Dubai: Multiple studies have assessed indoor temperature and work productivity. The conclusion is while in general people should set their AC to 22-25°C while working from home for productivity, it’s a setting of 22°C that facilitates the most productive outputs.
According to scientific research compiled by cooling company Taqeef, indoor temperature can have a direct impact on at-home productivity, learning and overall wellbeing.
In studies, employees demonstrated a 2 per cent decrease in productivity and increase in errors for every 1° over 25°C. A survey study published in Facilities Management Journal also revealed nearly 1/3 of workers lose productivity and 29 per cent of them are unable to focus and work efficiently on average between 10 and 30 minutes per day due to unsuitable AC temperatures.
The research showed that successful outcomes for routine tasks could be impacted by just a few degrees, and according to psychologist Dr. Saliha Afridi, PsyD (US) Clinical Psychologist, Managing Director of LightHouse Arabia, these findings could be a useful tool for living, working and learning successfully at home during current movement restrictions.
Here is what the data shows:
• 24°C is the optimal standard temperature for human occupancy and energy efficiency
• A slightly cooler temperature of 22°C effectively aids the highest level of work productivity for men and children
• Women have better mental agility at higher temperatures: 26°C
• Uninterrupted sleep is better achieved in cooler temperatures: 20°C
• Exercise is also more effective at cooler temperatures: 20°C-21°C
Commenting on the research compilation, Dr. Saliha said, “So many of us discount the importance of the environment on our mood and activity. The truth is that our environment, and with it the temperature in that environment, has such a profound effect on how productive we are, as well as how deeply we sleep or how energetic we feel. A difference of a few degrees can have a significant impact on how optimally you function, how engaged you are, and how rested you feel.”
According to an experiment conducted by USC Marshall School of Business, women benefit from a temperature of 26°C or more when working at home. The study further elaborated that women worked better as the temperatures rose, while the reverse effect was observed for men. When the temperature was over 26°C, female performance increased by 27 per cent compared to temperature below 21°C .
Christina Maroudias, a Dubai resident told Gulf News, "I am happiest at 22°C to 23°C, but since I live in a smaller apartment, it gets cold quite fast."
Shady Fekri on the other hand, prefers arctic conditions. The Dubai resident said to Gulf News, "For me to function perfectly, I need it to be cold. When I was in the office, the temperature would be at 21°C, but if it were up to me, I prefer a temperature of 16°C. I move a lot, so that's the ideal temperature for me.
The best temperature for children to learn in?
Children are more susceptible to environmental conditions and work better in slightly colder environments, according to a study by Technical University of Denmark that looked into the effects of HVAC on student performance. Findings showed that when temperature was reduced from 25°C to 20°C, test performance significantly improved in terms of speed. A similar experiment demonstrated results where students performed best when the AC was set to 22°C with test scores averaging in the 90th percentile.
"My son focuses more on tasks at hand when our home is at 23°C, he starts to get sleepy and moves a lot slower when the AC isn't set to that," Sara Hany, a Dubai resident, told Gulf News.
Best temperature to sleep in?
The American Sleep Association found out that cooler temperatures between 14-20°C equate to better sleep, because internal temperature drops while sleeping. While the body is the coolest in the deepest phases of sleep, cooler room temperatures helps achieve the best state of sleep. The optimum temperature for sleeping is anywhere between 14°C and 20°C. However, a study explained that setting the AC temperature too low for too long can negatively affect immune systems. Furthermore, temperature should increase over the span of the night within the range of 20°C – 32°C.
"I always sleep with my AC set on 20°C. It helps me stay asleep," Manar Hussein, a Sharjah resident told Gulf News. "I even use a cooling duvet."
"I sleep at 24°C," Ali Ahmed told Gulf News. "I do not like sleeping when it's freezing cold. I know that's too warm for some people, but it's just the way I prefer it."
Temperature, mood and mental health
Humid environments increase fatigue and reduced positive mood, making people feeling more lethargic. Warmer temperatures lead to a decrease in people’s mood and mental health, while cooler temperatures decrease the level of adverse mental health outcomes. Additionally, warmer temperatures increase negative health outcomes, leading to more violent behavior and aggression .
Temperature and exercise
Medical experts from Duke University and Fitness Center say that temperatures between 20°C and 22°C is the optimal temperature for working out. Though personal preference varies to some degree, as some people sweat more than others during exercise, but 20°C is the optimal average temperature for most people. A study led by professors at Maastricht University Medical Centre also showed results supporting regular exposure to cold air to be beneficial to increase energy expenditure.
"I actually prefer warmer temperatures when I work out, because it gets me to that sweaty zone much faster. Sometimes I will even work out outside, so on good days that's at 26°C or 27°C. But my gym was usually a comfortable 23°C,"Christian Thomson, a Dubai based trainer, told Gulf News.
“While there are many variables that affect thermal comfort, like clothing, humidity, heat sources and activity levels – we felt some guidelines on completing tasks in certain temperatures could be a useful reference point,” comments Tariq Al Ghussein, Chairman and CEO at Taqeef.