A reader writes:
I work in a small office with about 10 people in our room. It’s on average about 80 degrees in the summer and gets incredibly stuffy in our ground floor office. Our one window is about 10 feet from the busiest street in the city, so there’s constant traffic and tourists gathering outside the window and making noise—this is why we can’t leave it wide open (we’ve experimented; the best we can do is crack it slightly before it becomes a distraction).
We have a split majority when it comes to the air. There are two people who prefer it warm and two people, including me, who prefer to keep it cooler and set the thermostat at 77 degrees. The others don’t care—they layer up or down depending on where it’s set.
We play a tug-of war with the air, with me and my coworker setting it at 77, and then a half hour later, the other two women turn it up to 82. The problem I see is that I’m already wearing airy skirts, tank tops and sandals (which they also wear)—I can’t take any more clothes off, but surely they can put on a jacket. It becomes unbearable in the afternoons, when the room becomes stuffy and warm. I’ve tried a fan, but it’s like a hairdryer, blowing hot air back at me.
Is there anything you can suggest? Perhaps a way to politely tell them to wear a jacket or bring a scarf? I don’t feel that 77 is an unreasonable temperature at all and actually prefer it much cooler, but know not everyone wants to work in an ice box!
This battle is being fought in offices all around the country (and probably the world).
I’m a staunch believer that it’s easier to get warm when you’re cold (by adding layers) than it is to cool off when you’re warm (presuming that your office doesn’t want you to strip naked), and so therefore the thermostat wars should err on the side of cooler. But there are equally staunch believers on the other side (except that they’re wrong).
You can certainly try politely saying, “We seem to have different internal thermostats, and I get uncomfortably hot when you turn the temperature up to 82. I’ve tried bringing in in a fan and wearing tank tops, and I’m still overheated. I know you get cold when we turn it lower, but I wonder if you’d be open to keeping a sweater here and seeing if that helps?”
But the thermostat wars have been being waged since the invention of the thermostat in the 1800s and I suspect are unsolvable. Has anyone ever found a way to resolve this to everyone’s satisfaction?