A Comfortable Office Environment for All

Aside from complaints about coworkers, one of the biggest complaints you hear as an HR manager are about the workplace itself. Sometimes it is about parking or accessibility, but more often than not it’s people with concerns about the temperature in the office. You can only tell someone so many times to bring in a sweater or that tank tops do not comply with office dress code so many times before you want to start adjusting the thermostat yourself.

There are other, better, strategies. If this is a problem for you, find out if your office has a heating and cooling policy. If they don’t, they may still have unwritten policies, so inquire with HR before you bring in anything of your own other than some warmer clothes. Especially if you are new, you might not feel you have the right to complain. However, if you are uncomfortable in your office, it is in your best interest to speak up. Here are a few tips on what you can do:

For those of you who get cold easily, bringing a sweater or something warm that you can slip on and off is a good idea. I had a fleece pullover that I simply left on my chair from the tail end of spring through fall when I worked in offices with robust air conditioning systems. Some companies will allow employees to bring in a small, energy-efficient space heater to keep at their desks. Check to see if your company is one of them. If so, make sure that the unit is UL listed and has an auto-shutoff if the unit tips over or gets too hot. Also, be sure to turn it off before you leave work or set it on a timer if there is a possibility you’ll forget. Space heaters are safer than ever and a good choice for those who get super cold but perhaps have to wear a uniform or have other clothing restrictions. It is also a good choice for those who have poor circulation in their hands or feet.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you get hot easily, some places will allow small desk fans. Be absolutely sure that you can have one before you plug it in at your desk. They can be noisy and, well, windy. The last thing anyone around you wants is to feel like they’re working in a tornado. The same for all the files and papers that are sitting on your desk. There are small personal fans available, and many of them make little to almost no noise. Even if the company allows them, you may want to run it by your cubicle mates or the people in your immediate vicinity. If you have your own office, make sure that it is positioned away from the door so that you aren’t accidentally repelling people from entering your doorway.

In either situation, if your desk is located near a troublesome vent, you can ask to have the vent closed or inquire if there is a possibility that your desk can be relocated. It might not always be feasible to do, but it can never hurt to politely ask.

Hopefully, these suggestions will make your office a more comfortable and productive workspace.

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