Office Temperature Wars

Question: We have two employees who keep complaining about the temperature. One says it is too warm, one says it is too cold. It is a small office so there isn’t a way to allow them to sit in different areas. No one else complains or has an opinion either way. What can we do?

Answer: Having people in set areas for long periods of time can bring about several sticky issues about personal space and comfort. While some things such as what is displayed on a desk is easier to control, general conditions such as temperature or noise levels can be trickier. 

First thing…if employee safety or functionality is impacted by any workplace condition, you need to defer to that above anything else. For example, a server room may need to be kept at a low temperature to keep the equipment cool so the “cold” employee may still be cold.

In this case, I would find a happy-median temperature that most employees are comfortable with. Then allow the employees to flex their personal conditions to make them comfortable. For example, perhaps one can wear sweatshirts or jackets while the other is allowed short-sleeved tops. 

Another possibility is that one employee has a medical condition that makes regulating their body temperature difficult. While you do not need to make everyone else miserable with raising or lowering the temperature (that may not seem as “reasonable”), you could discuss other options such as dress code flexibility for allowing them to bring a personal space fan or heater into their area. 

Again, safety needs to take precedence, followed by operational needs and the comfort of other employees.

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