What is the ideal temperature for an office?

Not too hot and not too cold. How on earth do you get the temperature ‘just right’ in a shared office?

There’s no such thing as one temperature for all.
22 degrees used to be the magic office temperature but now some experts say a slightly higher temperature might improve results.
Having some manual control over office conditions like being able to open a window or put on a fan, makes for happier employees.

Tradies are expected to slave away outdoors until the temperature reaches the mid-30s.

It’s a very different story for office workers who sit in meetings and tap keyboards in year-round heating and air conditioning – and still complain they’re baking hot or freezing cold.

“In Australia, it’s standard practice for offices to be heated or cooled to a consistent 21 to 24 degrees – with 22 degrees the most common magic number – to maximise cognitive performance,” explains Associate Professor Christhina Candido, who leads the University of Melbourne’s Sustainable and Healthy Environments Lab.

She says these temperature requirements are often written into commercial lease agreements, yet “we still find 20 per cent disaffection with thermal comfort in workplaces all over Australia”.

Can’t please ‘em all, obviously.

So, what is the optimum indoor temperature?

It’s an age-old question and Assoc Prof Candido says there isn’t a clear answer.

“There is no such thing as one temperature that will make us all comfortable.”

A growing body of research shows that boosting office temperatures to 25 degrees or possibly higher could save energy and keep worker bees comfortable without affecting performance and productivity.


Even better, Assoc Prof Candido says workers who can adjust their surroundings are often more comfortable than those who rely on heating or air-conditioning alone.

“If you can switch on a fan, open a window or adjust your clothing – a combination of these strategies is actually much better in achieving thermal comfort indoors than just relying on temperature control,” says Associate Professor Christhina Candido.


Somewhat amusingly, office workers with this extra degree of control often complain less even if the temperature stays largely the same.

“In fully air-conditioned buildings, people are far less tolerant to temperature fluctuation, and expectations become higher in terms of being able to control the temperature,” Assoc Prof Candido says.

“If we can adjust our surroundings in an indoor environment to suit our preferences, we’re also more likely not only to be satisfied from a thermal comfort perspective, but also to embrace temperature fluctuations – and perhaps push temperatures a little bit higher.”

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