Skip to main content

Temperature Wars are on the Rise

QDear Workplace Wonda,

There is a war going on in my office and it’s over the temperature of the thermostat.  How do I get staff to call a cease fire on the thermostat so that we can return to a period of peace?


Reluctant Soldier

A:  Dear Reluctant Soldier, 

Thermostat battles are not only causing a cold war at work, but according to a recent study, one third of couples fight for thermal control at home.  What is it about temperature that gets us so heated?   It comes down to comfort.  And control.

Mr. Workplace Wonda came up with a plan to control the temperature of our home that was so dastardly that even a fictional supervillain would be impressed.  After receiving a $700+ electric bill last summer (while the kids were home on summer break), he placed a thermostat control on both air conditioning units that could only be activated through a special code that Mr. Freeze, I mean, Mr. Workplace Wonda operates.   

Sounds like a great plan, right?  Well, not if the thermostat is set to the specific satisfaction level of one individual whose body temperature differs greatly from that of his co-homeowner based on his age, activity level, sex, and frankly, reproductive status!   Not to mention, said co-homeowner has not been given access to the special code!  

If fighting over the thermostat at home gets your temperature rising, why would the workplace be any different?  According to a survey of employees by CareerBuilder, it isn’t.  Nearly half of worker who responded to the survey say their office is either too hot or too cold and that temperature affects their productivity.   

It was supposed to be a covert operation.  A team of soldiers from the north were forming in the back of the office.  “Look soldier, we are burning up back here,” stated the military commander of Operation Hot Flash.  “Your mission is to get to the thermostat controls undetected and carefully turn it to 68 degrees.”  “You only have a meno-pause, so be quick!”

The air conditioner powered on with such force that the soldiers from the south took cover… underneath their sweatered shaw wraps. 

“Run soldier, run!” yelled the commander.   As the soldier was running to the back of the office, she looked over her shoulder.   She caught the eye of one of the enemy soldiers who mouthed with quivering lips, “Please... we will freeze to death.” 

Victory lasted long enough for the soldier’s body temperatures to return to a comfortable 98.6°F before the hum of the air conditioning unit went silent.  “Soldiers, the enemy turned up the temperature on the thermostat again,” yelled the commander. “Take cover… under your office table fans!  This war is NOT over!"

Ok, maybe this scenario is a little bit dramatic.  Workplace Wonda dramatic?  What?   Nevertheless, study after study shows that once peace-loving coworkers can go from hot to cold based on the direction of the thermostat arrow.

The following are a few tips that might encourage your office to cease fire and return to that period of peace you seek:

Call a Truce- Give up the covert operations and discuss a mutually agreeable temperature that everyone can live with.  Research shows that the highest productivity levels are when the office temperature is at 71.6.

Take a Breather- If you are feeling a chill in the office from the air conditioner, take a quick break outside and enjoy some sun and vitamin D. 

Have a Drink- And, I don’t mean a Hot Toddy…  Sipping on a hot or cold beverage can help warm or cool you down. 

Take Cover- Keep a light jacket or blanket in your office if you like a warmer temperature and a small desk fan if you like it on the cooler side. 

Comprise is key to secure a long peace treaty and prevent future temperature wars. 


Workplace Wonda


Mr. Freeze’s reign of temperature terror at home was thwarted when Workplace Wondawoman broke the code and took control of both home air conditioning units!   Just Sayin...


  1. One thing here at work get everyone a little fan for there desk. Here in our office that's what we have and everyone can have there own temperature set to there liking. Because it was a fight at first. Everyone's body temp is different. We all understand that. You can have DC order the broan it is a heater and a fan in one. It's little and on the floor out of the way. Hopefully this helps

  2. I've worked at two workplaces where the thermostat was an "issue" (and the reason it wasn't an issue at other workplaces is because employees weren't able to control it). So, any time employees can alter the temperatures to their liking, I imagine the chances of other workers being uncomfortable by that will be high.

    A big reason why the temperatures cause so much disagreement (in addition to the factors Wonda mentioned) is because the ceiling fans and heaters are located in different places throughout the office. So, if someone is sitting directly underneath the cooler, they're going to feel the coldness much more than someone whose desk is far away from it, and that person whose desk is far away from it is always going to want to lower the temperature, whereas the person sitting underneath the cooler just wants the constant bombardment of cold air to stop.

    If I were an office or building manager, I would leave the temperature locked at a fair temperature (like 71, as Wonda said) and let the employees adjust themselves to that, by bringing in their own fans or light sweaters, and let them all agree to complain about me if they wish, instead of having them "battle" and grow resentment against one another with these temperature wars.

    If, however, you have your own office, where the temperature affects only you, then, of course, I would leave that thermostat unlocked and let you alter it to your liking, since it affects only you. But if the temperature is going to affect others who may not agree or be comfortable with it, I, again, would choose to leave it locked.



Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Dress Code Policy: Searching for Answers

Q: Dear Workplace Wonda, I am a new employee and reviewed our handbook very closely to make sure I am following all the rules and policies. I have noticed that even though the dress code policy is very clear, a lot of people in other departments and divisions do not follow the guidelines. For example, last week on Friday, I noticed several employees wearing tank tops and thong type sandals. I asked my supervisor if I could wear these comfy options and was told “No” because they violate the dress code policy. Is there really a dress code? Or does it come down to who you know? Signed, Searching for Answers Dear Searching for Answers, A: It’s obvious if employees are wearing tank tops and flip flops (or thong sandals) to work, even on casual Friday, the dress code policy has failed! That is, unless you work for Wild Water Adventure Park. This is a dilemma that many employers face each year around this time. As soon as there is an inkling of temperatures hitting the 80’s, clothes sta

Monday Morning Moment #ChooseHappy

  Coming up with a Motivation Monday this week was difficult as it was on Monday that my Father was laid to rest. Goodbyes are never easy. It seems like I’ve had to do a few of those the past few years. Saying goodbye is a part of life. As you get older, those goodbyes seem to happen more often—at least in the physical sense. I came across this quote by Rumi that says, “Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul, there is no separation.” Think about that quote for a moment. Separation is only physical. No one or nothing, including death, can take away what you hold dear in your heart and soul. We have a treasure chest of experiences and memories to cherish long after something ends. Unfortunately, sometimes in life bad things happen. And when bad things happen we want to know, why. “Why me?” Well, why not you? If you are spiritual, you may believe these things happen for a reason and that it is a part of a bigger plan. Scientist

Holding My Breath Until I Get Answers- Addressing Employee Hygiene

Q : Dear Workplace Wonda, there is an employee who visits my office a couple of times a week. Each time he comes in, he has this unpleasant smell that stinks up the entire office. The odor is so bad that employees spray Febreze or turn on their scented candles to cover the smell. Some employees even complain of headaches! How do I address such an uncomfortable subject?    Signed, Holding My Breath Until I Get Answers   A: Dear Holding My Breath Until I Get Answers, Wow, you really are in a stinky, I mean, sticky situation! On one hand, you have employees screaming, " foul." On the other hand, you have an employee who is seemingly senseless when it comes to his own PepĂ© Le Pee-ew! It kind of reminds me of one of my favorite SpongeBob SquarePants episodes titled, "Something Smells." In the episode, SpongeBob decides to make a sundae, but doesn't have any ice cream. Instead, he uses onions, ketchup, and peanuts. When he goes out t