Over

By Ana Veciana-Suarez
Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A recent study found that chillier temps actually affect women’s work, and not for the best. Put another way, women performed better in warmer temps. 

Tribune News Service

No, it’s not your imagination. The mercury may be inching its way up to summer, but our offices are stubbornly stuck in the Ice Age. That’s because lots of workplaces set the temperature to about 70 degrees based on a 1960s formula of men’s metabolic rates.

As a result, most women are forced to keep a cheap cardigan over their office chair and an old throw in a drawer. I know one worker, a paralegal, who has a portable heater under her desk. She claims it’s the only way to avoid frostbite on her toes.

The thermostat wars in the office are nothing new, and they’re as difficult to negotiate as a Middle East peace treaty. Finding an acceptable compromise may be the quintessential Catch-22 situation. Whatever the maintenance staff does, they’re sure to anger one group or the other. Of course it’s not just offices where the thermostat is set too low. Movie theaters, department stores and especially hospitals tend to the permanently Siberian.

For years I worked in a newsroom where one section was steamy enough for a good pore-cleaning facial while the cubicles on the other side were positively polar. Depending on the geographical location of your desk, either the women or the men were miserable. I homesteaded in the latitude of the Arctic. Most of us there kept an emergency-heat supply, usually a sweater or blanket that we could throw over our shoulders as frozen fingers grew too stiff to dance across the keyboard. When it got really bad, we just stepped outside to defrost in Miami’s humid heat.

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