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How to Survive a Freezing Cold Office in the Summer

Staring wistfully out of your office window, you see a beautiful, sunny summer day. You can see heat radiating off the asphalt parking lot, and you silently wish you had a blanket.  It may be all buzzing cicadas and ice cream trucks outside, but inside your office it feels like early winter.  You shiver as you return to work, silently contemplating excuses to step outside so you can warm up.
This shouldn't be your summer wardrobe.

This shouldn’t be your summer wardrobe.

Overly air-conditioned offices are a common complaint amongst employees who have trouble concentrating in the frigid air and are tired of needing to prepare for two different climates every morning when they get dressed. While keeping the office at 60 degrees on a 90 degree summer day looks like a misguided attempt to average out your day at a balmy 75 degrees, the real reason for your cold office is more cultural than anything.  

The “ideal office temperature” is often based on the comfort of men, particularly men in suits.  Women, who make up about half the workforce, tend to get colder than men due to slower metabolism.  Even the men are feeling the chill, though, as the typical office wardrobe becomes more casual.  Luckily, we’ve compiled a few tips to help you survive the daily cold snap during the dog days of summer.

Confront the Problem at Its Source

The best solution to the problem of a cold office is just to turn up the temperature.  Unfortunately, this is not always as easily done as it sounds.  Not every office gets to control its own temperature; some buildings have a pre-programmed thermostat that is set for the time of year rather than the temperature outside. Even if your floor or section of the building has a thermostat, arguments over the temperature can cause a lot of office strife.

Regardless of the thermostat situation in your office, you’ll need to appeal to the person in charge of the air conditioning (your landlord, if you rent the office and don’t have control of the thermostat, or your office manager, if you’re an employee).  There are plenty of studies on the cost and energy savings of raising the temperature a few degrees, which you can use to add weight to your argument.  You can also make the argument that warmer temperatures allow employees to focus and be more productive.  The important thing is to appeal to practical reasons, rather than complaining that you don’t like the cold.

You can also invest in a small space heater for your desk, if you don’t want to start office drama over the thermostat.  Just make sure to check with the office first, as many companies don’t want to take on the risk that comes with space heaters (in the immortal words of Frankenstein’s monster, “Fire bad!”).

Embrace Layers

Fingerless Gloves

If for some reason it is impossible to simply turn the temperature up, you’ll need to find ways to cope with the cold.  The first thing to try is to layer your outfit so that you can adjust to both extreme temperatures.  Keep a warm, professional-looking blazer at the office so that you don’t have to worry about it in the summer sun.  Wear long pants, but of a more breathable fabric than your typical winter pants.  For the ladies, a summer scarf or shawl can add an extra layer of protection from the chill.

Get Up and Move

Getting your blood pumping is a surefire way to warm up at work.  Take more frequent walks to the water cooler, or use your break to walk around outside for a bit.  If you have a cubicle that offers some privacy, you can do some cardio exercises at your desk when you get chilly (just don’t do enough to work up a sweat, or you’ll end up chillier).  If you’re in an open office, you might not want to distract your other chilly coworkers with jumping jacks.  Instead, consider investing in an exercise ball to use in place of a chair.  This simple change will keep your muscles engaged and warm without too many weird looks.

Decorate With Warm Colors and Light

Warm Lights

Warm colors like red, yellow, and orange can trick your brain into feeling warmer while you’re looking at them.  Decorate your cubicle with cloth or accessories in these colors to give it a summer vibe and fight the chill of the air conditioner.  Adding more light to your cubicle will also warm it up.  It will trick the mind in the same way that the warm colors do, and the heat coming from the bulbs will add real warmth to your space.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

Even if you aren’t allowed to have a space heater in your office, you can use technology to warm up your cubicle.  There are plenty of USB-powered desk accessories that you can use to fight the air-conditioning.  USB-powered fingerless gloves can keep your fingers free for typing and your hands nice and cozy.  Heated headphones and blankets can warm your upper half.  Heated desk accessories like mouse pads and keyboard rests can give your whole office a comforting warmth.  You can even warm your seat with a microwavable seat cushion.

We hope these tips help you to beat the winter chill in your summer cubicle.  Have you ever had to fight the cold of an overly air-conditioned office?  Share your own tips and ideas with us in the comments.  We’d also love to hear from you on our Facebook page!

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