how can we solve our office’s thermostat war?

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?

{ 378 comments… read them below }

  1. anon*

    It helps to put a bag of ice behind the fan. Even better if it’s free from the break room fridge.

    If you happen to be next to the window, you can buy a portable A/C that vents out the window and is easy to install in almost any window type.

    1. Student*

      Liquid nitrogen or dry ice are also good options if you have them available. Sometimes you can get dry ice leftovers from butchers or grocery stores.

      1. monologue*

        you’re joking right? Dry ice is dangerously cold and generates CO2 which can suffocate you if there isn’t enough ventilation. Liquid nitrogen is really dangerously cold. You’ll get burned if you spill it or stick your hand in it by mistake.

  2. LBK*

    Appeal to a reasonable manager who agrees on erring on the side of too cold, then get some kind of lockbox so people can’t touch it. We can’t even control the thermostat in our office and that seems to dramatically reduce the complaints about the temperature – there’s maybe 4-5 days a year where we have to get facilities to come unlock the thermostat and change the setting, but for the most part people just accept it.

    1. JMegan*

      Yep, lockbox. And make a firm rule that the temperature will only be adjusted when it varies by X degrees from whatever you decide is the normal. It’s a bit draconian, but better than having people adjusting it all day long, or harrassing the office manager (or whoever has the key to the lockbox) to do it for them. There will be some grumbling, but people really will adjust once they learn that a) the temperature is always the same, and b) they can’t change it by grumbling.

      FWIW, 77 degrees (25C for us metric types) seems on the warm side to me – I’d be absolutely cooking at 82! (28C). Isn’t “ambient” room temp generally considered to be around 73F/23C?

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          +1. Sometimes my office is so cold that I need to put gloves on or sit on my hands. Which makes it awfully hard to use the computer, which is an awful lot of how I get work done. I always wonder who needs it THAT cold to be happy.

          1. Ethyl*

            It’s not really about who needs it that cold to be happy, but about the fact that you’re trying to heat/cool a large building, and some parts of it will be hotter or cooler depending on things like windows, how often the door to the outside is opened, etc. I wish people would believe that the building isn’t cold AT them.

          2. Kate*

            Sounds miserable, you might be like me, in an office that gets inordinately cold relative to the rest of the building. (Or maybe you work with loons.) Are you crafty at all? I knit a pair of fingerless gloves for computer work when it’s too cold. Not sure if that would fly in all offices, but at least in mine, my coworkers think they’re adorable. And if you’re not crafty you could probably buy some cute ones off Etsy.

            1. A Minion*

              I bought a cheap pair at Wally World (they were $1.00) and just cut the tips off the fingers. Not as cute, I know, but serviceable. And when they start to fray around the cuts, I can just get another pair. No craftiness required! :)

              1. Sasha LeTour*

                My husband figured out that he should do that after he lost a pair of the pre-cut fingerless gloves from American Apparel that cost 14x as much as last about the same length of time. I’m all for making your own solutions, especially if it saves money!

            2. Liz*

              Ditto. I’m also working on a lap rug (could have done with it this summer: I have to keep going outside to defrost).

        2. Turanga Leela*

          This raises a good point. If there’s an office policy on heating, you may also want to have an office policy on space heaters. Space heaters are great if you have your own office, but if you share space, they become one more front in the thermostat wars.

          1. LAI*

            I’ve had this problem too in the winter. I share an office and didn’t initially realize that my space heater was warming up the entire room (I was still cold!). I remember someone on AAM once suggested a heating pad on the chair though – warms the individual with less impact on the air. Maybe the OP can suggest that the company invest in some heating pads as a work expense?

            1. BethRA*

              YOu can get heated, fingerless gloves that are powered via the usb ports on your computers:

              Fans can also be effective at distributing/dispersing pockets of cold or hot air. I used to sit right next to the a/c unit in my office and would FREEZE whenever it was on, even though my coworker across the room still felt warm. Set up a fan to pull that cold air away from me an towards the rest of the room and we all felt happier.

        3. penny*

          Me too! And now the people who were to earn last week are too cold. Well imagine how i feel since I’m always cold! It’s 100 degrees outside but u have to dress for winter year round. I’m outside in this heat walking around to thaw out.

        4. George*

          If you are cold when the thermostat is 77, you are the problem. It is not only non-productive to have an internal temperature that high, it is also indicative of a health problem with you.

      1. Joline*

        At an old job our office once made it up to 27C because the thermostat was in an interior office and the guy left and locked his door. I called our construction/maintenance manager and he came, unlocked the office, turned down the temperature, and then spent the next bit flipping the thermostat to the opposite side of the same wall so it’d be in a shared hallway. He said it was ridiculous to expect people to work in that temperature.

      2. Heather*

        I find it hard to believe anyone can be unbearably cold at 77 F but fine at 82 F. Yes I know I’m going to get a lot of replies to prove it but 5 degrees F? Besides the OP isn’t saying she wants the thermostat to 60 F – she’s fine lowering it by 5 degrees F so a) she’s compromised and b) they should compromise too.

        I fear the only way this can change is if you are really obnoxious about setting it to 77 F. Also maybe the people who are cold need space heaters.

        1. CAA*

          What’s far more likely is that the thermostat says it’s 82, but the desks of the people who are cold are actually right under the air blower, so they’re at 70.

            1. Kerry*

              Yep, at my office we resolved it (kind of) by moving desks around until everyone was in the right microclimate.

          1. Laura*

            This. This is a really fruitful thing to look at. I’m happy if you don’t turn the heat on until it drops below 68, and I’d rather you turn the AC on if it gets above 73 or so. I have coworkers who want it warmer, and I deal.

            But it helps that I now have a cubicle directly under the AC vent. And my team lead switched offices from one that got too much cold air to one that is just right for him and is much happier. Sometimes it’s just about seeing whether a couple swaps can help – if you like it hot, sitting under the AC vent is torture. And five degrees can make a lot of difference in how often the AC is on.

          2. Anonsie*

            Dingdingding. Our thermostat here is often set to 80-85 but no one dares go without a sweater because it’s actually quite chilly.

          3. Peep!*

            EXACTLY. I mean, 77 is still too high for me…. but in my last office, I was right under the air blower so my desk area was 66 degrees, even though the temp was set at 72 or 75. I had a space heater with a temperature read-out thing so I knew how miserable I was. I needed that heater plus pants and a large sweater all the time!

        2. Traveler*

          (Starting off by saying 82 is insanely warm even by my standards, and 77 would probably be pushing it). For me it’s about the number of times the AC kicks on and the cold air blowing down on me rather than the room temperature itself.

          1. SJP*

            I work in an office that one end is hotter than the other. And I mean a good few degree’s difference. Luckily our office manager got thermometers to check and my desk at one end if 3-5 degrees different to the other end. It’s Autumn here in the UK so it’s cooling off so it’s like 18 C outside but at my desk its usually 26/27 c which is really hot for me. And saying that, im a cold person who is generally also cold so i know something is up with our air-con. While the other end is like 21-22 C which is cold but can put more clothes on.
            Ive come from offices which are always cold and I enjoy wrapping up warm so to come to a new office and it be so warm im in less clothes and air sandels and tops it sucks. Luckily they’re working on getting it a more even temperature all over.
            But to the OP, if it gets so warm and it makes you feel ill and stuff mention that to your office manager and say that it’s making you sick and stuff. Im having to get a fan to cool me off here cause it’s so warm and it makes me have headaches and feel dizzy and thats with drinking lots of water and stuff. So if your office manager has sense then they will lock it up at the cooler temperature and the people who are cold will just have to suck it up.
            Don’t get me wrong, I have been the ‘im freezing all the time’ person so I feel for you coldies but on the other hand this poor person is so hot it’s a struggle..

        3. Snargulfuss*

          Okay, I agree that 77 is not an unbearably cold temperature, but as someone who is constantly cold, I am so tired of being told to put on a sweater. Adding extra layers doesn’t always help; sometimes you’re just cold down to your core and nothing by a really warm environment will warm you up.

          You know the way you feel when you’re suffocatingly hot and can’t concentrate on anything and kind of want to die? Well, that’s the way some of us feel when we’re cold, and because we have strange internal body temperatures we’re cold pretty much 90% of the time. I know I’m totally in the minority on this and won’t get a lot of sympathy, but people with higher body temperatures don’t understand that just putting on a sweater rarely solves the problem. (Plus, I just want to be freeeeeee to run around in shorts and a t-shirt!)

          1. Snargulfuss*

            Also, you know that whole argument about how men are more likely to have open, dominant body positions while women are more likely to have closed, submissive positions? I’m convinced that’s because men control the thermostats in so many spaces. Let women hike up the temps just a little and we’ll rule the world!

            1. Jamie*

              I know you were kidding – but it’s actually because of the way their pelvic bones are more narrow and the angle of the junction of their legs to hips. Between that and external genitalia it’s far more uncomfortable for them to sit with their legs together than it is for a woman.

              You can see it when people are alone – women don’t tend to sit all spread eagle and men don’t demurely keep their legs together…people position themselves for comfort, or at least lack of discomfort, when possible.

                1. Anonsie*

                  Agreed. The pelvis shape thing is not as dramatic as you’d think. Even if you’re trained in the differences to identify gender from bones, you can’t just glance at them and tell right away.

                2. Cat*

                  Yeah, hence the recent discovery that all those Viking skeletons were women; it had been assumed that they were male because they were buried with swords and it’s not that obvious from the skeleton shape.

            2. HeyNonnyNonny*

              Also men tend to wear suits with jackets year-round, while women have more freedom to match their clothing to the weather outside…and then freeze indoors!

              1. Turanga Leela*

                This might explain why I am firmly on Team Cold Office despite being a woman. I wear blazers and either long pants or stockings almost every day.

              2. Girasol*

                We’re office casual. Men wear short sleeved shirts. Women wear short sleeved shirts for the hot summer commute and sweaters over them indoors to stay warm in the over-eager air conditioning. Mostly that is, except for one fellow who has a knee length floofy down parka on in the office winter and summer. As long as his shirt is pressed that still qualifies as office casual, doesn’t it? Anyway, it kinda points to what AAM says: you can be chilled and get warm easier than be overheated and get cool.

          2. JustKatie*

            I know that cold feeling and absolutely sympathize, but if you’re feeling that cold at 77, you might want to get a checkup with your doctor. That’s on the warm side of ambient temperature, and you should be able to feel reasonable comfortable at that temp.

            1. Erica*

              As another in the higher-internal-thermostat camp, I have gotten a checkup with my doctor. Diagnosis: “Well, you could take more iron supplements, but honestly, some people just run cold.”

              1. Anonsie*

                Yeah. I don’t want to pile on this idea, but when people recommend others to go to the doctor with something vague like “I’m cold a lot” or any of the many other mild, nonspecific things people often suggest here (sleepy a lot, nodding off at your desk occasionally, spending a lot of time in the bathroom) I always assume they’re someone very healthy who hasn’t actually had much need to do this and doesn’t know they’ll give you a shrug and tell you to get more exercise.

                1. Anonasaurus Rex*

                  I went to my doctor with a complaint of feeling very cold all the time and found out I had a thyroid disorder. A couple months of medication and suddenly my hands aren’t freezing at the office anymore.

                2. JustKatie*

                  I actually have a couple of substantial health issues, so I get that my suggestion to go to the doctor might sound silly to some… but I’ve found that in my experience, small, seemingly benign symptoms were indicators to something bigger. It can’t hurt to get it checked out. I think getting some blood work done would be a good idea (and should be done as a part of an overall physical periodically anyway).

                3. Anonsie*

                  I have a relatively un-serious (but disruptive) chronic condition and I spent many years going to many doctors with this issue or that issue and getting the good old fashioned CBC-and-shrug trying to figure out what was going on before it progressed to a textbook-enough set of symptoms for someone to recognize it as a relatively common disorder. So my dismissal of that idea isn’t because I think these are things that can’t possibly be problems, but rather that I know the majority of practices are unlikely to piece something together from one extremely nonspecific symptom even if there were a bigger underlying cause.

                  So the “go to a doctor and fix it” advice just kind of grates on me because it effectively turns the burden of responsibility onto the person with the symptom. “They wouldn’t have this problem if they would just see a doctor and take care of it.”

            1. RobM*

              … and neither should other people feel like they’re drowning in sweat on a normal day. Why are their needs worth less than yours?

              And seriously, I’m open to the idea that 23 degrees may not be “warm” (though I’d certainly consider it to be so) but if you’re still cold when the thermostat is set to 28 then there’s something wrong (possibly the office layout or the heating/cooling system rather than you, of course).

            2. Anx*

              I want to respect that people may enjoy it being cool in the summer, but I do get a bit bitter about breaking out into a sweat when it’s over 90 F and then moving indoors when it’s under 65 F. It makes me miserable. I know it can be difficult to perfect ambient temps in a large buildings, but I do resent having to wear short sleeves in the winter and thick pants/shirts in the summer.

              1. ella*

                I hate the drastic switches in temperature from summer outdoors/severe AC indoors because it makes me less tolerant to both temperatures. I don’t have AC in my house (luckily it cools off in the evenings, or I wouldn’t be able so sleep), and this summer the swamp cooler at my work wasn’t functioning properly, so I was warmer than I wanted to be, but for the most part I dealt with it. It makes you more appreciative of coffee shops and movie theaters. And I don’t get summer colds like most people get because my body doesn’t get confused with all the switching.

                1. R*

                  I just want to point out that switching temperatures in no way causes colds. You didn’t catch a cold because your body was never infected with a virus, not because of the ambient temperatures.

                2. Melissa*

                  Switching temperatures may not *cause* colds, R, but sudden changes in temperature can indeed contribute to colds. Sudden temperature changes put a minor amount of stress on your body as it adjusts, and the extra stress can weaken your immune system. How much depends on a lot of factors. Sudden temperature changes can also affect joint pain, migraines, and heart health (although most of the research has been on outdoor temperatures).

          3. Nicole*

            I can so relate to you here! I have thermostat wars with my husband because I’m perfectly happy if it’s 78 degrees in the house (so long as I’m not doing housework or exercising) and he would prefer if it was closer to 70. I joke that I am cold-blooded because even though I feel cold more often than not I also get uncomfortably hot in 80+ degree weather too.

            Also, once my hands/feet go cold it’s really tough to get warm again just by adding more layers. I would have to resort to taking a hot bath or at least soak my feet in hot water to bring back feeling and warmth to them. Same goes for my hands.

            And don’t get me started on working in an office. I have to wear nylons, two pairs of socks, and warm fuzzy boots in the winter to keep my feet from feeling like ice blocks. It’s so painful when they get that cold but my office will not allow space heaters so that’s what I have to do, as well as wear Cuddl Duds under my pants and a sweater over my long-sleeved shirt. I’m really not looking forward to dealing with the whole thing again this winter!!!! Oh and the sad part is the thermostat is supposedly set at 73 degrees so should I really be feeling that cold? All I know is I would kill for a work from home job where I could control the temperature to my liking.

            I’m perfectly healthy by the way, so I think I just have a weird internal temperature. My husband runs hot so at bedtime I can literally get warm just lying next to him as he feels like a heater to me!

            1. Phyllis*

              Mine too, Nicole. When we first married, my mother wanted to buy us an electric blanket as a gift. I thanked her and told her it wasn’t necessary, I was already sleeping with a space heater.

          4. Jess*

            Here here! I am one of those people that is almost always cold and actually enjoys the hot, sticky 95+ degree summer days in NYC. When someone can’t believe that I’m cold in a given situation, I tell them to feel my hands and they’re always shocked! My extremities are like ice for like 8 months of the year. I keep a down comforter on my bed during said hot NYC summers (and I don’t have AC in my apartment, I would never use it, a fan does the job when necessary).

            When working an office job, I often layer multiple (wool) cardigans and am still a little chilly.

            1. Anx*

              When my boyfriend turns the AC on blast in the summer I protest by touching the nape of his neck or ‘knee pits’ with my frozen extremities.

          5. Nichole*

            More sympathy here, I’m always cold too and it hurts my focus. I wear cardigans and long pants all year because normal office temperature is too cold for me. The trouble is, when I wear a sweater inside, I tend to get sweaty and overheated on top while still having cold legs, feet, and hands. I take my sweater off, feel miserably cold, put it back on, get sweaty, and still feel cold. It’s useless. I was so excited to get an office with a thermostat-until I realized that no matter where I set it, it only adjusts by a few degrees. I think they only put the boxes in the offices to make us think we’re winning.

            1. plain jane*

              Have you tried with different sweater materials? wool socks? silk? wristers/gauntlets/fingerless gloves?

              1. ella*

                Seconding wool. Wool is a really good insulator (even when wet), but it’ll breathe better than anything synthetic. You might find your body is better able to find a happy medium with something insulating but breathable. See if you can find good, thick wool socks, or even a work-appropriate hat to wear. You can also get arm warmers (think just shirt sleeves) at bike shops. I’ve often found that if I can get my feet or my head warm, the rest of my body follows suit. I’ve found it more effective to insulate my extremities, and then my body can concentrate on insulating my trunk. It’s much more effective than insulating my trunk by putting on a sweater and expecting that to spread to my arms and legs.

                I’ve also resorted at times to carrying around a mug of hot water–not to drink, but just to wrap my hands around to get my hands warm. Or taking a trip to the bathroom and running my hands under the hand dryers.

                1. Sasha LeTour*

                  I’ve made arm-warmers with the cut-off legs of old tights. They are perfect for layering under a jacket, and if only the toes were frayed (so the leg part looks smooth and new, not “pill-y”) and the colors match, they can even work as 3/4-length sleeves under a tee shirt for that “layered” look.

                  I got this idea by looking at old photos from my youth, when some of the girls were wearing fishnet tights as “arm-warmers” inspired by Madonna and post-punk groups like Bauhaus.

            2. Turanga Leela*

              Four ideas:
              1) Warm footwear (boots or booties rather than flats or heels, with warm socks or at least knee-highs)
              2) Vests
              3) Scarves
              4) Coffee/tea as a handwarmer

              I can get sweaty even when my hands are alarmingly cold (as in, people comment when we shake hands), and these have worked well for me. Also, I’ve never tried this, but if you have cold legs, you could try wearing spanx, silk long underwear, or even tights under your pants.

          6. Anonsie*

            Agreed. When it’s cool out here I regularly wear thermal long johns, wool or corduroy pants, a long-sleeved shirt under a sweater, and frequently a fleece over that. I am still cold in my office, though, because it’s a refrigerator in here! That’s the minimum I need to not shiver and have my hands turn purple and start falling asleep.

            Oh for extra fun, I start falling asleep if I’m too cold all day. Does this happen to anyone else? I mean, I could be nodding while walking around. Everyone always says people will fall asleep if they’re too warm and keeps the thermostat low during meetings and trainings and it drives me nuts. I’m always like, surely I can’t be the only person who is now doomed??

            1. MissLibby*

              Yes, being cold and drowsy go hand and hand for me. I have given up on trying to figure out why. I am fortunate to have a space heater. I have also noticed I am most likely to feel cold/tired after lunch so that is when I make a nice up of hot tea.

              1. Anonsie*

                The conventional wisdom is the opposite, from what I’ve always heard. I’ve seen many people turn the temperature down when tired to wake up, or to keep people awake in long meetings or in classrooms.

                It may be a globally regional thing? I’m in the US, I seem to recall that you are in… Romania? Did I just make that up?

                1. Melissa*

                  I’m in the U.S., and I also get drowsy when I’m cold. On the other hand, it’s nigh impossible for me to fall asleep if I’m hot.

            2. Mints*

              This is true for me too (getting drowsy when cold) but it’s probably conditioned response and not anything physical. I like my bedroom cold and sleep with one or two blankets for coziness. When I’m cold at work, I just want to curl under my desk with my coat on.
              (Maybe relevant: I live in California where it doesn’t get super cold anyway)

            3. Peep!*

              Me too! One time I was sent to shelf-read books in the library’s very cold storage area (basically checking to make sure each book is in the right order… super exciting), and the combination of the super boring task and the super cold made me just fall asleep on the stool I was using. Embarrassing!

                1. Mints*

                  Well it’s basically replacing a sweater, so I think it’s a bit unfair to call it a Tshirt. Also Under Armour definitely gets to the outlets, and places like Ross and Big5; I probably paid half price for the one I have
                  (I posted the link for reference)

                2. Anonsie*

                  A+ Macklemore hahaha

                  And Mints, I definitely have UA Coldgear. I’m just being grandma and calling them “thermal long johns” above. It doesn’t replace a sweater, for sure.

          7. JB*

            This! In the winter I have a space heater, layers of sweaters, and heated hand warmers and foot warmers, and I’m often STILL cold. I’m not saying that the temperature needs to be something that would be comfortable for me, but I wish we could compromise. I’m not the only woman in my office who is freezing all through winter.

          8. Elizabeth*

            While I’m happy with my space heater in my cubicle (yes, even in the summer), I completely agree! For some of us, putting on a cardigan doesn’t automatically warm us up, just like removing a cardigan doesn’t bring instant relief in a warm environment. Hard to describe to people who don’t experience it, and I’ve learned to adapt (in the long run, a ten-degree range of office temperature is pretty first world problem-y), but putting on a sweater isn’t necessarily the magical solution–if it were that simple, we would have figured it out a while ago!

            1. Office Girl*

              But still—it is more possible for those who are cold to put on more clothes. I am lucky to work in an office that’s comfortable most of the time, but there are days that swing in both directions (way too hot, way too cold). On the cold days (usually winter) I just wear my wool peacoat all day (annoying but it does the trick). I have even brought in a small heating pad to keep on my lap. But on the hot days….there’s nothing I can do. So to me–the people who are too hot are the ones to side with. Now, of course there are exceptions–ie if there’s someone who is hot unless the office temp is like 61 degrees–but I feel like in the case of 82 vs 77, 77 is the FAR more reasonable temp (and is still hot! good lord! i would die.)

              1. Elizabeth*

                Right, it’s easier, but it’s not necessarily a solution if putting on more clothes doesn’t warm you up.

                1. coffeeless*

                  As someone with freezing hands (try typing like that) who can’t wear wool, sometimes “just put on a sweater” doesn’t really do it.

              2. JB*

                As Elizabeth pointed out, yes, I can keep putting on more layers until I can’t put my arms down, but when it’s cold enough in the office, that doesn’t make me warm. The air has to be warmer, or I’m freezing. I’m not saying the thermostat must accommodate me, to the discomfort of everyone else. I’m just saying that “it is more possible for those who are cold to put on more clothes” is irrelevant–you might as well have said “it is possible to put pickles on a sandwich”–it’s a true statement but it has nothing to do with whether I’m warm. I’m in the same position as the person who is warm and can’t take off any more layers. And can’t that person just use a fan?

                Again, not saying I want the thermostat set at my level of comfort while everyone else melts. I just get tired of the “just put on another sweater” comments, like it’s entirely my own fault that I’m uncomfortable.

          1. Jamie*

            Even if due to a ventilation issue and it’s cold enough they need gloves to type? I don’t think the season matters once you’re inside.

            Sure, facilities should be working on a more energy efficient solution, but some workplaces can be really hard to heat evenly and in the meantime people need to be able to function, imo.

            1. Erica*

              Right, I meant the idea of keeping the office so cold in summer that space heaters are even a thing. It’s summer. It’s supposed to be hot. Removing that heat via energy intensive AC, then restoring it via energy intensive space heaters… oy.

          2. MissLibby*

            We have had an initiative in our buildings to reduce energy costs and our maintenance staff started looking at space heater use. What they found was that space heaters were mostly being used in the summer so they raised the thermostats while the AC is on. They also did a lot of work of trying to adjust zones and where vents were blowing. I am not sure what impact this has had on our energy costs, as it is an ongoing initiative and I haven’t seen any results reported, but I do think that people are more comfortable now and I see less people sitting at their desks with their jackets on. I don’t think I have seen my admin wearing her fingerless gloves at all this summer.

        4. Anon*

          If I am sedentary and wearing a non-maxi skirt and tank to, I could be uncomfortably chilly at 77 but comfortable at 82. 5* can make a big difference indoors – not the difference between frozen fingers and comfort but the difference between discomfort and comfort.

          That said, it’s certainly a small enough difference to be able to deal with by putting on a jacket and wearing long pants. I’m a cold-natured person and I’ve never had the privilege of working in a 77* office! It’s always much colder, sometimes to the point that I can wear a thick jacket and drink hot tea and still be so cold that I can’t concentrate. My current office is the warmest one yet in that I can be comfortable in a jacket and some days don’t even have to wear one.

      3. WorkingMom*

        Ours are covered by a lock box too – only the facility manager can change it (of course there are back ups if he happens to be out, etc.) It helps SO much, because he also knows how the vent system flows, and so on. So if my office is freezing and my neighbor is sweltering, he knows why and how to correct it – to a certain degree.

        If space heaters are allowed, perhaps your coworkers who prefer it warmer can use a space heater to keep their immediate space warmer?

        1. mm*

          We can use space heaters but if we have too many turned on in an area the breaker shuts down and we have no power in the area until our Operations Manager unplugs one or more of the heaters and turns the breaker back on. We’ve learned how many and where we can plug them in, but every once in a while someone forgets and we’re sitting in the dark waiting for the Operations Manager.

      4. LBK*

        Yeah, when I set my thermostat at home it’s usually about 70-72. I would be melting at 82 and people would not be pleased with my hygiene – I already have issues with sweating, if it were 82 I would probably have to bring a change of clothes for halfway through the day.

        1. Jamie*

          70-72 is the perfect temperature always, year round. I do not know why this is an argument anywhere because LBK and I are correct on this.

            1. A Teacher*

              80-82? My students shut down at that and we’re in an unairconditioned building. Two weeks ago we hit 90 degrees by midafternoon, lets say that learning wasn’t happening. 70-72, perfect temp for learning.

              1. Anonsie*

                I would be sitting on my hands to keep them from going to ice instead of taking notes.

                No joke, this happened to me a lot as a student!

            2. LBK*

              Only if I’m going to the beach/a pool. And I am allowed to have a frosty beverage at it, preferably something made in a blender with a little umbrella in it. And tequila.

            3. HeyNonnyNonny*

              Yes. My A/C is set in my apartment for 80, even in summer. Sometimes I turn everything off to warm up more.

        2. Mints*

          I agree, but Mr Mints likes it 60-65 so we compromise by it being 70 and me angling the fan towatds him and giving him popsicles heh

      5. Chinook*

        The lock box is a must have. Some people are used to their home systems where, if they are cold, they have to crank up the heat and then then turn it down once the room is warm enough. Office systems don’t work that way. As well, larger buildings take approx. 24 hours to adjust to outside temperature changes (which is why everyone in Calgary is freezing in their office right now – no building can quickly adapt to an outdoor change from +25 Celcius (shorts weather) to -5 Celcius (with a foot of snow) in less than 24 hours). As well, if you are in one of those places where there are definite systems, sometimes the furnace and a/c actually need to be turned on at the beginning of the season.

        1. LBK*

          That’s a great point – an office HVAC system works very differently from your thermostat or your window A/C at home.

        2. JMegan*

          This is OT, but I seriously can’t believe it’s snowing in Alberta already! I mean, I can believe it, but ugh. What happened to the summer?

          1. Al Lo*

            Ugh, tell me about it. I can believe it, but this is really unusual, even for here. If we get September snow, it’s usually just a skiff that doesn’t stick, rather than this really wet, heavy stuff that’s piling up. Our poor trees. They’re still too supple for all that weight, and the leaves haven’t even fallen yet, so there’s more surface area to catch the heavy stuff, so they’re just bowing and breaking all over the place.

            I swear, if we have another winter like last winter, I may mutiny. I’m not built to handle 6 months of snow. The thing about Calgary is that we at least get chinooks, and the snow is supposed to melt fully at least 4 or 5 times through the winter, but the last 2 years, that hasn’t happened.

      6. Dasha*

        +1 Me too. While I agree that it is probably best to be cooler than warmer, my office is always freezing! I really wish they wouldn’t keep my office quite so cold. Most people have a space heater going (even in the summer!) and I keep thinking our electricity bill has got to be outrageous.

      7. Kate*

        Agreed! 77F is about where I start to feel like it’s boiling in the office. Our thermostats are set to 75 and most people can live with it.

      8. Cath in Canada*

        77 is crazy hot! The warmest I ever heat my house to in winter is 70F (60F at night).

        The person in my office who sits closest to the thermostat a) thinks it belongs to her, b) keeps turning it up to about 75, c) never, ever wears anything warmer than leggings and a short-sleeved blouse. If anyone turns it down, it’s back up again minutes later, even if you mention to her that you’re too hot and can’t take any more clothes off, and maybe she could make a cup of tea if she’s cold? And our office is the kind that feels stuffy even when it’s not too warm (we don’t have any openable windows), so it gets pretty nasty on a regular basis.

  3. Elizabeth West*

    Cooler is definitely better. I’m on the third floor of a large building with an open floor plan and very large windows. We can’t touch the thermostats here. In the summer, the air kicks on and it gets a little chilly down on my end (I can actually feel the temperature drop as I walk back to my desk). In the winter, I’ve noticed it’s a bit cold as well. So I keep a cardigan on the back of my chair, and a tiny blanket (fleece remnant) in my footrest. I do have a fan I use after stair climbing to cool off, but we’re not allowed heaters. The sweater and blanket work just fine. :)

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      Sweater, blanket, hot tea, and occasionally gloves. The hot tea does double duty, because it requires me to get up and move about 45 minutes after finishing it. But that’s at 72 — at 77 I’d be drinking ice water all day.

      1. Koko*

        I have an office blanket and office sweater as well!

        I err on the side of preferring it warm, but setting the thermostat above 80 is something I’ve never even heard of! At home I keep it at 75, and I never try pushing it above about 73 in a shared space for fear of offending those who run hot.

        My natural enemies in the war are the folks who want it at 67 and find anything above 70 to be horrifyingly hot. The problem for me is that while ostensibly it’s easier to warm up with layers than cool down by stripping them off, that only works to a point. I have a fairly common health condition that affects my circulation (underactive thyroid, as many as 1 in 3-4 American women have it) and below 70, my fingers turn to popsicles. Gloves don’t really help–they can trap warmth inside but with so little blood flow to my fingers, my hands aren’t actually generating any heat inside the gloves, so my hands have to start off warm when I put the gloves on and I can’t remove them. So even if I remember to put them on as I’m entering the building in the morning all the heat escapes when I take them off to eat lunch. Plus, having to wear gloves all day while typing is considerably more uncomfortable and cumbersome than just putting on a sweater or a blanket.

        I believe OSHA recommends that office temperatures be set at 68-76* Fahrenheit.

        1. Gene*

          The OSHA policy (not regulation) is in this document from 2003.

          The relevant paragraph for this discussion is the second one, and it states:

          As a general rule, office temperature and humidity are matters of human comfort. OSHA has no regulations specifically addressing temperature and humidity in an office setting. However, Section III, Chapter 2, Subsection V of the OSHA Technical Manual, “Recommendations for the Employer,” provides engineering and administrative guidance to prevent or alleviate indoor air quality problems. Air treatment is defined under the engineering recommendations as, “the removal of air contaminants and/or the control of room temperature and humidity.” OSHA recommends temperature control in the range of 68-76° F and humidity control in the range of 20%-60%.

          1. Koko*

            I’m not sure if you bolded that just for effect or as a correction, but I did refer to it above as a recommendation, not a regulation.

            1. Gene*

              That was emphasis, not snark.

              If I’m going to correct someone, I’ll do it straight out; and it needs to be something important, like, “It’s OK to flush those baby wipes.”

              I bolded it because too many people see “OSHA said it, so it’s the law!”

        2. Elizabeth West*

          My thyroid is borked too, and I also have messed-up wrists from too much physical lifting and typing, so I have to use supports. I get the ones that have a hand covering so they’re like thin fingerless gloves. They help a little bit, plus my fingertips are free for using the keyboard. I have to use them at home too when I write.

      2. Anonna Miss*

        Hot, tea, sweater and/or blazer, silk glove liners, and a heated footrest.
        Let me repeat that. HEATED FOOTREST.

        But only in winter. Having to use that stuff in the summer would be stupid.

        1. Koko*

          Ha! It’s the opposite in our building. In summer they crank the A/C too much and we all freeze. In winter the heat is too high and we’re all stripping as soon as we get inside. Whatever the temperature is outside, it’s the opposite of that inside!

          1. Turanga Leela*

            This is my least favorite thing ever. You get to work in the winter, you’re dressed in your nice winter stuff and cute boots, and the office is 80 degrees. Agony.

    2. Anon*

      I think that cooler is better to an extent, but hate that so many people think that no matter how cold it gets indoors, you can always warm up with more clothing. I have worked in several offices where with a heavy-ish jacket, scarf, and perpetual mug of hot tea, I was still uncomfortably cold at all times, and wasn’t allowed to bring a space heater or even a snuggie. Often I’d be too cold to concentrate and my fingers would literally be painful (I don’t have Reynaud’s). I’ve tried wearing gloves but can’t type with them on, and if you wear a heavy coat indoors people are really obnoxious about it and keep telling you to “Take off your coat and stay awhile.”

      If a cardigan and blanket are enough to keep you warm, that’s fine – and in the OP’s case, it sounds like the women are already in skimpy clothes so if it were 5* cooler they’d still definitely be able to stay comfortable with more clothing. I’m just soapboxing because so many people say that you can always get warmer. There’s a limit to how cold it can be for that to be true, especially if you’re expected to maintain a professional appearance and can’t wear a puffer coat or snuggie.

  4. Katie the Fed*

    Oh yes. definitely been going on a long time:
    “There will be no more coal burned in this office today! Is that quite clear Mr. Cratchit?”

    But I digress :)

    Yeah, I think the overheated folks win out. It’s very hard to cool off, but easier to warm up with a sweater or something.

    Are there different zones of the office that are cool/hot? You could move accordingly.

    1. cvj*

      My thoughts exactly. I don’t like to be cold, but 77! At 77, the air even smells hot. That’s ridiculously hot. My office stays on 72 in the summer and for those of us who get chilly, we keep a small heater.

    2. BTownGirl*

      Amen! Granted, when my husband sneaks the thermostat in our house up to 72 in the summer, I’m all, “HAVE YOU ICE IN YOUR VEINS?!”.

    3. littlemoose*

      Totally agreed! I’d lose it if I had to work in an 82-degree office. 77 degrees is only slightly less unacceptable. I can’t stand to be hot, and I agree that colder is better, because I can add layers but the office frowns on taking off too many clothes.

    4. Anonsie*

      Boiling, no way. I can’t even consider wearing short sleeve or pants if it’s not at least that warm.

    5. Anon*

      82 is an ideal sedentary temp for me – it’s pretty much the minimum where I can have bare legs or arms, at least – but I totally recognize that I’m in the minority. And if my job involved a lot of walking around, I would definitely need it cooler.

    6. Zed*

      Agreed! At 77, I would be miserable! At 82, I would actually be physically ill and would probably have to get a new job.

      I am happy in the 65-68 range. However, I also really enjoy 60-65 with a nice jacket or blanket! (Yes, to me comfort involves being so chilly you have to wear another layer. Somebody back me up on this?)

      1. Marcy*

        I will. In fact, my AC is running, the ceiling fan is on and I have a blanket covering my lap. I think I like for my head to be cold and the rest of me warm. When I lived up north, I used to sleep with the window cracked, even during blizzards. Cold with a blanket- perfect!

      2. Melissa*

        ME! My perfect comfort in my own apartment is chilly enough so I have to wear sweatpants and a long-sleeved tee or maybe even a sweatshirt. In my apartment that the thermostat can be anywhere from 68-73 for that. Normally it’d be a bit lower but I think the shape of my apartment and the placement of the vents makes higher temperatures seem a lot cooler – in my old apartment in NY ~65F was great, and at 72F I was hot.

    7. Skye*

      *cackles* 77 is on the cool side, 80 is perfect, and 85 is kind of warm. 90 is manageable. But 100, that’s boiling.

    8. Rachel - HR*

      Seriously. If it gets above 75 in my office, staff will demand we call all in HVAC maintenance. I can’t imagine keeping the temperature at 77 on purpose. We’ve found that 73 seems to make everyone happy.

  5. Elizabeth*

    Wowza. 77 is the low end of the temperature spectrum? I’m one of those people who’s always cold, and that seems crazy high to me–most of the offices I’ve worked in have hovered around 70, give or take a degree or two.

    My company provided a space heater for my cubicle. Obviously, I know policies on them vary from office to office, but blasting the thing has kept me nice and toasty in my little area without forcing my co-workers to be subjected to it. Unless they come into my cubicle. Then they can deal, damn it.

    1. Bend & Snap*

      I have a contraband space heater; a lot of people do since it’s freezing in here. But we don’t get to control the thermostat so everyone deals.

      Maybe it’s time for the office manager to step in, decree a permanent temp and put a lock on the thermostat.

    2. Karowen*

      That’s what I was going to say – There are 5 people in my office, 2 are always freezing, I and another woman are always hot. They have a space heater, we have fans. But, the office itself is also very large so I don’t even notice how high they have their space heater up until I have to go over to talk to one of them.

      Like you said, though, it definitely depends on the office – space heaters are frowned upon by my company but not outright banned, so they can get away with it.

    3. Felicia*

      I’m Canadian, so I had to Google what that was in Celcius to understand, but wow, 77 is hot! I’ve never been in a home or office that hot, and I would consider that putting it up too high. I’m always a little cold so i’d probably like 77, but that’s hotter than the average office.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        The thermostat in my house is so old that it’s still in Fahrenheit! It’s actually been quite useful in that I can now do the conversion for most normal temperature ranges without having to do any mental arithmetic.

      2. newbie in Canada*

        I purposely have my thermostat in my house in fahrenheit because going up or down one degree celcius feels too extreme.

        Our house is usually around 70 in the winter and 74 in the summer. But at home you can walk around in shorts and a tank top and bare feet and it’s ok.

    4. hermit crab*

      Agreed! I’m comfortable at 77+ degrees but, as someone said below, people like me should recognize that we have a non-standard view of what “room temperature” means! If it’s warm enough in my office for me to take off my sweater, I know that it means the A/C is broken, everyone else is uncomfortably warm, and someone should call building management. That said, one day it hit 92 in here and that was too much even for me.

    5. Traveler*

      Yeah I’m also an always cold person, and I would never turn it up to even 77, let alone 82! I definitely wouldn’t expect others to suffer through it.

    6. Jen RO*

      I’m one of those people too, and 77f (25C) is just perfect to me. I would rather *not* bring a sweater, and I am sad that I could barely wear my sandals and sundresses this year*… but 25C would be fine even for me.

      (*I work in a very casual office, please don’t gasp in horror.)

      1. Jen RO*

        Also… more googling and 80F is 26.6C. People can actually feel the difference? I thought 80F was at least 27-28C!

        1. Felicia*

          I’ve noticed temperatures in farenheit sound like they have a bigger difference than they do in Celcius. But I also can’t accurately imagine how hot or cold farenheit feels

          1. Koko*

            I read somewhere long ago that the detection threshold for the average person is 3*F. Below that most people can neither detect a shift in the ambient temperature, nor accurately detect a difference between the temperature of two objects in hand.

        2. louise*

          Tiny differences in temperature make a huge difference to me. The difference between 77 and 82 would be big to me! (at 77 I’d be fine sitting still, especially with a fan nearby, but would get nasty sweaty if up moving around, especially if the air were still. At 82? I’d be sweaty even sitting still.)

          Because of that, I’ve always said I’m glad I live in a Fahrenheit country, because F degrees are more precise, since each degree covers a smaller range of temperature.

    7. Labratnomore*

      Wow I agree, 77 is crazy hot. I am typically always warm, but at work I am always cold (I think we keep it at 68° in my area because a lot of others are on their feet all the time, but I sit all day). Other areas of our office are kept between 70 and 72°, depending on how many complaints our facilities group gets about people beign hot/cold. I do have a heater that I turn on when I get really cold. I keep my house what I consider hot when I am even just slightly active becasue I hate paying all that money in the electriv bill, an I only go up to 74° at home. I would talk to the manager or someone to get a perminent solution and get that thing locked down! Maybe if you stand under the thermostat with a lighter until the air kicks in that would help, just make sure those people are not watching!

    1. sunny-dee*

      Also, it is really, really bad to run computer equipment at that temperature. I am cold natured, but the warmest I’ll get my (home) office is 76 because I have several systems running, and I don’t want them to overheat.

  6. Elysian*

    In my office we don’t have a choice about the thermostat. Sadly I have to sit with my fingerless gloves, cup of hot water, blanket on my lap, and 3 sweaters – still freezing, mind you – because my office building feels that 65 degrees with the AC still pumping out cold air onto me is just a fine temp in August. And we can’t do really anything about it.

    1. hildi*

      I am feeling your pain! (er….not, actually, as we’re all too numb to feel anything). I am a cold weather person – I LOVE cold weather and layering and bundling up. So it’s not a hardship for me to wear sweaters and blankets. However….it’s a problem when you’ve got the accessories like you mentioned above and you’re still freezing! I work in a basement and I think that makes it worse. It’s just so hard to control temperature with a/c in these large buildings I think.

      1. EmilyG*

        Me too! Obviously it doesn’t apply to the OP’s situation but there is such a thing as too cold. I’ve worked places where even with sweaters, lap blankets, and fingerless gloves, my hands were tool cold to type properly. I’ve also started to get more episodes of Renaud’s phenomenon, so I’m sooo glad I don’t work there anymore. Yes, it was a basement.

        1. Lynn Whitehat*

          Yes, exactly. This is what the “just put on a sweater!!!!” types don’t understand. There is a point where a sweater just doesn’t cut it. If there weren’t, indoor heating never would have been invented, would it? It can be cold enough that you just cannot get warm enough to get anything done, or if you can, it is only by tricks like wearing mittens and doing jump squats that in themselves preclude doing work. Now, I don’t think 77 is that point, but it definitely exists.

          1. Anon*

            Exactly! In a previous office, I was constantly too cold to concentrate despite always dressing as warmly as I could stand given the temperatures outside, wearing a jacket that was much warmer than the average cardigan, and constantly drinking hot tea. I tried gloves but couldn’t type accurately with them. My boss forbade me from bringing in a space heater or even a snuggie. (I wasn’t client-facing, she just didn’t like the idea of how it looked to have a snuggie or big blanket.) They definitely lost some productivity from me over that. Often I’d have to stop working and either go outside to thaw out or hold onto my mug of hot tea until my fingers weren’t in pain anymore.

          2. Nina*

            I agree. I’ve tried the sweater, holding a mug of hot water, wearing socks, etc. None of them work for very long. I’ve worn a coat at my desk, but it’s hard to type when you’re wearing a coat. The problem is that you lose your body heat as the room gets colder, so it’s difficult for you to warm up again, when there’s so little heat to retain.

            At oldjob, one way I could tell the room was cold because surfaces like the desk and walls were cold to the touch as well. Sometimes a space heater or a heating pad is the only thing that works. Putting on a sweater doesn’t make much difference when you’re working in a meat locker.

        2. the gold digger*

          When I was a Peace Corps volunteer, it was so cold in our office that I had to wear gloves even when I was working on the computer. I finally told my c0-workers that the computer wouldn’t work well without heat and they had to spend some money to buy a tank of gas. They had no problems using our grant funds to buy their lunch, but their attitude toward heat was, “Just keep your coat on.”

        3. Julie*

          Anytime I get Renaud’s symptoms at work is when it is undisputedly too cold. For some reason not everyone agrees but I get the blue/white fingers, the numbness and if it gets to the pain then I’m basically useless the rest of the day.

          1. Elizabeth*

            Another Raynaud’s Syndrome sufferer here.

            I have on file with HR a mandated reasonable accommodation* that my office has to be kept between 70 & 76. Lower for long, and I lose feeling in my hands and feet. Higher for extended periods, and I start to show signs of heat stroke. (Raynaud’s doesn’t just mean not handling cold. In its most extreme manifestations, it affects how the body processes temperature changes.) It isn’t about what I prefer. It’s about maintaining my health.

            *The rheumatologist just about had a conniption when they wanted to move me into an office with someone who had a fondness for temps in the low 60’s.

        4. AnonAnalyst*

          Yeah, I also have Raynaud’s and it’s gotten worse over the last few years, so the too-cold office is brutal now since cold=pain. Putting on more layers does nothing to help with that since, as someone said upthread, there is no heat for the additional layers to trap in due to low blood flow. I realize I’m an outlier so I try to compensate (heat packs and heating pads are my best friends), but man, there’s only so much I can do. My last office was 67-68 degrees year round and it was awful. Luckily, now I work somewhere where I can have a space heater, which really helps…and the office is only air conditioned to 72-74 in the summer, a reasonable temperature, so I only have to use it in the winter!

    2. chewbecca*

      Our office is on a lower floor of a 10-story building, and I think the average temp in our office the past few weeks has been in the mid – upper 60s. I always keep 2 jackets, fingerless gloves and a blanket at my desk because it gets really cold in here.

      We have no control over the thermostat – our building maintenance guy takes care of it. We’ve gotten a lot of reasons *coughexcusescough* why they can’t make it warmer in here. I have one vendor who thinks it’s hilarious that I wore gloves inside! In July!

  7. Episkey*

    I’m one of those people that like it on the warmer side. It really does suck to be freezing in the middle of the summer and actually, once I get cold, it does take a lot for me to be able to warm up. I’ve had my fingernail beds turn blue from being in such cold offices before, and it is extremely uncomfortable.

    That being said, I don’t think 77 degrees is unreasonably cold. I guess I have no real advice to offer. The only thing I would suggest to be aware of is that some medical conditions can make it more difficult to tolerate a colder environment. My dad has diabetes and it affects his circulation so it was really hard for him this past winter in our Midwest city suburb. However, his office kept the heat somewhere around 68 degrees (which is a far cry from 77 degrees). He finally brought in a foot mat that heats up and he keeps it under his desk to warm his feet/legs.

    1. Elkay*

      Another blue finger sufferer here. The problem is if I get cold to the point where my joints hurt no amount of layers will help (normally I wear a cotton top and cardigan). Admittedly my toes haven’t seen the light of day this summer at work despite the nice weather because my office is cold. Sounds like your colleagues need to dress more appropriately if they’re feeling the cold.

      1. Algae*

        On another message board I visit, one user swears by a Heated Mouse for keeping her joints from stiffening up. I just checked and there’s one at Amazon for about $25.

        And if your office won’t allow space heaters (ours didn’t for awhile), I know a lot of people use heating pads on their chairs.

        We have a badly designed HVAC system, so attempting to get a decent temperature is always a struggle around here. They do seem to err on the side of cooler since we can layer up.

        1. Anonsie*

          I’m really sad I learned heated mice exist just now because I’m also 100% sure they are not allowed in my office. I put a heating pad on my chair (no space heaters allowed) but it’s hard to use my hands sometimes.

          1. Nina*

            Amazon also sells USB powered handwarmers. Maybe those could help you? I’m thinking of getting a pair for my freezing hands. They’re definitely a step up from fingerless gloves (which don’t always cut it) and they have different designs and styles.

    2. Diet Coke Addict*

      Me too. I wear sweaters and additional cardigans all summer because my boss likes to keep it at a chilly 66 degrees in the office. It is very uncomfortable, difficult to work, and hard to warm up–even after all the suggestions of dressing warmly, having hot drinks, and so on. It drives me insane that we freeze all winter in a cold, drafty building, and then once summer and warm weather are here, the A/C kicks in to keep us all as miserable as we were in January!

        1. Windchime*

          Same here. I would be covered in blankets and drinking cocoa at 66 degrees, and I like a cooler office.

          I’ve worked in offices so cold that we were all huddled up in blankets and gloves and coats. The thermostat had one of those plastic locking covers on it, so one smart person sat a little baggie of ice on it. The head did eventually kick on.

    3. Elysian*

      Agree – People can say all they want “add layesr!”, but once my fingers start stiffening and turning blue… well no amount of sweaters is going to solve that. 77 though is pretty warm even for me.

      1. LBK*

        While I understand your plight, there is literally nothing you can do about being too hot. To Alison’s point, you can at least attempt to mitigate the cold with layers. I can’t take my pants off if I’m too hot – and in an office that doesn’t allow shorts or short sleeves for men, I’m even more restricted in trying to cool off. Sorry, but I can’t see how the “too cold” contingent wins this one (and I speak as someone who keeps those little hand warming packets in my desk because my office can be freezing).

          1. LBK*

            Oh, I agree that anything under 70 is too cold – but if I had to choose between too cold and too hot, I absolutely choose too cold.

        1. Anonsie*

          But the cold people also can’t do anything to stop from being cold, that’s the thing. With all my layers and long underwear and heating pads and whathaveyou, it still negatively affects my productivity, I still look unprofessional (with all my bulky, out of place clothing when I meet clients). It’s not different than being too hot and all the things that come from that.

        2. Anon*

          And if you’re already wearing as much clothing as you possibly can and still look professional, there is literally nothing else that you can do to get warmer. Maybe there are offices out there where they don’t mind if people walk around in down coats, hats, and scarves, but I was forbidden from wearing anything less professional than my warmest jacket (I specifically asked if I could wear a snuggie at my desk but my boss didn’t like the way it looked, even though I wasn’t client-facing). Far more offices allow desk fans than space heaters. Cold people can be in the exact same predicament as warm people.

    4. Laura2*

      Yeah, my problem with cold offices is that I can warm up my arms, legs and feet by wearing long pants, long sleeves and close-toed shoes, but there’s little I can do to warm my fingers up and I end up typing slower and making more mistakes.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I have fingerless gloves that I put on when it gets really cold in the office. I may look like a goth, but I can type.

        1. Jamie*

          If people need to wear gloves to work it’s too damn cold in there. If that’s not a sign I don’t know what is.

          1. Who are you?*

            But if it’s only one or two people while the overwhelming majority are fine?
            I have a sweater I wear every day, drink hot beverages to stay warm and am usually reaching for a scarf or gloves. The people in my office think I’m a little nuts. Most of the people wear short sleeves and open toed shoes. I never thought I was a person who needed warm temps in the office, but apparently I am (at least here!).

            1. Jamie*

              I just posted similar – when my anemia was severe I was freezing all the time, so yeah if it’s one person I’d still check and make sure there wasn’t a weird ventilation thing blowing right on them or something. Or get approval for a space heater, because when it gets to the point you need gloves if something can be done about it I would.

              There is a difference between people who are so uncomfortable (hot or cold) that it’s hard to work and the people who whine because they aren’t as optimally comfortable as they would be in their own house.

              And I recommend getting a CBC to anyone I know who is freezing all the time without a known medical reason. I cannot tell you how my life changed since I got my anemia under control, and it’s so common in women so if you’re a woman might be something to think about.

          2. Alex*

            Yes! And does anyone else’s nose get cold? And it sounds crazy, but my eyeballs get cold! Maybe it’s my eyelids, I’m not sure, but it’s annoying. However, I’m TOTALLY ordering that heated mouse! My right hand is always freezing! I’m ordering one for my mom too, who has Raynauld’s syndrome so her fingers go “dead” when she is cold. She’ll love this.

            1. Diet Coke Addict*

              My face is ALWAYS cold. Right now, even! My nose is cold, my eyes are cold, my hands are freezing, etc. I can’t wear a nose warmer at work!

            2. Agile Phalanges*

              YES!!! I am so with you on the cold eyeballs/eyelids thing, and no one else I know gets it. I actually run rather warm, so it’s not normally an issue, but for example, when I go camping, I don’t sleep well because my eyes are cold. I’m not really a hat person (see running warm, above), but I wear one to bed when camping, and pull it down over my eyes. Or a hoodie. Or just drag the sleeve of my fleece jacket over my eyes. It would be simpler if I wasn’t also picky about not covering my mouth/nose–gotta breathe fresh air, not get all stuffy under the covers.

              But yes, my eyes are actually irritated right now, and I’m not sure how much of it is dryness vs. cold, but it’s definitely because there’s cool air blowing my direction from a vent.

              1. Alex*

                I’m totally internet-stranger bonding with you right now – I love my face covered when I sleep, but it’s so hard to cover a nose while still leaving room for air to get it. I have found that I can sleep with a sheet over my face and still breath.

                1. Joline*

                  I put a pillow over my head because I find it’s stiff enough that it doesn’t fall totally over my face – I still have an air cave.

                2. Agile Phalanges*

                  It’s not a problem for me normally, and I do sleep with my room fairly cool. Just in “extreme” cold like when sleeping outdoors. I don’t like even a sheet over my face when I sleep, though, hence the solution with a hat, hood, or other fabric over just my eyes (or higher), not my nose and mouth. Picky, picky. :-)

                  My mom, who is the weirdest person I know, and who I get many of my quirks from, thought I was insane when I told her about my cold eyeball problems, so it’s great to “meet” someone who can relate!

                3. Mints*

                  I pull the blanket behind my head and cover my eyes (this is mostly for when it’s too bright though). Actually this wouldn’t work for tall people I think

    5. Felicia*

      This would be a good idea…I sit near a window, so it’s so much colder for me than for my colleagues that sit away from the window. Are fight here is over whether the window should be open or not. If they are, i’m way too cold as is the other person who sits next to the window, but everyone else is hot.

    6. Bunny Purler*

      Yes! Right! Now I know what we are talking about! Anyway. I’m having wicked hot flushes at the moment (side effect of horrid medicine) which tend to be worse if I am somewhere hot. I think I might spontaneously combust if the temperature strayed above 80 degrees. Mind you, all the colleagues who prefer it tropical could cluster round and warm their hands by holding them up near my face.

      1. Bunny Purler*

        Argh! Missed the first bit of my post, which was me frantically trying to work out what 77 was in Celsius…

    7. Cath in Canada*

      That goes both ways, though. My friend has MS and her symptoms get much worse when it’s warmer. She’s the only person I know in Vancouver who’s installed AC in her house – for most of us, there are only 2-3 weeks a year when it’s too hot, so it’s not really worth it – but she starts hers up in April or May.

      1. Nerdling*

        That was exactly the sort of thing I was thinking. My friend with MS would be miserable and going home sick if the office were kept at 77* or higher!

        I’m one of the cold people. I’m wearing a long cardigan right now. There are days when my fingers get so cold it gets hard to type. But all I have to do is think about all the days when our AC has broken (and going to elementary school without AC at all), and how hard it is to work when it starts overheating in here, and I’m okay with having the thermostat set at 72 all the time in the summer. It’s not my coworkers’ fault that I’m always cold.

      2. Episkey*

        I can see that. In my dad’s case, I don’t think he was being unreasonable as he is actually a person who prefers things on the cooler side. For him to be cold, it had to have been really bad. He works for the government and has no control over the temp in his building at all. When he asked about increasing the heat (seriously, I think maybe they were even keeping it colder than 68, like around 66 degrees), he was told that the HVAC system is controlled remotely by some centralized system and nobody can change it. They also told him that he wasn’t allowed a space heater. He did get a letter from his doctor explaining the circulation/diabetes issue and then went the heated foot pad route, which didn’t technically violate the space heater rule and I imagine didn’t make it warmer for anyone else. We also had a ridiculously frigid winter here (Chicago).

    8. Liane*

      (Just skimming, sorry if someone has already mentioned this before.)
      Other medical conditions make it hard to tolerate warmer environments. Multiple sclerosis makes some people very, very heat intolerant for example. A very close friend has that symptom. She often gets overheated–sometimes to the point of physical weakness. Once, I was driving the 2 of us around town, doing errands and she became so overheated, even with the AC on, that she slumped against me, too weak to sit up. Scared both of us good.

  8. Meg Murry*

    Does the office have hot spots and cold spots? Can you take a look at where the freezing people sit and see if the problem is a vent that blows right on them, while you are in a dead spot or an area that heats up by the sun coming in the window? Can you either re-arrange the office to put the people who are freezing in the warmer/less drafty places in the office? Or partially cover the vents by them to blow more air your way?

    Alternately, if the problem is more humidity than heat, does your a/c have a dehumidify and fan setting? So its not necessarily cooling the air, just pulling some of the moisture out of the air?

    I’m with you – 77 is actual on the warm side of where I’d be comfortable working and 80 is too hot for me.

    1. Julie*

      Speaking of hot spots, what is your office lighting situation like? My last job had some bulbs that we thought were burnt out so when they were replaced we realized it actually increased the temperature of my area by several degrees. Check to make sure lighting and computer equipment aren’t creating zones of heat for people or for temperature guages.

      1. Who are you?*

        Or some kind of sun shield for the window? Even without direct sunlight, that sun on the glass can heat up the space quite a bit. I lived in FL for a bit and our AC caused our electric bill to skyrocket. We closed all the shades, even adding light blocking curtains. Our AC still had to run but our bill dropped about 25%.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I once sat under a vent and it was so cold that I had a cold the entire summer. Runny nose, coughing… it was torture. The following summer, I was able to get a maintenance tech to close off the vent.
      Just shutting off a vent can make a huge difference. I’ve used packing tape to close a vent to be out of the draft. The room can still cool down from the other vents, but I’m not in the path of the cold air.

    3. AnonyMouse*

      Yep, I’d have a look at where people are sitting and see if that could be a contributing factor…77F is really not that cold, speaking as someone who gets cold easily. And after that, I’d ask for it to be set on the cooler side, following the logic about adding a cardigan or something being easier (and more acceptable) than stripping naked at work! If it continues to be a problem, maybe they’ll need to have a conversation about no more unilateral thermostat adjustment.

    4. HeyNonnyNonny*

      Yes, this. A/C air blowing directly on you is significantly different than having an ambient temperature!

  9. Cat*

    Yeah, 77 is high; someone needs to tell the people who want it hotter that we have non-optional social conventions regarding “room temperature” and they need to cope.

    1. Karowen*

      I was shocked by the 77 as well – I think all thermostats at my company are set to 72 or 73. And 73 can feel ridiculously warm to me.

  10. Holly*

    I’m of the mind that you should go on the side of warmer, but that’s because I live in Phoenix, where it’s 104 most days, but my office feels like a meat locker and it’s not uncommon to come in in winter boots and a trench because otherwise you’d turn into a human popsicle.

    1. Kerry (Like the County In Ireland)*

      I also live in Phoenix, and I am comfortable about at 77-82 indoors. BUT this is because I lived in the Midwest without AC, in a house where it was 90 degrees on the second story at 5pm.

      I advise also getting a digital indoor thermometer (about $10) and taking data at your desk to bolster your argument.

      1. cold*

        Haha I live in Phoenix too and have my house thermostat set at 80-82. Personally I’d rather have the inside temp reflect outside temperatures than be set to am arbitrary ‘room temp’. 80 F feels fine when it’s 100 outside and there IS such a thing as climate acclimation. I also hated living in the northeast when it was 0 F outside but the radiators were on full force so it was 75 inside.

        1. Meg Murry*

          True – I’d argue that 77 is reasonable, except when its 100+ outside, when 20 degrees colder than outside is more than sufficient for me. I would guess the OP is not in Phoenix though, because if so opening the window would not be nearly enough for most of the year.

        2. Zahra*

          Yeah, when it’s 25+ outside, even 76F is cold to me. As temperatures get cooler, I’m more tolerant of colder office temperatures. The one thing I hated about working in a call center is that they thought it was fine to keep the same temperature year-long, so when I went out during a heat wave for my 15-minute break, it would take me 5 minutes to thaw, 5 minutes to feel fine and 5 minutes to (finally!) feel the heat.

        3. The Bookworm*

          In Phoenix the humidity is lower than other places – that can make a huge difference.

          I was in New Orleans recently & the humidity was much higher than what I was used to – I was MISERABLE at a lower temp than what I was used to.

  11. IndieGir*

    Oh, my, do I feel for you! I’d be dying at 77 and at 82, I’d go on strike. My office has a very conservative dress code (suits, jackets, blazers, etc) so we hover between 72 and 76. Ironically, it’s colder in the summer than in the winter.

    I agree with Alison — the folks who can’t take off any more clothes should have precedence. I find with some women that they don’t want to put on more layers b/c it “spoils” their outfits, so perhaps a gift of a nice pashmina which would be thick enough to do double-duty as a lap blanket?

    1. chewbecca*

      I joked the other day that I don’t know why I bother to dress nicely for work anymore, because nobody ever sees what I’m wearing under all the layers. For me, comfort trumps cute any day.

    2. HeyNonnyNonny*

      I like the idea of a pashmina– I don’t like having to add more layers because 1, I don’t want to carry a cardigan back and forth every day, and 2, I don’t have enough cardigans to simply designate an “office sweater,” and 3, I don’t want to have to go buy something specifically to keep at work just because some people can’t compromise on temperature!

      1. Judy*

        Everyone where I work has either a fleece jacket, fleece pullover or cardigan at their desk.

        My kids’ school is air conditioned, I make them have a jacket or pullover in their backpack daily, because certain rooms are just colder than others.

  12. Monica*

    Tell the cold people not to use space heaters if you guys have AC in the building. Also don’t open the window if you do have AC because that just makes the HVAC system work harder and eventually burn out resulting in very costly repairs and it’ll be even hotter in your place.

    For those who are cold (like me), like Elizabeth said, always keep an extra cardigan around. Dress appropriately, like wear shoes with socks instead of open toed shoes. I find one of the best ways to keep warm is with a heating pad, and if you put that on your back, combined with a blanket (as again, per Elizabeth’s suggestion) you should be really toasty. Final thing is to get up often and move around! Having proper circulation will keep you warmer as well.

    1. The Wall of Creativity*

      Yup. I remember the windows vs aircon wars. A couple of people next to a window liked to have it open, which trashed the air conditioning and made the rest iof us sweat.

  13. Diet Coke Addict*

    Alison, did mean “the[ir] invention in the 1800s” or miss a word in the last paragraph? Although I enjoy the idea of “the invention of the 1800s” I’m not sure that’s what you intended to have!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ha! I should leave it like that. I meant “invention of the thermostat in the 1800s.” But I too prefer the idea of inventing an entire century, and blaming it for these temperature issues.

  14. BRR*

    I prefer it cold and I feel your pain. I cannot get anything done if I’m overheated not to mention I get super cranky. I also agree it’s easier to warm up than cool down. I like Alison’s approach but I wouldn’t hold my breath on it succeeding. Could you possibly ask to keep it at 79-80 thereby splitting the difference? Are space heaters allowed in your office (if they are be careful because I shared an office with someone who had one to warm up a degree or two but the heat from the space heater made the office far warmer then if I clicked the thermostat up one or two notches)?

    I’m not sure why you’re fan feels like a blow dryer, I have a tiny vornado fan (the best fan brand I’ve encountered), I think it was $15 from target, and it works wonders.

    1. snapple*

      At a certain point, it gets so hot that you’re basically just recirculating hot air. There’s science behind it that I’m not going to attempt to explain but this has nothing to do with the brand of fan the letter writer is using.

  15. Magda*

    I’m a little bit of a Goldilocks, I guess, because I’ve actually been on both sides of the thermostat wars. Nine out of ten times I would prefer to err on the side of cold. But, I also once had a coworker who was going through hot flashes and would always sneak off to turn the thermostat way, way, way down. It would be so cold it affected my typing because my fingers were stiff. We eventually had to ban her from the thermostat completely.

    Long shot, but would rearranging people’s seats make a difference? Is there anyone who’s sitting directly under an AC vent who’s complaining about the cold, or near a window who’s complaining about the heat? If you truly are at an impasse, that might be something to consider.

    1. cvj*

      Ha! I’m always calling myself Goldilocks because I don’t want too hot, too cold, too soft, too hard, etc. I want it just right!

    2. Chinook*

      “But, I also once had a coworker who was going through hot flashes and would always sneak off to turn the thermostat way, way, way down. It would be so cold it affected my typing because my fingers were stiff.”

      When I worked in an all female office, the running joke was that the women of a certain age (which included our boss) were not allowed to touch the thermostat until they verified that it was too hot with someone guranteed not going through a hot flash.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        We had that at a previous job where we had two pregnant women on our floor, one right after the other. They kept turning down the AC so much we all had icicles hanging in our cubes. Somebody said, “No one on this floor is allowed to get pregnant any more!” I think they were only half joking!

  16. Livin' in a Box*

    I have Raynauds and AC makes my fingers feel like they’re going to fall off, and even I’m comfortable at 77 F. Your coworkers are weird.

  17. KC*

    Err on the side of cool, for sure. Of course, “cool” is subjective. It’s an ice chest in my client’s office (where I work a few days a week), and I keep a winter sweater here to keep warm. It’s what happens when you convert large manufacturing spaces into offices and don’t update the HVAC system — inconsistent temperatures with wild swings in either direction.

  18. happycat*

    I don’t know if there is anyway to win.. I prefer it cooler, but I do move around a bit more than my office mates, who sit at their desks for longer periods without moving.. which might make them even colder…
    In the summer they like it cooler, say 20ish, but in the winter they like it closer to 25. ugh.
    I have given the ‘colder’ people their own personal thermometers, so they can see how warm it really is at their desks, usually that seems to help a lot, but, the truth is that the closer they are to the windows, the greater the difference in temperature compared to the middle of the office. I never win, and someone is always unhappy, but, we try.
    Some folks bring in sweaters and shawls.
    There is no winning the battle, yet I still feel that cooler is better than warmer.

  19. anon123*

    This post solidifies why I’m a huge AAM fan! YES, the answer to this letter is perfect and I will keep it in case I need it for future thermostat wars

  20. nep*

    All over the world, indeed. Colleagues at an office in Dakar were constantly at odds over the AC.
    Far easier for those who don’t like the cooler temp to layer — but some still don’t go for that; they don’t want to layer and accommodate. It can be a tough one.

  21. tt*

    I overheat so easily, that in the summer I have to wear one set of clothes to work, and change by the time I get here, because I’m so sweaty from the commuter (public transportation). I’m sure it’s not “comfortable” for people when they’re cold, but I agree with Allison that it’s easier (relatively speaking) to add layers, then for people to take them off.

    In my old office, I could control the temperature, but not in my new office. Lucky for me, however, the temperature is kept at one that’s more comfortable for me, but not *so* cold that the other people are freezing or turning blue. I’m walking around in short sleeves, and pretty much everyone else here is in sweaters or jackets.

  22. Lisa*

    Move where you sit. OP should be near where air is coming in, and the cold coworkers should be nowhere near the vents until its time for heat.

    They laughed when one woman was wearing my clothes when typing, and would steal them from my coat as soon as I came in. They bought us snuggies as a joke, but then we started using them and he didn’t like that in case clients came in. Eventually, our boss gave everyone company fleeces. It helped a ton, and were better looking.

  23. Cage*

    It can be 106 outside, 69 inside, and I’m running a heater in my office. I understand. I’ve also put cardboard over the vent.

  24. Julie*

    I’d also say watch and see how people in your office commute to work. I had a job that insisted on keeping it frigid but most people had to commute through very hot weather. They’d cool down quickly but then they’d start shivering. They couldn’t wear sweaters while commuting and we had an open office concept with lots of clients so we’d get nagged at for keeping extra layers at work. Or for having large bags that didn’t fit in our desks so we could hold all the clothes.

    Finally the clients started complaining about the cold and management ended up changing the dress code so they didn’t have to wear suits, the entire reason they were so warm. It got better temperature-wise but the attitude behind being so controlling never did change.

  25. Mike C.*

    Christ, this is giving me flashbacks from working in QA at the lab. Nothing better than the owner being too cheap to fix the A/C, and all the fridges/freezers/incubators going nuts, all because the waste heat was being vented back into the room. Above a certain room temperature, it would just spiral out of control.

  26. Amethsyt*

    I get physically ill when I get overheated so I feel your pain. Our office is so hot in the winter that I have to dress like it’s early fall and still crack the window behind my desk just to be able to stay in the room. Unfortunately in this case it’s just the heating system and we can’t change it, but in offices where it was controlled that was what kept people from cranking the heat extremely high.

    Otherwise, see if you can get a window air unit that would blow directly on you. What I do at home is stick ice packs down my shirt but that doesn’t really work in an office environment… Maybe if they see you sitting with one of those flexible ice packs against the back of your neck they’ll take you seriously.

    1. AC*

      Me, too! I’m so heat sensitive that a doctor actually labelled it as an allergy. Which means I’ll never be able to pursue my dream of being a chef. :-(

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      It sounds like OP lives in a place where it’s pretty much essential in a place of business, though, if even the we-like-it-warm crowd is using AC to keep the office at 82!

      My workplace doesn’t have AC either, but that’s because we’re located in a place where the outside temperature might only get over 80 a handful of days in a year.

    2. LBK*

      I would quit my job if they took away the A/C. I’m not sitting in here when it’s 95 degrees and humid. Not happening.

    3. Chinook*

      I have worked in places without AC but we require furnaces to survive winter. The temperature wars are then between the people who want to dress like it is warm outside and those who dress appropriately for the season.

    4. Emma the Strange*

      Where do you live? BecauseI grew up Washington DC, it’s super humid and frequently reaches the 90s and occasionally the 100s in summer. No AC would murder productivity here in summer. In places like the American Southeast, I imagine it’s even worse. Hell, even in the much milder Pacific Northwest (where I live now), it can get pretty uncomfortable without AC.

    5. Jamie*

      I’m curious about what kind of climate would allow for this as well. I’m in Chicago which isn’t exactly tropical, but no AC in the summer would be as untenable as no heat in the winter. Productivity would grind to a halt.

      1. Temporarily anonymous*

        I work on the western (thus, ocean) side of San Francisco. My workplace doesn’t need air conditioning because even in the hottest time of the year it’s rarely above the mid-seventies, and all the rooms either have large windows or are in basements. The fog often rolls in around 3-4 pm, too, if it hasn’t been there all day anyway. Summer is especially foggy. September is normally one of the warmest months in the year because the fog has gone away, and today it’s only supposed to get up to 67. I have a cardigan on! When it is warm, it’s not humid like in Chicago, which makes the air not feel so hot.

        We do need heat in the winter, though not as much as you do.

        1. Temporarily anonymous*

          Funny story: I once had an intern from my alma mater on the east coast – a short during-winter-break kind of thing. When she found out she’d been placed with me, she sent me an email where she mentioned she was excited to come to San Francisco because “I’ve never been to California, and I love tropical climates!” I hated to break it to her that she should bring sweaters and a warm coat because SF in January means temperatures in the 40s-50s with a high probability of a cold drizzle.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Ha ha ha, I used to live in Santa Cruz, and we got fog too. You would sometimes have to wear a jacket if you went out at night in the middle of summer. But then, I could run around in December in shirtsleeves. :)

            We didn’t have AC in the deli I worked at, and the night crew would leave the back door open when cleaning up because it would get stifling in the kitchen. One night, the place got robbed at gunpoint thanks to the wide-open door. (Lucky me; I wasn’t there that night.) The company finally had to install it so they could shut and lock the door after it happened again!

            1. Windchime*

              Yeah, all this talk of open windows and doors is nice, but we can’t do that where I work. We are in a secure building (doors must remain locked) that doesn’t have windows which open.

              Fortunately, the temperatures seem to be pretty reasonable except in the conference rooms. People are always adjusting the heat in there.

      2. Also anon for now*

        Coastal San Diego County — the average year round temperature is 72F, with about 24 days in the 80s, zero days in the 30s. We don’t have central heat or air conditioning at home, making do with radiant heat or open windows depending on the time of year. The office does have a/c though.

      3. Livin' in a Box*

        I’m in Central Ontario. We get 90+F weather in the summer, humidity is 80%+ every day, but my company is too cheap to install air conditioning. Nobody can fight about the AC if you don’t have it. :)

    6. J.B.*

      In an old building, every time the chiller conked out the temperature in the building would get up to 90 degrees F. That was bad. A/C needed.

    7. brightstar*

      If you live in a temperate climate, this would be feasible. I’m in the American southeast where summer temperatures are usually over 95F with a high level of humidity, and no AC can be an actual danger to some.

      That said, I’m cold natured and keep my house at 75, but 77 sounds warm even to me. And I can’t imagine how hot and stuffy an office would get at 82.

      1. anonintheuk*

        I am in the South Midlands of England (true story – radio DJ once described this town as being in ‘northern southern England’). It does not get over 25C often (77 or so?) and rarely below freezing point in the day.

  27. T*

    On the overall hot v. cold thing, I understand choosing cooler over warmer, but I’ve worked in places so cold that a space heater and extra layers of clothing weren’t sufficient, so there actually are valid arguments for both sides, especially when a worker’s hands are really cold. And don’t say you could where gloves. Try typing, filing, or using the phone with gloves on.

    However, I do think that even 77 is pretty warm. I assume the OP is somewhere far south, such as Florida, where people get used to warm temperatures.

    I think in this case, a manager should make the decision (hopefully a happy medium) and stick with it. I think the lock box is a reasonable solution, but if the company can afford it, they may be able to do something else. A book I was reading said that in many office buildings (I’m not sure how they came by the info), the thermostats are fake. The temperature is set at a thermostat that employees don’t have access to or even know about, so that if they try to adjust the temperature on the fake thermostat, they only think they’ve changed the temp. Having the real thermostat under lock and key in a utility closet and not telling employees about it would help. Then people can change the fake one all they want.

    Another idea is to put the hot employees closer to the AC vents and move the cold employees somewhere else. Likewise, they could cover certain vents so that all the cold air reaches the hot employees. The vents closest to the AC unit probably blow colder air anyway, so that could be a factor in deciding where people sit.

    1. Xay*

      “I assume the OP is somewhere far south, such as Florida, where people get used to warm temperatures.”

      My workplace in Florida would riot if the AC was set at 82 degrees.

      1. T*

        I totally get that, but I can’t imagine anyone up north being OK with that temperature range. I just figured, relatively speaking, 77-82 might seem so hot in an area already hot. Or something like that.

        My dad and brother both live in hot, desert parts of the US. My dad has no AC and is happy if it’s only in the 80s inside his house in the summer. My brother keeps his AC at full blast and doesn’t go outside during the warmer months any more than necessary.

  28. Brett*

    New buildings for our organization are switching to personal environmental control consoles installed into the desks. It is only feasible for new buildings, since retrofitting is expensive.

    But for new buildings, it is only slightly more expensive to install than conventional heating and cooling, and it has cut energy bills in half in those buildings (compared to new buildings with similar construction with conventional systems, not compared to the old buildings which already cost far more to heat and cool).

      1. Brett*

        We are… but we have also not had merit raises since 2006 nor cost of living adjustments since the late 80s.

  29. Allison*

    As much as I hate being cold at work (and I despise having to wear tights when it’s 90 degrees outside), I do think cooler is better for everyone. A warm office feels nice, but it can make people sluggish and sleepy. Whereas an office that’s a little on the cool side (not freezing, just cool) may actually boost productivity.

    That said, don’t overcompensate for hot weather. Just because it’s hot outside doesn’t mean your office has to be freezing, and if people are wearing sweaters and still shivering, you may want to turn the temperature up a few degrees.

  30. Elena*

    Get the cold blooded folks radiant space heaters to use under their desks. It’s a way to warm up just their immediate area, without warming everyone else beyond their comfort level. I have one made by Toasty Toes that has been helping me survive cold office climates for like a decade now

  31. OhNo*

    While in this case, I would side with the OP (who keeps their office at 82 degrees?!), I strongly disagree with Alison’s general advice to err on the colder side of things.

    As one person mentioned above, there are a lot of disabilities that make it difficult to warm up. Diabetes is one, for sure. I’m paraplegic, and if I get cold I can’t use any kind of heating device on my legs, because I can’t feel them and I run the risk of burning myself on accident (which I’ve actually done once, with a space heater; it wasn’t pleasant). I’m also not allowed to wear any sweaters considered “bulky” (read: hoodies, anything really thick or oversized, etc.) because my office’s dress code considers them unprofessional. So when my office is set too cold (which is always, since we don’t have control of the thermostat), I don’t have any good options to warm up.

    Personally, I think finding a middle ground is better advice. That way some people might be a little too warm, or a little too cold, but no one is going to be suffering from heat exhaustion or shivering all day from cold. So in a debate between 65 or 72 degrees, go somewhere around 68. In the OP’s case, it would be compromising around 79. (If such a compromise would be reasonable in this case, which it wouldn’t. Again, seriously, who sets their thermostat to 82 degrees??)

    1. Jamie*

      Absolutely ridiculous that your office dress code trumps being warm. If they don’t want you in bulk sweaters they shouldn’t keep you in a meat locker. And yes to health issues really factoring in how people respond to temperature. When I was severely anemic I was freezing all the time and nothing but a hot bath warmed me up, I’d shiver when it was 75 so I would be in layers, blankets, and hot drinks all year long.

      1. Ezri*

        I have anemia that comes and goes, and I run cold regardless. I didn’t realize how far off my conceptions of temperature were until I moved in with my now-husband and his brother and learned that normal people use their A/C in the summer. I’ll be fine when other people are sweltering, but I’m not a happy camper in the wintertime (which is why I’m very happy my job required moving south).

      2. OhNo*

        Tell me about it, I wish they would make some kind of concession to the temperature. But the people who set the dress code are also (conveniently enough) the people who get to set the temperature in the office, so there’s a bit of that whole “what do you mean you’re cold? it’s not cold, I feel fine. no, we can’t make an exception for you, just suck it up, the temperature is fine!” attitude going on.

        1. Windchime*

          Yes, or the people who set the dress code are the people who have private offices where they can control their own thermostats.

          When I’m up and moving around, a really cool space feels good to me. But if I’m sitting at a desk, that same temperature will feel really chilly. I notice this in restaurants especially. Because the wait staff is physically working hard and moving around, the temperatures are very cool. But the customers are all freezing! I normally run hot, but I always take an extra jacket and a scarf when I go out to eat.

  32. Malissa*

    For those who are constantly hot. They make a chill pad that you can put on your chair. That thing works great! I actually grabbed one from my ever hot coworker on a day when she wasn’t there and the AC broke. 90 degrees in the building and I was a happy camper on that thing. It also kept the rest of us from tying her to her chair when she threatened to have the thermostat set to 68.

    I think the line on how cold an office can be is drawn when people start having real trouble and pain from the cold. I drew the line at 72 in my old office. Lower than that and my fingers hurt too much to type.

  33. Darcie*

    I’m one of the people who likes it warmer. I share an office with a cold-lover (my boss). I have a space heater that I turn on when he’s not around. I wear layers like no one’s business and I’m still cold.

    Sometimes the office is so cold that my fingers are too cold to move and type. I think my boss would much prefer I actually be productive than not, so I battle him on the space heater every time he sees me using it and gives me a hard time.

    OP, I wonder if the heating system in your office works better in some areas than others. In my building, there are parts where the climate control works, and parts where it doesn’t. Try checking out other parts of the building and see if you can be moved to an area that’s just naturally cooler, like the north-facing side, or one that has outdoor trees.

    Really there’s no right or wrong here — our bodies are all work differently. I live in an upstairs suite with a woman who lives in the basement. For obvious reasons her suite gets cold when mine isn’t, but I’ll always turn up the heat when she asks. Being cold sucks.

  34. Jamie*

    Temp is one of those things where I have a preference, but I’m probably more flexible about this than any other area…as long as it’s within reason.

    I’m the layer up or down depending on what everyone else wants kind of person. At work that is – at home 70-72 or I’m leaving.

    I would suggest getting a portable thermometer and not going by the thermostat because it can vacillate wildly depending on where you’re sitting. In order to keep my house comfortable my bedroom is freezing because the crappy ventilation set up. Same with work – the therm can say 72 but no way is my office the same temp as the office 2 doors down – it’s really warm in there.

    1. Kelly*

      I came here to suggest this. I bought this digital thermometer for my cube:

      It shows the high & low for the day as well, except the way our HVAC is set up is to let the temp rise overnight. So right now it shows a current temp of 73, an all day low of 70 and an all day high of 77. But the 77 is probably from 4 or 5 in the morning when no one is in the office. The thermostat is currently set to 75.

      At a minimum, the digital thermometer provides some data that you can point back to. I like to look at it when I’m feeling cold or warm to give myself a self-check. However, thermometers only read temperatures, not airflows/fans/drafts. So the air temperature might be 72 but it feels like 70 to my body because of the speed of the air.

    2. Elsajeni*

      Yeah, I feel like step one for this office should be to get a thermometer and figure out what the actual temperature is in different areas. In my own house, the thermostat is on the upstairs landing, which is the warmest part of the house (heat rising from downstairs + multiple sunny windows), and we spend most of our time in the living room, which is the coldest (no sun-facing windows, high ceiling, multiple air vents); the result is that we have to set the thermostat 3 to 5 degrees warmer than the temperature we actually want. My guess is that something like this is going on, and that it’ll turn out that the thermostat is in the warmest part of the room and the “TURN IT BACK UP” people are sitting in the coldest spots.

  35. The IT Manager*

    I find the temps you’re fighting over very surprising. I fight thermostat wars too (or would if I could control the office thermostat), I am in the 77 degrees would be nice / office is too cold camp. Seriously, my office is probably in the upper 60s. I’d probably be happy if they could run it around 72 or so. Frankly I am super surprised to hear the temps you fight over because 77 degrees is certainly not a deep freeze especially when people wear business attire for work.

    Since I am cold everyday, I have a drawer full of sweaters to put on when it gets too cold. There’s your solution. Run the A/C at 77 and people who find that too cold just cover up – becasue really, 77 degrees is, in my experieince, definately on the high end of where peopl feel comfortable with the A/C. Many, many prefer low 70s/60s – usually not in their own homes though.

    FYI: I never wear sandals to the office because my feet would get cold and stay cold all day long.

  36. My 2 Cents*

    Keep in mind too that there are OSHA guidelines for the ideal temperature and humidity settings, which says (I think) between 68-76 degrees). We have nonstop problems because our building controls the temperature and they can never get us right. Their ASHRAE standards say a different temperature is ideal (which no surprise tells them to keep it warmer, which of course saves our building money) and I point out that we, as are they, are bound by OSHA, not ASHRAE, so we need to do what is required for our workplace safety and compliance.

    It’s a neverending battle.

    1. Laura*

      Much as I hate to say it, OSHA *recommends* that – but says they can’t really enforce it, as it’s a comfort, not safety, issue.

      I really hate to say it because I fear someday I may work in an office that wants to set the temperature to 77 or higher. Yikes.

    2. Kelly*

      OSHA = recommendation
      ASHRAE standards are adopted as building code in many areas.

      Try pointing them to ASHRAE Standard 55 – Occupant Comfort. This standard requires 80% or more of the building occupants to be comfortable. As you can see by this thread, 80% is almost impossible. Most of the real-life studies I’ve seen have maxed out around 70% – and this is when providing occupants with as much individual climate control options as the designer can. Most of the time the % is around 30.

  37. Seal*

    Many years ago I worked in an old library building with no air conditioning. It heated up to around 88 degrees in the summer and stayed that way for months. We had giant fans all over the place as well as fans at our desks which helped some, but ultimately you got used to working in a hot office. Everyone dressed appropriately, drank lots of water and weighted all of the paper on their desks down so they wouldn’t be blown away. Despite the fact that there wasn’t much else we could do, there were a few nutjobs who insisted that leaving the door to our staff only area open helped with air circulation. Not only did it not help at all, we also had to deal with users wandering around our staff area because the door was open. And then there were the people who thought it would help to put a single fan in a single window in a large room with about 20 windows. Again, not at all helpful, plus it looked ridiculous.

    When I later moved to a different building with air conditioning, there were a few weeks in the late fall before the heat was turned on where our offices were chilly, and again in early spring where our offices were hot and stuffy before the air conditioning was turned on. Announcements to that effect were sent out and people managed to dress accordingly.

    Having spent many summers with that level of crazy, I think your supervisor needs to have the final word on the thermostat. Cooler is better – I’ve found the most people are far more effective at their jobs when the temperature is moderate to cool. The 77-82 degrees the OP describes are too high – I’m surprised no one is claiming to be drowsy. As others have stated, people can add layers, but there are only so many layers of clothes you can take off in an office setting. And I very much like the idea of a lock box or something similar for the thermostat – that should put an end to the thermostat wars.

  38. JMegan*

    I’ve always wondered about this. I personally am a prefer-to-be-warmer, love-the-windows-open kind of person. But I work in an office, with 20-ish other people, who also have their own preferences, and I know that there is simply no way to make everyone happy. Really, this is one of Life’s Lessons – not just in terms of office heating, but in general. It’s just not possible to please all of the people all of the time.

    So the part I don’t understand, is why does my preference, or anyone’s preference, get to dictate what happens to everyone else? Sure, I can have a preference for flavoured vs non-flavoured coffee, and someone can have a different preference, which is easy enough to accommodate. But something like air temperature – I just see it as a feature of the office, like the colour of the carpet or the location of the washroom. The decision is made based on what’s best for the group, and once made it’s not up for discussion. Individuals can like it or not like it, but that’s beside the point unless there’s a real need to change it. (This could include Reynauds and other circulatory issues, or I suppose if your office was staffed entirely by menopausal women, you might make a different calculation.)

    This sounds a lot grumpier than I actually feel! I guess the TL;DR is that individual preferences shouldn’t matter in a case like this. Groups of people need to learn to get along with one another, which often means compromising to meet everyone’s needs. Everybody doesn’t get to vote on every issue – sometimes you just need to make a decision and move on.

    1. Mike C.*

      The dictation of preference comes from the simple fact that one can put more layers on, but often cannot take layers off.

      Thus, if the temperature is kept cooler, the folks who like it cool are fine and the folks who like it warm put on some more clothes and are less happy, but are still at a comfortable temperature. Conversely, if the temperature is kept in the upper ranges, the folks who like it warm are happy, and the folks who are now sweating bullets have no recourse. Thus keeping it slightly cool maximizes happiness/productivity/etc. Independent of temperature, you can also explore moving people towards/away from vents.

      Saying “well you can’t please everyone all the time” and making some arbitrary choice that ignores obvious optimization is bad idea. The color of the carpet won’t affect my productivity, and the location of the washroom inside a reasonable distance won’t either.

      1. JMegan*

        I’m not suggesting making an arbitrary choice, or ignoring optimization. I’m suggesting that maybe this should be one of those things that most people don’t get to weigh in on. I would imagine that people jumping up and down to adjust the thermostat several times a day is also impacting productivity, not to mention the debate that probably comes with it! So some (ideally) neutral person picks an optimal temperature that will have the least impact on overall productivity, the temperature is set, and everyone moves on.

        For context, I come from an environment where we had a manager fly to another city with carpet samples so everyone in the office could vote on which shade of mottled grey they preferred; and another office where it took five managers more than ten meetings to agree on a particular setting for the photocopiers.

        So I’m very much in the “too much collaboration can definitely be a bad thing” camp. Just because it’s theoretically possible for everyone to get a vote on the office temperature, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea.

        1. Covering my tush*

          Copier setting meetings! I’ve seen stuff like that in my organization.

          And afterward, I dug into the settings menus and set the control panel to invert the colors. It had zero effect on the operation of the copier or any of the settings that the meetings had been about, just a different look to the control panel. You’d think someone had set a flatulent rabid badger loose in the office. They called the copier leasing company, and since the service person didn’t know his stuff, he replaced the control panel. That obviously didn’t fix it so the copier company sent us a completely new copier so they could send that one back to figure out what happened.

          I left the new one alone, I’d had my enjoyment.

  39. Andrea*

    Yep, I have a solution: Let everyone work remotely.

    Okay, of course I know this isn’t feasible in all industries and companies, but I also believe that it is in many of them, but that those companies are being run by traditional folks who feel like they need to see people at desks in an office together every day or something equally odd. And certainly there are those who don’t want to work remotely, either.

    But I love setting the thermostat at whatever I want (typically it’s at 75 in the summer (a little cooler in the winter, but I tend to drink a lot of hot tea and wear a sweatshirt then); 77 is pushing it, and 82 is both insane and intolerable), and I especially love being able to control my work environment so that it is exactly what I need to be productive—no smells, noises, clothing, or temperatures that I don’t like or find uncomfortable.

    Maybe this doesn’t help the OP; I’m sorry. But these thermostat wars are ridiculous. And erring on the side of cooler is always better and most reasonable.

  40. Christina*

    Space heaters and sweaters (I already wear a jacket every day and have a heavy sweater I use as a blanket) don’t help my freezing cold hands, and it’s hard to type when I’m alternately sitting on one hand or the other. It’s barely 70 outside and rainy and damp, there is absolutely no reason that the AC should be running all morning.

    I generally agree that it’s easier to warm up than to cool off, and would even be happy if the thermostat was set to 74 (though in a perfect world, we’d just have windows that could be opened so I can dress appropriately for the actual weather instead of awful recirculated air) but there’s no sane reason for a normal office thermostat to be set at 58, which ours was last week. My fingers were turning blue.

  41. Rebecca*

    As someone who endures an office where the air vent does not work at all (no aircon in summer, no heat in winter), 77 degrees is too warm for me, and 82 is unacceptable. My office temperature goes over 80 degrees regularly in the summer, even with a fan blowing cold air from across the hall, and I keep a small fan on my desk. It’s miserable, but thankfully for only a few months. When winter really kicks in, Dec through Feb, the ladies on each side of me are always cold and have space heaters, so it’s about 66-70, and I’m comfortable.

    IMO, it’s much easier for people to bundle up than to strip down. Set the thermostat at 72 and be done with it.

  42. Christy*

    How on earth can they want to set it at 82? And to whomever doesn’t think people feel a temperature swing of five degrees, have you worked in an office with thermostat problems? It’s different sitting at home, but I will shiver at 70 degrees and sweat at 74 degrees. My office had a problem with being 76 degrees for a while and it was unbearable.

    Setting the thermostat at 82 is out of control unreasonable. I can’t even fathom.

    1. OP*

      Hi Christy! And yes, it’s amazing how much of a temperature change five degrees makes. I live in California, and to make it crazier, my office is literally a rectangular box with high ceilings. It gets unbelievably warm and stuffy when it goes up to 82, but that’s the comfortable resting temperature for the two gals who like it warm. They don’t like to layer up though, and walk around wearing sandals, skirts and t-shirts (we have a casual office).

    2. Jen RO*

      I am pretty sure I wouldn’t feel the difference. I don’t get really hot (wearing regular summer clothes) until 27C (80F) or so.

  43. Eva*

    I’ve never had any luck convincing anyone of the merits of the following approach, but my tried-and-true tactic for dealing with overly hot office environments is to wear an item of wet clothing. For instance, I’ll wear a plain long-sleeved shirt that I’ve thoroughly soaked and then wrung so it doesn’t drip before putting it on. People can’t tell unless they touch me. It hasn’t been a problem for me because my workplaces have always been informal and there’s always been someone who was weirder than me. It brings relief for a few hours and then I can just go to the bathroom and repeat the wetting and wringing procedure. OK, you can stare at me like I’m crazy now!

    1. Jamie*

      I don’t think you’re crazy and it’s great if it works for you, it just sounds so uncomfortable to me! I would be so miserable sitting around in a damp shirt all day. So is the wet shirt under another shirt, or it’s the only one you have on?

      1. Eva*

        It’s the only one I have on. And for me it’s not uncomfortable (except for the first few seconds before the water heats up to my body temperature). Also, my alternative has been sweating which I loathe with a passion, so it’s the devil I choose. :)

    2. OP*

      Thank you, Eva! I like the suggestion and might do that at home where I could change after 10 mins or so, but it’s not quite appropriate for my office environment :)

  44. Haleyca*

    I’m a generally cold person, but I think my office is freezing regardless. It is extremely hot outside here in the summer and lots of places like to overcompensate with blasting AC. Quite a few people in my office keep sweaters around (and I always bring one), but it is still not enough. I can’t exactly wear a huge fuzzy sweatshirt or a knitted sweater in the office where I am supposed to look professional, so if it is so cool that normal sweaters and blazers can’t cut it I’d say there is a problem. Not to mention the cold fingers and other problems that cannot be fixed by simply layering with more clothes.

    Also, there is the issue of commuting to consider. I live in a city and walk to work (about 25 minutes). Every day is a delicate balance between what I can wear to work to not freeze and what I can wear to walk to work and not boil. Walking means I have to carry everything to an from work with me, so I can’t exactly carry an extra outfit in my bag to change into when I get to the office and I shouldn’t have to. People commuting on the subway or other public transit probably have similar problems (overcrowded trains are hot as well). It is easy to keep the temperature at some level that people won’t have to completely change their outfit when they get in to work.

  45. Laura*

    I was in a situation like this in grad school. I was usually the first one in the office in the morning, and, I’m not proud of this, but I’d turn the thermostat down low, much lower than I really wanted it (say, 72), so that when the next person turned it up, it would still not be too warm. Problem was they did the same thing, turning it up much higher than they really wanted so that when I turned it back down they wouldn’t freeze. At one point, it was 85 degrees in that room in December, which was absurd. That’s when we realized it had really gotten out of control, s we all sat down and had a conversation and decided that if we kept the thermostat at 76 (I think), I could bring a fan and they could bring sweaters and we could all live with that.

    Good luck. Those few weeks were stressful and uncomfortable and I feel for you!

    1. BRR*

      That reminds me of when I was in undergrad and 2 of the 3 randomly assigned people in my apt liked it cold. The third got mad one night and turned it up so high the heat clicked on in August. Perhaps he overcompensated.

    2. Jen RO*

      In my office, the temp got really high in the morning, so the first person to arrive always turned the A/C on to the minimum temp, and then the person who sat next to the A/C would turn it to a regular temp when she got in. This worked fine, until person number 2 was on holiday and it took the rest of us a day to figure out why we were freezing…

  46. OP*

    Thank you all for your tips! Some of the solutions are so creative. For those who prefer it more on the warm side, how would you prefer to be told that it’s just too hot to work comfortably? The problem with one of the gals I work with is that she’s got seniority and has sat at her desk (which is right below the air vent) for years and refuses to give it up, because it’s the biggest space in our office. Reconfiguring isn’t an option, so I’ve got to figure out how to tell her it’s just too hot to work. She walks around in tank tops and is basically stick thin so I think she’s just naturally colder. The rest of us are a little afraid to cross her, since she’s the boss’ best friend, so we usually end up sweating it out. It’s been miserable though, with the heat wave we’ve been having in California! Any suggestions of politely broaching the topic would be great :)

    1. Mallorie, the recruiter*

      I am always hot, but I do keep a sweater at my desk (I call it my desk sweater, I’ve never worn it outside of sitting at my desk!) so I might offer it to someone if they were cold. Maybe you could just try explaining that its hard to concentrate with it being so hot and stuffy? When I get too hot, I feel like my brain just stops working. I imagine it saying, “too hot, taking a nap now, bye”.

    2. HeyNonnyNonny*

      As someone who would love to have an office that’s set at 82, I think I’d be swayed by a “needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” argument. If someone told me, “it’s too hot,” my response would be, “well, your temperature is just too cold for ME to work!” But if there was some sort of meeting or vote where everyone could compare notes, I’d feel guilty for making others uncomfortable.

      Since reconfiguring is out, can you just close or block the vent above her desk?

      1. Another Cat*

        +1 could you use a piece of cardboard to redirect the air flow from her vent, so it doesn’t blow directly on her?

      2. Not So NewReader*

        This is what I was thinking, too. Using some type of a deflector, or maybe a fan in front of the vent can push the colder air out into the room more.

    3. Ann O'Nemity*

      I would say something like, “82 is too hot for many people to be comfortable and productive. OSHA recommends employers maintain workplace temperatures in the range of 68-76 degrees Fahrenheit. Could we keep the temperature at the high end of that range?”

    4. Decimus*

      So the issue is actually the vent being directly over the senior employee. Given you can’t change her location, can you change the angle of the vent? Depending on how good you are with handiwork, you could try doing something like using duct tape and cardboard to direct the vent at an angle – not cutting it off, just angling the air to one side or another so it wouldn’t be blowing directly DOWN on the senior employee.

      1. Mike C.*

        They make expanding plastic vent directors. They have magnets attached but are otherwise clear (are hard to notice) and can easily redirect flow away from a particular area. They’re really cheap as well.

        1. OP*

          Thanks! I’ll look into the vent attachments. The company probably won’t like duct tape and cardboard, but something plastic and attachable sounds perfect.

          1. Jen RO*

            We use those transparent plastic folders (they probably have a name in English, but I can’t think of it now) and scotch tape. Doesn’t look amazing, but better than cardboard at least!

  47. Nicole*

    This thread reminds me of a couple of funny stories from previous jobs.

    Many moons ago I worked in a call center where the dress code was pretty much nonexistent. During the summer one girl would come in wearing short-shorts and a skimpy shirt and constantly be complaining about how cold she was and would be literally shivering (and you could see the goosebumps on her). One day I asked her why she didn’t wear more clothes and she said, “Uh, it’s 80+ degrees outside!” like I was the idiot. Ok then, continue to dress for the outdoors when you’re indoors for 8 hours, see if I care. :)

    At my last job they must have kept the thermostat in the 60 degree range because it was beyond freezing. They allowed space heaters though, so I had mine running all the time, even more so in the summer than the winter. I lost track of how many people who would stop by my desk, spot the heater and/or feel the warm air, and make a comment such as, “why do you have a space heater on when it’s so hot outside?” Perhaps because the outside temperature has little to do with how it feels inside? *Shaking my head*

    1. Anonyby*

      I can understand the temptation to dress for warmer weather–when I head out to my car to go get lunch, it’ll be in the high 90s in the car, and the AC in it won’t kick on for a couple minutes. If I’m dressed for a very cold office, then when I get back from lunch I’m sweating like a pig and going back into a place where I’m freezing. There’s no good balance.

      1. HeyNonnyNonny*

        Yeah, I walk to a bus stop, take the bus, walk to a metro station, ride the metro, and then walk to my office. I know that my office will be a different temperature than the outdoors, but that doesn’t mean I can just ignore the weather, either.

        1. Turanga Leela*

          Public transit commuting in summer is rough. I’ve managed it (in a VERY cold office) with creative layering and some changing when I got there. My experience was always that the train and the office were cold, while the walk between them was roasting—hard to plan for.

          1. anonintheuk*

            I find this time of year (and I suppose April and May) hard in terms of knowing what to wear, because the temperature can be in single figures Celsius when I leave my house, and 27C by mid-afternoon.

  48. Auditoholic*

    If it were set to 77 everyday, I would go home sick frequently. I cannot be that warm on a consistent basis – it’s a migraine trigger. 72 is where it starts to be too warm (yes, even just sitting at a desk all day) and by 77, I would be sensitive to light, sounds, etc and need migraine meds and rest. I can’t imagine this doesn’t make others physically ill as well.

  49. Mallorie, the recruiter*

    Not sure if this was suggested in the comments already, but maybe you could try to compromise as an “every other day” thing? Set it at 77 one day, 82 the next. Its not perfect, but then at least both sides get to be comfortable half the time? Though can I say, 77 would even be too hot for me. 82?! I would die. Literally. Die.

  50. Cheryl Becker*

    I have fought the thermostat wars everywhere I worked. And I think I have always taken in my own fan to help me keep cool-ish. I am in the group for whom 77F is WAY too hot. And I also always think, I absolutely canNOT take anything more off! But I do understand that people who are always cold feel the same way–they can’t put anything more on! Or, as someone else said, a sweater doesn’t really help. Arggh. What IS the answer?? I do like the suggestions about moving the desks/cubes around, but really, sometimes that doesn’t help either. So glad I’m finally retired!–but I still have to fight the war with my hubby.

  51. cuppa*

    I am also a usually cold person, but I agree that it is easier for me to wear a sweater and have others comfortable . We usually know that it’s too hot in here when I am comfortable. Sometimes I need a cup of tea or I walk around a bit to warm up, but usually I can get by with just a sweater. But I think 77 would be much too hot for me.
    Also, I bought a hot water bottle with a cute sweater cover last winter and it is pretty much the greatest thing ever. I can sit with it in my lap and it really warms me up nicely (great for cramps, too!)

  52. Anonyby*

    Oh man, air wars… I admit, I’m always running cold and would rather be warmer (too cold and I start getting sleepy, partly as an avoidance issue!). I admit that I’ve already given in and accepted that any office comfortable for me is too warm for everyone else. And we had an issue one weekend at my previous office, in winter. The pilot light went out on the heating unit and I didn’t report anything unusual. I was freezing a little more than usual, but it was also during a cold snap and I attributed it to that and just did my normal job while shivering and miserable.

    At my current office… The AC up front is broken. I’m pretty comfortable, but it’s miserable for everyone else in the front, especially in the conference room with floor-to-ceiling windows that get the morning sun. Meanwhile, my administrator is an even bigger fan of warm than me, but her office sits right under where four AC lines meet up. Even with the vents blocked and the front AC broken her office is still a freezer.

    Today I’m subbing at an office that likes it REALLY cold. As in I dressed a bit on the warmer side, but I still started shivering and getting goosebumps when I walked in. And then their routine is to turn the AC even further down in the morning, so I’m going to be pretty miserable for awhile. Usually I’m more comfortable when I return from lunch, so I’m hoping that will be the case today.

  53. Another Cat*

    The stylists at a local hair salon had their thermostat locked out by management, but since management is rarely there, they haven’t realized how hot the salon gets. So when it gets too stuffy, the stylists go over and run a hair dryer on the thermostat until the AC kicks on. It’s pretty funny, and effective too.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      One place I worked someone figured out a paper clip would fit in between the narrow openings in the locked box. Since the thermostat had a dial with “teeth” on it, it was easy to get the paper clip into the box and incrementally bump the temp up or down by pushing on the “teeth”.

      This effectively rendered the locking box useless.

  54. Ryehick*

    Our company locks the thermostat at a set temperature. No one can change it. I like being warm, so I usually have a sweater and blanket on most days.

  55. MnGreeneyes*

    My office mate is originally from Malawi and I am from the upper Midwest in the US. We share an office in Minnesota. We have no control over our actual thermostat, but she has a space heater and I have a fan. We share a very small office. I dressed in short sleeves and layers year round and she always has a blanket handy. After sweating through so many days, my supervisor and I talked and decided to purchase my office mate the largest heating pad we could find. It covers her entire seat and part of the back of her chair. I no longer need my fan and she gave away her heater! She still sometimes uses the blanket (which I crocheted for her) when the AC comes on, but its not very often.

    1. Jen RO*

      I used to share an office with a guy who ran hot. In winter, he would be wearing a t-shirt and I would be wearing a thick sweater. I was actually worried that we would have temperature wars, but it worked out great because we were aware from the start that we have different comfortable temperature levels.

  56. soitgoes*

    This is probably going to sound horrible, but I’ve noticed that the dynamic embedded in thermostat wars tends to have overweight men always being hot and the average-weight women always being cold. One time a heavy man in my office lost a significant amount of weight, and all of a sudden he started complaining about the cold.

    This isn’t something that can be diplomatically brought up, and obviously people of all weight deserve to be comfortable, but I think it’s worth keeping in mind that personal comfort levels are not the same things as norms. When the 300-lb man in my office insists that keeping it as cold as he likes is the “normal” way of things, it’s all I can do to not argue with that.

    1. m*

      Completely disagree with this. I’m a slightly under weight female and am comfortable at about 68 – 70. I’ve worked with a slightly overweight woman before who would put the heating up so high everyone else in the office would get a migraine

    2. Elsajeni*

      Broadly speaking, I think there are patterns related to both gender (women seem more likely to complain of being cold, men of being warm) and body size (smaller people get cold more easily, bigger people overheat), but that doesn’t really affect what the solution should be — as you say, everyone deserves to be comfortable. The reason you shouldn’t keep it as cold as that one guy wants isn’t that he’s heavy, it’s that he’s the only person who wants it that cold and the rest of you outvote him, exactly the same as if he were the thinnest person in your office and wanted it significantly warmer than everyone else.

      1. soitgoes*

        I was commenting more on the way everyone tends to think that their preferences are normal, without considering whether anything else about their bodies, habits, and quirks are actually well-represented across the board. I’m talking about shooting down that one particular false-argument: “But everyone likes it colder!” Well no, only you (the person speaking) do. Yes, vote away, but don’t let it boil down to lies about what’s normal.

  57. Tricia c*

    No advice, but your coworkers are out of line. I get cold easily, and 77 is totally comfortable for me. 82 is too warm, unless you’re just trying to save money on the electric bill.

  58. College Career Counselor*

    Like many here, I’m a prefers-cold person, which translates to being comfortable at 66-68 degrees. Unfortunately just about everywhere I’ve ever worked, the HVAC system was either erratic or non-functional. My previous office regularly swung between 62 degrees (uncomfortably chilly for prolonged periods, even for me) and 84 degrees IN THE SAME DAY. Black-out curtains didn’t help because the afternoon sun just heated up the whole side of the building. In the winter, opening windows didn’t help because the building was positively pressurized so that the air could only flow out (and was merely replaced by even more hot air).

    In my current building, all the offices have fans (no A/C in the building), which helps only up to a point. For me that point is about 75F. That’s when I start concocting meetings and errands to go to in the air-conditioned parts of campus.

  59. LizNYC*

    Team Easier To Warm Up Than Cool Down! 68 Degrees Forever!

    And I’m coming from an experience where my office didn’t have heat for two days a few winters ago, so my cubemates and I were all wearing our parkas and gloves. Typing was not fun, but the hot chocolate to compensate was great!

  60. QK*

    I’m pretty much always on the “I’m too cold!” side of the thermostat wars, but I gladly cede that ground to my warmer colleagues*. It’s very easy for me to keep a scarf or sweater by my desk. (In fact, scarves have become a pretty solid staple of my office wardrobe for that very reason.) Problem solved!

    *Within reason–once our thermostat sensor wasn’t working for several days and it got down below 60F. I was pretty vocal about “hey I know I’m always cold, but this is like seriously cold and we’re probably wasting lots of money”. I shudder to think of our office electricity bill that month!

  61. Mouse*

    I used to share an cubicle with someone who was always cold. In the summer, she would be layered up with long-sleeved shirts, sweaters and socks and I would be in a short-sleeved t-shirt, light-weight pants, underwear and no hose. We got along most of the time with me pared down, her bundled up and the vent over us partially blocked, but I do remember absolutely losing control and shrieking “do I have to just strip naked??!!!?? turn that thing down!!” at her one hot summer afternoon (Southeast USA – high 90’s) when she had turned the thermostat way up while I was out of the cube in a meeting. I thought the guy in the next cubicle was going to choke to death laughing.

  62. Gene*

    No thermostat wars in our office. Five guys, the thermostat has been set for a low of 69 and a high of 72 since the one woman who worked here left 15 years ago.

  63. Christine*

    My husband used to do HVAC controls work, and he had a number of client offices where there was a nonworking thermostat left on a wall for people to fiddle with, and the actual AC controls were handled on a network portal that the building’s maintenance had access to. :)

    I tend to be cold – and being cold is more than just being physically uncomfortable. When I am cold, my joints ache, my muscles tend to tense, which leads to muscle pain and leaves me feeling tense and irritable. I have a hard time concentrating and I absolutely cannot relax. Drinking hot beverages helps a LOT – between putting something warm into my core and giving me something warm to wrap my hands around. I also wear layers – sweaters are good, but a light snug layer under the clothes and close to the skin is a huge help, actually, and can work with a lot of business clothing.

    My stance on the thermostat wars is budget related rather than comfort related, usually. The frugal me hates the idea of paying to be on the unseasonable side of uncomfortable – i.e. cold inside in summer, hot inside in winter. If I’m going to be uncomfortable, I’d rather err on the side of being cheaply so!

  64. Not So NewReader*

    I worked in a retail place that an odd set up. The temperature in the store was controlled by a computer several states away. Since that state was more northern and probably colder this sounds like it would mean the store would be too hot.

    No. It was 45 degrees in my department. We complained and it fell on deaf ears. I reached a point where I dreaded going to work. We were not allowed to wear sweaters. I used turtlenecks and silk thermals. My hands were blue and my nose was constantly red. Finally, I just started wearing sweaters because I could not cope. I would sit outside for my break and on a 90 degree day with a sweater on, hoping to warm up enough during my break to complete my shift.

    It took about a year or longer AFTER I quit the job to stop dreading the cold at work. My next job had a vent with a blower that focused on one work area. I finally got it through my traumatized brain that I could get away from this vent and go do other things. It funny how something stays with you for a while.

    1. Angora*

      When I was living in Louisiana I got a temp job that stuck us in a conference room. We figured out that it was our boss that controlled the temperature and he ran quite warm and wore a suit. The building wasn’t evenly heated; the center space would freeze & the offices with windows ran warm. We all got so we would go sit in our cars at lunch and warm up. I fell asleep out there one day and got a severe sunburn; thank goodness I always sat the timer of my cell so I would get back in time. 90 degree weather, wrapped up in heavy sweaters and wearing socks to work.

      Socks and stockings make a huge difference if your office space is cold. Same with cuddle duds or tanks under your clothing.

  65. Angora*

    We ended up putting a lock box on it … we had a couple people going through menopause that would drive the rest of us crazy. Than you had men wearing sports jackets & ties that would yank it down and freeze everyone. This is in Fl.

    I am serious we put a lock box on it. We had a temp going through menopause that threw a screaming fit at me one day when I raised it back up. She had yanked it down to the low 70’s and we were all freezing. They got rid of her that evening. I kept a sweater at my desk and a blanket because the conference room was like an ice box if the rest of the office was comfortable. Quite a few people borrowed the blanket for when they had to sit in the conference room for a long period. One of my co-workers had a lap blanket, the AC blew directly on her and she was slender.

  66. DW*

    The guidelines for temperature setpoints are 68f for the winter; heat won’t come on til temp drops to 68f.
    The summer setpoint can vary between companies, setpoint is usually 74f to 76f; A/C won’t come on til temp rises to the setpoint.
    Note that a lot of offices, most large box retail stores have automation with remote monitoring; if maintenance or a HVAC contractor changes the setpoints administrators can possibly find out who made the changes and when; some of the automation systems have individual passwords and pin number which can be taken away by a system administrator; that person won’t be able to log into automation system to change setpoints.
    Managers, supervisors, district managers, etc have no say in the temperature setpoints; this is a decision at a corporate level.
    This has been my experience working for HVAC contractors.
    Some systems may also be setup to control humidity levels, I don’t have recommended setpoints for humidity.

  67. HR Manager*

    Female here too and 77 is already crazy uncomfortable, especially if you’re in an office with a lot of computer equipment. I am always warm, so an office temp of 82 would be unbearable for me. A temp of 77 can’t make the IT folks too happy either (even if it doesn’t effect the server room).

  68. mel*

    Oh man I’m so jelly of these office wars sometimes! “Too Hot” for my workplace is around 34C and above, but we have to wear thick layers of clothing because it’s a kitchen and bare legs/feet isn’t allowed :( . Winter is around 10C indoors. I hate seasons!

    But we still have temp wars in the winter, I guess. It goes like this: “OMG IT’S COLD IN HERE, SHUT THE DAMN DOOR!” hahaha.

  69. Admin in TX*

    We have this same problem in our office. Our thermostats are controlled by calling a centralized number to have them change it as needed, but with 1/2 of the office being too hot and 1/2 of the office being too cold, they are constantly changing the temp. I’m on team too hot and keep my desk fan blowing at all times. It helps somewhat, but it’s highly irritating.

  70. Rochelle*

    I have been dealing with the Workplace Temperature War myself now for the past few months. I even moved cubicals, because mine was too hot. I moved to a cube that has a vent over it, so that I can get some air. As soon as I moved there, two people complained that it was too cold in the office. ( our office is 72 – 74F), and had what little cool air that was coming out of my vent completely shut off. At first their excuse was, ” you are the only one complaining, majority rules, etc). So, I was able to find 3 more people who also felt it was too hot. Now the excuse is that they can’t do anything, because of of the way the building air/heat system is designed. In other words, they found another reason to say no. I currently have two fans at my desk and will be bringing in a third fan from home. Sorry people, but it is much easier to layer up when one is cold than to layer down. You can easy purchase space heaters, gloves, jackets, as has already been mentioned. I get it, majority rules, but in my case, if your boss is too cold, everyone else in the office is SOOL. It’s not so much the warmth that bothers me, its the uncirculated air. I didn’t want the AC turned on necessarily, I only suggested turning down the heat a few degrees – comprimising. The standing, sweltering climate in my office makes me feel sluggish and gives me headaches. But since it’s not affecting the bosses ( who have their own offices and don’t sit with the rest of us) aren’t bothered, I have been pretty told that it’s my imagination, even though others have agreed with me. I have been there 14 years, and this has only been a problem the past two months. That certainly has to say something.

  71. Jake*

    77 vs 82? ouch. both sound like hell to me!

    I once house-sat for some friends in rural New Mexico in the winter. they asked me to keep the heater to a minimum to save on the propane bill, so I just let the temperature drop. I keep doing office-type activities on the computer for about 2 days before I realized “this is getting cold even for me. I should put on a jacket”.

    it was 27 in the house.

  72. Kayla*

    It’s April and barely above 57 outside and my coworker turned the thermostat down to 68 and then flips out on everyone who turns it off. The other 15 people in the office are freezing to death. Sometimes, I’m unable to type because I can’t feel my fingers.

    Time for a lockbox, if you ask me.

  73. BigGuy*

    I think some people just love living in hell :)
    For all others anything close to 72 is perfect.

  74. IceGuy*

    It’s mid april, so here in the UK it’s roughly 60f outside, this is fine, but when ONE person in our office refuses to let us turn the heating down inside or open a window it’s infuriating. It regularly gets close to 28C which most people in our office agrees is way too warm, but we have to bend to the will of this one person.

    It’s always the same 1-2 women who complain about being cold, even though there are other women in the office who are suffering just as much as most of the men. But we are just told to “wear fewer layers” or “it’s not warm, you’re imagining it” We shouldn’t have to sweat at our desks for hours waiting for them to leave so we can crack a window and finally be comfortable at work.

  75. WinterIsComing*

    I work at a financial institution and we wear business formal for most of the year and business casual for about 3 months during summer season. Each branch is different. Some are required to wear business formal (jacket and tie) year round. I am a woman who works on the south facing side of the building and it’s always TOO WARM! I agree with everyone that says the cold people have options! Half of them have space heaters at their desks. I cannot take off any more layers without maintaining a modicum of decency! Unless you’re going to let me sit there in a swimming suit… I don’t think so. I cannot do anything more to “cool” myself down. I don’t even have hot coffee or tea in the morning because it will warm me up too much.

    The worst part is when I go to the lunch room and the women who work in the north side of the building have cranked up the heat and it’s a bloody sauna in there. The room is so stuff and HOT that I have to crack open the back door and hear them complain about how they haven’t warmed up yet. I can’t even breath with the air so thick. It’s really unfair when they come to work in skirts, sandals, sleeveless blouses and complain about being cold. I dress like it’s summer all year long because they keep the temperature so high.

    What a shame people can’t dress appropriately and make others suffer.

  76. Malau*

    I don’t think warming up is easier than cooling down. First because hypothermia is a very well known situation, whereas very little is known about hyperthermia, which statistically tends to indicate that the occurrence of hypothermia is more prevalent. As far as I know recovery from winter hyporthermia takes hours and at least one day under surveillance in a hospital. So I cannot see how fighting to keep your body warm enough to prevent drowsiness (which occurs rather fast in hypothermia) is beneficial to 1. the health of those suffering from it and 2. their productivity.
    I believe this bias is one of the absurd outcomes of running after the warrior model, he who fights in his bare-skin underwear in the midst of ice covered environments. honestly, I am happy for anyone who wishes to achieve this result to pursue it as long as it does not require me to buy into it.

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