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Thermostat Wars at Work

Dear Stephen, 

We’re all back at work, and I completely forgot this over the last three years, but every summer in my office, the thermostat wars begin as soon as the warm weather starts. 

I’m 36 years old - a marketing director of a furniture company in the Northeast, and a woman. Inevitably, temperature disagreements happen because men tend to run hot and women cold. My boss is a man who likes to keep the thermostat at 72 degrees. Other men in the office agree; some believe it should be even colder.

Because it’s summer and I’m dressing for warm outdoor temperatures, the air conditioning can be abrasive when I come into the office. To compensate for this, I, and all of my female colleagues keep extra coats, sweaters, and blankets at our desks so we can bundle up when we’re working.

I know I’m not the only one – people call it Women’s Winter on #TikTok and now on TV! I work in a traditional office setting with both private offices and an open office environment. However, this is common everywhere – I see women bundled up working at retail stores, #Starbucks - even when I go to restaurants, I see female patrons wearing an extra layer specifically for indoors. Ever gone to the movies? Notice how many women walk in with an extra jacket.

Women everywhere suffer from air conditioning all summer! We’re used to it, but it doesn’t mean we like it.

As for my office, I need your advice. My boss insists that 72 is a proper temperature, I prefer 75, and my women colleagues do too. My fingers turn blue, and I can barely feel them when I’m typing for extended periods! However, I feel like bringing this conversation up repeatedly is turning my boss against me. It seems like we have this discussion every summer! It can turn antagonistic, and I want to avoid that. I don’t want this to affect our professional relationship, and I don’t like to be considered the complainer of the office. Should I bring it up again or bundle up all summer?


Executive Eskimo


Dear Eskimo, 

Yes, it’s #WomensWinter here in the northern hemisphere! I hear it from my female friends in the office, and I see it first-hand. Blankets, scarves, you name it!

I tried to keep the solution as simple as possible, and I’ll share that story with you.

My office is primarily women. We keep the thermostat at 72 degrees - I personally find it very hot at 75. But with the way that the temperature fluctuates in different parts of the office, the fairest solution for us was not to just tell everyone to put on a sweater but to thoroughly examine where the A/C vents were and how they were regulated and then to purchase individual thermometers for every single desk in our office! They’re inexpensive, non-obtrusive, and sit right on the desk.

With a thermometer at every desk, you can’t regulate the temperature, but there’s no debate on how warm or cold it is because you know exactly what the temperature is. This way, it’s easy to determine the effects of the AC in the room, and I ask the maintenance crew to adjust the air vents accordingly. I even go so far as to move people around during the summer months, with people preferring warmer temperatures now placed in warmer parts of the office and vice versa. Productivity grew, and discussions about temperature eased off. 

By the way, studies show that, statistically, with warmer temperatures, productivity increases for most women and decreases for most men. So, since work is all about productivity, good bosses should try to adjust the environment accordingly! All companies have been spending a lot of time and money to get their employees to return to the office to begin with. Therefore it’s common sense they should be accommodating their employee’s temperature needs at this critical juncture in getting people back to work. 

As far as talking to your own boss, I doubt he is taking it personally that you’re voicing your opinion about the temperature. I have one suggestion, however, that will get him to change the temperature right away - Explain to him that since you’re finding it too uncomfortable coming to work (even with a sweater on), you’ve decided to return to hybrid working

Trust me when I tell you that that same day the temperature will be precisely where you want it, believe me. Good luck!