How home office temperature impacts focus and productivity

When working from the home office, you have the advantage of controlling your own office temperature. But do you know how temperature affects your focus and productivity? In this blog post, we will explore the science behind temperature and performance, and share some tips on how to keep your home office cool without air conditioning.

How temperature impacts focus and productivity

Why does temperature matter so much for our performance? Temperature affects our body’s ability to regulate its core temperature, which in turn affects our brain function. When we are too hot or too cold, our body must work harder to maintain its optimal temperature, which takes away resources from our cognitive processes.

When we are too hot, our blood vessels dilate and blood flow increases to the skin surface, which helps us cool down by sweating. However, this also reduces the blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain, which impairs our concentration, memory, and decision-making skills.

When we are too cold, our blood vessels constrict, and blood flow decreases to conserve heat. This also reduces the blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain, which affects our mood, alertness, and creativity.

In addition, temperature can influence our mood and motivation. Studies have shown that warmer temperatures can increase positive emotions, social interactions, and prosocial behaviors, while colder temperatures can increase negative emotions, aggression, and antisocial behaviors.

Therefore, keeping a comfortable temperature in your home office can help you stay focused, productive, and happy.

Home Office Advantage – You now control the temperature.

One of the benefits of working from home is that you can adjust the temperature to suit your preferences. Unlike in a shared office space, where you might have to deal with constant battles over the thermostat, you can set the temperature that makes you feel comfortable and productive.

But what is the ideal temperature for working from home?

According to a study by Cornell University, when office temperature is increased from 68 to 77℉ (20 to 25°C), errors can be expected to fall by 44%, while output can be expected to increase by an incredible 150%. The highest productivity level occurs around 71.6℉ (22°C).

Another study by Mirjam Muench found that natural daylight has a positive effect on alertness and cortisol levels, which are related to stress and energy. Compared to artificial light, daylight exposure can make you more alert in the evening and less sleepy at night.

So, if you want to optimize your focus and productivity, you should aim for a temperature around 71.6℉ (22°C) and a natural lighting source in your home office.

Do different people prefer different room temperatures?

While there is no universal optimal temperature for everyone, there are some factors that influence our individual preferences and comfort levels. These include:

» Age: Older people tend to feel colder than younger people, because they have lower metabolic rates and less body fat.

» Gender: Women tend to feel colder than men, because they have lower muscle mass and blood flow to the skin.

» Body type: People with higher body mass index (BMI) tend to feel warmer than people with lower BMI, because they have more insulation and heat production.

» Clothing: The type and amount of clothing we wear affects how we perceive and respond to temperature. Layers of clothing can help us adjust to different temperatures by adding or removing them as needed.

» Activity level: The more physically active we are, the more heat we generate and the warmer we feel. Conversely, the more sedentary we are, the less heat we generate and the colder we feel.

Therefore, it is important to consider these factors when choosing the temperature for your home office. You may also want to consult with other members of your household who share the same space or use a thermometer to measure the actual temperature of your room.

What is considered too hot or cold for office working?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as different people have different thresholds for cold tolerance. However, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the minimum recommended indoor temperature for healthy adults is 18°C (64°F). For older people or those with health conditions, the minimum recommended indoor temperature is 20°C (68°F). Below these temperatures, you may experience symptoms such as shivering, numbness, fatigue, and reduced concentration.

Similarly for hot, there is no definitive answer to this question, as different people have different thresholds for heat tolerance. However, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the maximum recommended indoor temperature for healthy adults is 26°C (79°F). Above this temperature, you may experience symptoms such as sweating, dehydration, headache, and reduced alertness.

Cold hands and fingers when working on a keyboard and mouse

One of the common complaints of working from home in cold weather is having cold hands and fingers when typing on a keyboard or using a mouse. This can affect your typing speed, accuracy, and comfort. Here are some tips on how to prevent or alleviate this problem:

Wear gloves or mittens:

You can wear gloves or mittens that are thin enough to allow you to type without compromising your dexterity. You can also use fingerless gloves or gloves with removable fingertips that let you expose your fingers when needed.

Use a hand warmer:

You can use a hand warmer device that generates heat by using electricity, battery, or chemical reaction. You can place it on your desk or hold it in your hands while working.

Use a heated keyboard or mouse:

You can use a keyboard or mouse that has a built-in heating element that warms up your hands while using them. You can adjust the temperature according to your preference.

Improve your blood circulation:

You can improve your blood circulation by doing some physical exercises before or during your work session. You can also massage your hands and fingers or shake.

How to keep the home office cool without air conditioning

If you live in a hot climate or during the summer months, you might find it hard to keep your home office cool without air conditioning. Air conditioning can be expensive, noisy, and bad for the environment. Here are some tips on how to cool down your home office naturally:

Use Fans

Fans can create a breeze that helps evaporate sweat and lower your body temperature. You can also place a bowl of ice or a wet cloth in front of the fan to create a cooler airflow.

Open Windows

Opening windows can create cross-ventilation that allows fresh air to circulate in your home office. However, you should avoid opening windows when the outside temperature is higher than the inside temperature or when the humidity is high.

Close Curtains

Closing curtains or blinds can block out direct sunlight and reduce heat gain in your home office. You can also use reflective or light-colored curtains or blinds to reflect heat away from your windows.

Use Plants

Plants can help cool down your home office by releasing moisture into the air through transpiration. They can also purify the air and improve your mood. Some of the best plants for cooling are ferns, palms, snake plants, and aloe vera.

Drink water

Drinking water can help you stay hydrated and regulate your body temperature. You should drink at least eight glasses of water per day, especially when it’s hot. You can also add ice cubes or slices of lemon or cucumber to your water for a refreshing drink.

Conclusion

Temperature is an important factor that affects your focus and productivity when working from home. By keeping your home office around 71.6℉ (22°C) and using natural lighting sources, you can optimise your performance and well-being. You can also use fans, windows, curtains, plants, and water to keep your home office cool alongside air conditioning.

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