What To Do When Your Office Is Too Cold

What To Do When Your Office Is Too Cold

The Empire Strikes Back

Remember during the summer, when your office building cranked the aircon to stupid low temperatures and you had to put on a beanie? Remember thinking “at least in the winter they will crank the heat”? We remember thinking that at Lifehacker. What a fun surprise to learn that our office is also frigid in the winter! Now we know what “Oh you sweet summer child” means!

If you also work in a drafty, cavernous office, or if you have a stingy boss or landlord, here’s some advice, based on the Lifehacker staff’s personal experience.

Talk to Your Boss

Most of the time, your office could be warmer, but someone in charge has decided not to crank the heat. If that someone is part of your company, then you need to gather everyone in your office who feels the same. Present one united front, instead of a bunch of one-on-one complaints, to make your issue harder to dismiss. Revel in collective action’s potential to improve workplace conditions.

Show your boss this Cornell study that says raising the temperature into the 70s reduces employee error by 44%, and increases output by 150%. This just one specific study about typing speed, but it sounds like science, so it’s hard to argue with. Bosses eat that shit up.

Maybe your office manager is responsible for this stinginess; in this case discreetly take up the issue with your boss. More likely, as is the case in at least one Manhattan-based new media company, your office manager is an angel of light, and does everything they can to make your office comfortable. In that case, ask them how you can back them up to your boss or whoever’s in charge of the temperature control.

Trick the Thermostat

Maybe the thermostat is out of your hands. Maybe it’s literally, physically locked in a cage! Plop a Ziploc bag of ice on the thermostat so it stays on, bravely trying to crank the heat to a balmy 67. Don’t get caught.

Bundle Up

I mean, you know how to get warm. Hat, sweater, blanket on your lap. Instead of thicker layers, go for more layers. Fingerless gloves keep your hands limber; get a thin pair, because thick ones make your hands too clumsy, defeating the purpose.

Get a compact space heater, one you can hide under your desk. The Wirecutter recommends a $42 heater from Lasko. Just make sure its not too hot or too big.

If your office is actually quite warm thank you, please tell us all about it so we can forward the thread to our bosses. In the mean time I’m going to Kmart for a nice cheap blanket.


  • Small under desk heaters are not very energy efficient. So to save the plant DO NO use them. The simple answer is “dress appropriately”. Put on a jumper over your long sleeve shirt, wear long pants, stockings etc.

    And for goodness sake don’t crank the air conditioner up to 28. Heat to 22 or 23 max. And did I say, dress appropriately?

  • I worked once in a modern office where I felt cold, which I am not particularly susceptible too. I asked the guy next to me if he felt cold and he was. I grabbed a weather station, well it was the BOM, and did a quick check and it was 23C at my desk. Perplexed I asked others further from my desk, all felt cold despite the 23C room temperature.
    The problem was the floor below was vacant and unheated, although there was carpet on the floor was cold, really cold, and no doubt convective currents adding a nice breeze. Sitting near a particularly cold wall or window can also be a problem.

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