What's the Ideal Setting for the Office Thermostat?

The ongoing battle over whether office thermostats are set too high or too low escalated in 2019 with the release of research published in the journal PLOS One. In an attempt to quantify whether temperature has an effect on mental performance among male and female employees, researchers conducted a series of cognitive tests on 550 German college students -- such as adding double-digit numbers, deciphering words from 10-letter jumbles, and solving other word problems -- in rooms with different thermostat settings ranging from 60 degrees to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (16.19 to 32.57 degrees Celsius). They found that women scored better on math and verbal tasks as temperature increased. The opposite was true for the male students.

The office comfort debate heats up:

  • For every increase of one degree Celsius, women got 1.75 percent more math questions correct and 1 percent more verbal questions correct. Conversely, men answered 0.6 percent fewer correctly in both categories each time the temperature rose by one degree Celsius.
  • Some have suggested that differing standards of office attire may affect how people react to workplace temperatures, especially in offices where men are required to wear suits or jackets but women have more flexibility to wear cooler clothing.
  • The same cannot be said about the results of the study. The college students were dressed alike, mostly in shorts and T-shirts, ruling out clothing as a reason why men and women seem to prefer different workplace temperatures.
More Info: Time magazine

Discussion Comments


I was always surprised when some women would wear sleeveless tops/dresses to work, knowing that the office temperature would be colder than the outside temperature.

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