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Employees' footwear, hr

Could bare feet help create the perfect office temperature?



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When it comes to the perfect office temperature, much research has been done. Studies have published recommended temperatures to optimise productivity, as well as issued advice regarding what clothes to wear to work. Unfortunately, it’s not unlikely that each of your staff members has a slightly different personal preference regarding the ideal temperature to work in, making it impossible to please everyone. Now, there might be a solution.

It’s all about the feet, say researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. Edward Arens and Stefano Schiavon have been conducting experiments where they focus solely on heating or cooling subjects’ feet, The Atlantic reports. They found that feet are extremely sensitive to temperature, yet footwear hasn’t gotten much attention when it comes to studying thermal comfort.

“Shoes haven’t gotten quite as much attention as clothing”, Arens told The Atlantic. He explained that until recently, all the available data was for men’s shoes with thick socks, because that’s what everyone at the office used to wear. Of course nowadays, a large amount of women in the workplace wear sandals, heels, and other footwear that doesn’t require any socks.

As it turns out, exposed feet offer a prime opportunity for personal heating or cooling devices. Tests with a personal foot warmer designed by Arens that radiates heat directly onto someone’s feet returned positive results. The foot warmers kept the subjects warm, even when the temperature in the room was decreased by 4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Another test revealed that a system that blows cool air at foot level is an extremely effective way of keeping people cool, especially if the subjects are wearing sandals.

Of course, heating or cooling your staff members at foot level is most effective when some skin is exposed, which does not apply to the average business man. Since allowing men to wear sandals might be considered a bit too casual, including loafers on the list of accepted footwear could be a compromise.

Another option is to have male employees take off their shoes and socks when sitting at their desk, but this could lead to unpleasant situations regarding body odour.

ALSO READ: Is dressing down the new office dress code?

Photo / 123RF  



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