According to a study published in the latest edition of PLOS ONE, the temperature in an office can impact productivity, with men and women performing differently at colder and warmer temperatures. The study, authored by Tom Chang, Associate Professor of Finance and Business Economics at the USC Marshall School of Business, and Agne Kajakaite of the WZB Berlin Social Science Center in Germany, found that women performed better on math and verbal tasks at higher temperatures while the opposite was true for men. As temperatures increased, so did women’s performance on tasks. When temperatures were lowered, men performed better, although the relationship between temperature and men’s performance was less pronounced.Beyond comfort, the study showed that the impact of temperature on gender impacts productivity and cognitive performance.
To complete the study, 543 students participated in a laboratory experiment. In each session, room temperatures were set at increments ranging from 61 to 91. During each session, participants were required to complete different tasks dealing with math, verbal skills, and cognitive reflection. The study found that there was a meaningful relationship between room temperature and how well participants scored on math and verbal tasks. The study also showed temperature had no effect on either gender for the cognitive reflection portion of the study. Overall, men performed better when the room temperature was below 70 while women performed better when the room temperature was above 80. While the men’s performance dipped as temperatures were raised, the boost in performance by women was far more significant, suggesting that an office space of men and women should have much higher ambient readings than usual.
The full study can be found here.