The UK is suffering the coldest March since 1963 and few would believe that British Summer Time is due to begin on Sunday with the cold spell set to continue into April.

As many staff arrived at work this morning with the artic weather upper most on their minds, conversations would have quickly moved to one of the most common complaints – is the office temperature too cold, signaling the battle of the thermostat to begin.  So how cold is cold??

Regulations specify that the temperature during working hours in all workplaces inside buildings must be ‘reasonable’. Guidance as to what this means is set out in a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) approved code of practice which suggests a minimum temperature of 16ºC. These are only guideline temperatures, however. Essentially an employer’s duty is to determine what a reasonable temperature is in particular circumstances.

In the UK the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers recommends an office temperature of 20ºC but research findings would suggest that this is still below the optimum level for productivity. The Helsinki University of Technology found in their studies that performance peaked in an office heated to around 22ºC.

Based on this evidence, business owners should be fixing the thermostat to 20C to move the topic of conversation away from the office temperature, if nothing else.

By Bruce Ramshaw

Principal Consultant

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