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Are your female staff being left in the cold?

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As workforces get leaner, it is natural to see an increased focus on productivity. This brings us to the question – what is the best temperature for productivity? As it turns out, it may depend on the gender of the employee you’re asking with studies showing that women are comfortable at a temperature which is 2.5°C higher than men.

According to a survey by Insulation Express, almost a third of women (32%) have taken time off because they can’t stand the temperature at work – 24% due to the cold, 8% take time off because it was too warm.

Comparatively, only 8% of men have reported talking time off due to the office temperature – all of them doing so due to the heat.

Time Off Due To Temperature

 

This may be because almost half of men will change the temperature at work without telling their colleagues, with only a third of women doing the same – despite more women reporting that they are negatively affected by being too hot or too cold.

The difference in temperature preference along with secretly changing the temperature without telling colleagues are bound to cause workplace disputes. Almost half of workers surveyed (45%) reported experiencing tension at work because of the temperature.

In the UK, Londoners (35%) were the most likely to have arguments at work about the temperature, while Scotland (3%) saw the fewest workplace temperature disputes.

Regions Where Temperature Causes Friction

While the survey by Insulation Express was conducted in the UK, the team at Human Resources is sure the same happens in Asia – especially in Singapore and Malaysia where it’s scorching outside and freezing indoors.

Taking a quick look around the Human Resources office (or any office in Singapore and Malaysia) and you would notice that majority of the women are wearing a jacket or shawl while the bulk of the men are in their office shirts – or even in t-shirts for dress down Fridays. In fact, I am wearing a hoodie as I write this.

That said, there are exceptions to this, such as our intern Nabilah (female) who loves the cold, and our colleague on the design team (male) who is always seen in a hoodie.

The phenomenon of women being frozen out of air-conditioned workplaces may be due to the outdated aircon formulas the majority of workplaces still use.

Insulation Express noted that a 2016 study by the journal Nature Climate Change found that air con systems commonly used in offices and large buildings, still use a formula which was created in the 1960s. This formula was designed with the most common office workers in mind – forty year old men, weighing an average of 70 kg.

The study also found that the formula used in these forms on air con, overestimate average female metabolic rate by up to 35%. This means that many buildings with air con are unable to provide women with a comfortable setting in which to work.

Photo / 123RF
Infographics / provided

HR Masterclass from Human Resources magazine: High-level HR strategy training workshops
led by the world's most respected HR thought leaders & strategists.
Review the 2018 programme here »

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