In news that will resonate with anyone who feels personally victimised by their office air con, scientists have revealed that our brains operate more efficiently when we work in a warmer office.
For the study, 550 German college students completed a series of tasks in rooms that were set to a variety of different temperatures. When the air con was set to high, the women performed better on maths and verbal tasks, while the men did better in chillier environments.
“Our findings suggest that gender mixed workplaces may be able to increase productivity by setting the thermostat higher than current standards,” the study’s co-author Agne Kajackaite, an ethics and behavioural economics researcher at the Berlin Social Science Centre said.
“Temperature could affect not just the comfort, but the everyday performance of people.”
Full disclosure, there wasn’t a huge difference in the results: for each one-degree Celsius increase in temperature, women answered 1.75 per cent more maths questions and 1 per cent more verbal questions correctly, while men got 0.6 fewer questions correctly in both categories. Still, it matters, especially considering temperatures generally vary by more than a single degree.
“When we start at low temperatures, the gender gap is huge in the math task,” she says. “As the temperature increases, women become better and better and better, and at some point there’s no gender gap.”
We’re taking this as permission to petition to change office policy. Or at the very least, start stashing snuggies in our desk drawer.
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