Study Finds That Cold Offices Negatively Impact Women's Performance

It’s not just a matter of comfort—a study found that cold offices actually hurt women’s productivity.

The study, published in the journal PLOS One analyzed men’s and women’s cognitive performance based on differences in temperature. In the study, more than 500 college students took tests for an hour in rooms with temperatures between 61 and 90 degrees. They then performed simple math, verbal, and cognitive tasks with the promise of monetary incentives. The women’s scores on math tests increased by 27% when temperatures increased for below 70 to above 80 degrees.

“It’s been documented that women like warmer indoor temperatures than man, but the idea until now has been that it’s a matter of personal preference,” the study’s co-author Tom Chang said in a statement from USC. “What we found is it’s not just whether you feel comfortable or not, but that your performance on things that matter—in math and verbal dimensions, and how hard you try—is affected by temperature.”

The findings suggest that setting the thermostat higher in mixed-gender workplaces could enhance women’s performance. The news should come as affirmation to any women storing a blanket in her desk drawer to keep warm against the frigid office air.