Office Survival Tip: Dealing with the Thermostat

3 Jan

Office Survival Tip: Dealing with the Thermostat

That title may be a tad deceiving. When reading it, you should regard the word “Dealing” as more like “enduring the almost unbearable conditions brought on by the thermostat regulator” than “dealing with the responsibility of handling the office thermostat”. Unless you ARE the person who regulates the thermostat, then lucky you! I doubt it though. I always imagined the thermostat being overseen by some BigWig at the very top of the building, where all the heat rises so he always feels the need to make it colder. The VP of Climate Control probably.

Anyways, office seasons aren’t like outdoorsy seasons, in that instead of natural cycles of progressing warmth and cold as we move from winter to summer and back again, office temperatures remain at a steady, uncomfortable state marked by brief, biannual periods of intense discomfort when changing of the seasons require a switch between A/C and heat.

Therefore to survive in this strange, homeostatic environment we must first take note of the specifics of its temperature. It’s important to not be deceived into believing the outside weather bears any real influence on the indoor climate. Just because you have to start wearing sweaters outside in November doesn’t mean they’re any help whatsoever inside in November. Therefore, surviving the office thermostat really just involves coming to terms with whatever temperature zone the VP of Climate Control has designated shall reign for eternity, and then preparing for it daily.

This can be done in many ways. If your office is too cold, stash an outer layer at your desk . Feel free to swap it out an any time though. This will ensure that your clothing gets washed and you don’t become “that guy who always wears the Outdoor World jacket”.

If your office is too hot…I don’t know, I’ve never encountered this one. Maybe drink lots of iced tea. Emphasis on the iced. Or get one of those cheap-o spritzy fans. You know, the ones they sell at Disney World on excruciatingly hot days for $20 because you’re desperate and it has a picture of Tinkerbelle on it.

Also, layers can be helpful in both instances, either for putting on or removing. Try not to go too far in either case though.

22 Responses to “Office Survival Tip: Dealing with the Thermostat”

  1. Cara Marie January 3, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    We were just discussing this morning the temp in our office…always what feels to be 45 degrees. I’m pretty certain it’s not but my purple fingers may testify otherwise. Our department wears fingerless gloves to prevent frostbite. But the tips of my fingers are still like ice cubes.

    • sharkables January 4, 2012 at 6:25 am #

      When reading your comment, my subconscious mind swung from “Poor thing, how cold and miserable” to “Wow, fingerless gloves?! What a great way to keep those typing hands both warm and bad ass!”

  2. Rob Rubin January 3, 2012 at 9:34 am #

    Yep, I keep a scarf and earmuffs in my drawer specifically for those frozen summer months.

    • sharkables January 4, 2012 at 6:27 am #

      Haha it’s not really winter apparel, it’s office apparel isn’t it?

  3. Lifes Highway (@lifeshighway) January 3, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    I keep an office sweater. Also I have caught thermostat marauders who keep pushing the temperature levels closer and closer to the freeze zone. Thermostat marauders are often men.

    We don’t have a climate change in our office. We stay in a constant state of frigid conditions thus making hot liquids a very hurried luxury.

    • sharkables January 4, 2012 at 6:32 am #

      I assume you sneak in after the marauder leaves to re-set the temperature?

      Our thermostats are covered and locked in little clear plastic boxes so you can peer in and see the temperature, but not do anything about it. Sometimes I get the feeling our company is a little bit totalitarian though…

  4. Tin Roof Press January 3, 2012 at 10:33 am #

    People who put the AC on post september need to have their intestines slowly drawn out with a sickle then fed to them. This post fills me with so much rage. We have no heating in the office. Your illustration is highly realistic.

    • sharkables January 4, 2012 at 6:34 am #

      Haha if in some bizarre twist of internet fate we happen to end up working in the same office, remind me to never approach the thermostat. I don’t think I could deal with the eviscerating consequences.

      • Tin Roof Press January 4, 2012 at 6:56 am #

        Someone came to fix the heating! Thank god.
        All the offices on our floor had no heating but we were the only ones that reported I have less rage now

  5. Cap'n Stephel January 3, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

    I never fully appreciated the summer heat until my first summer stuck in an office where the temperature hovered below 70. I’d go outside just to warm up!
    Winter brings the fleece and extra layers. Why must these temperatures be so uncomfortable? We can’t work well if we are too hot or cold…

    Or maybe that’s our pass to not work hard? Haha!

    • sharkables January 4, 2012 at 6:35 am #

      Good excuse! “My fingers were too stiff from the sub-zero climate to type, so I had to hang around outside for a couple hours.”

      • Alison November 17, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

        I just stumbled on to this site while recerashing healthy house temps. This is our first winter in our new house and an energy audit found we have NO insulation. We can’t afford to insulate until next year so we are toughing it out. We have a brand new 96% efficiency boiler and brand new baseboards but it kills me to have all that nice heat leaking outside. We are currently set for 59 during the day and 57 at night…my poor birds need thermal underwear LOL…I’d like to go even lower but people think we’re trying to kill the kids! The funny thing is that once you get used to this 64 feels too warm..I had to heat to 68 for holiday guests and I was dying.s

  6. Sandra Parsons January 3, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

    It’s never fair. The VP of Climate Control probably gets to warm up playing indoor golf while all the little worker bees have to slave mainly motionlessly over their keyboards. I think when you can actually see your breath, that’s when you are allowed to officially file a complaint!

    • sharkables January 4, 2012 at 6:37 am #

      I agree! He’s probably too busy up there sipping little umbrella drinks and basking in front of his giant windows to notice the cubicle peons slowly freezing to death. Well, that may have been a slight exaggeration, but still!

      • Hilal November 17, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

        Anyone interested in being iierevntwed about this challenge and you live in the DC/Baltimore/Philly area? Let me know!———-“I’m a producer for France 2 TV’s United States bureau in Washington, DC and I enjoyed reading about the Freeze Yer Buns challenge that you created in the New York Times. We’re planning on doing a TV story on environmentally-conscious like you who lower their thermostat to the max. in the Winter, but unfortunately, we won’t be able to go to Washington state in the near future. I was wondering if you have friends or “fellow-crunchies” in or around Washington, DC or Baltimore, Philly even whom you could recommend for an interview? Ideally, we’re looking for participants to your challenge!”

  7. Viciously Sweet January 4, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

    OMG. We used to be able to touch the thermostat and control it. Then our landlord who never works in the building decided it would be better if he controlled it. Every 3 hours it changes back to 65 degrees, also now all air and heat shut off at 5pm… it makes working nights awesome.

    • Ashish November 17, 2012 at 6:34 am #

      We live in Michigan, keep the thermostat at 57. Friends refer to our house as the meat loeckr. We love it and are used to it after dialing down for the last few years. I have a couple pairs of thin polarfleece gloves I cut the tips off. I use these if my hands get cold, work great for computer work. Electric blanket on the bed, turn on for 5-10 minutes just to warm it, do not leave on. Lots of blankets and wool. Shearling slippers with socks are the best. We do turn up the thermostat slightly to the low 60’s if friends come over. Most know to bundle up if coming to our house! We feel better in a cooler house. growing up My mom never turned the thermostat past 65, and down to 60 at night. We are now so accustomed to this temp it is hard to go to a house that is 70 degrees. And it just seems SO wasteful when we are there, hard not to speak up and ask WHY so hot in here? Fortunately my office is fairly cool. Most of my co-workers have small heaters under their desk though. 57 seems to be the magic number for us! I think it is better for your health, saves money, and is not wasteful.

  8. ilovemycommute January 5, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    There is a constant hum of indivdual space heaters running at desks throughout my office in every season. For the life of me, I can’t fathom how that’s more cost-effectve than just adjusting the thermostat! Over the years I’ve learned to dress more for the office temperature than the outside world – which has occasionally resulted in my dodging odd looks from strangers as I walk to a lunch meeting on a 90 degree summer day wearing a turtleneck and wool pants.

    • Tin Roof Press January 5, 2012 at 10:22 am #

      Thats actually insane. Why doesn’t anyone complain?

  9. theghostlife January 5, 2012 at 11:54 am #

    Heaven help you if the Thermostat happens to belong to a menopausal female. Closing nearby vents and stashing a plug in fan with heater element under your desk can help some for those suffering in the ice box cubicle…be prepared for vent war though.

    • corozmum January 14, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

      Being a temping menopausal woman I didn’t feel I could complain about how hot our office was in winter. I wore sleeveless tops, fanned myself, drank lots of cold water and still ran outside periodically to cool off! Luckily we were on the ground floor and not far from an external door.
      I’ve now changed offices and I’m wearing cardigans in the middle of summer because I’m too cold!! ….You can’t win!!

  10. Margie Farago July 25, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    Don’t be a victim to the thermostat controllers! Get Rā-Key, the Radiant Keyboard, Mouse and Desktop Heater to warm both hands while using the keyboard and mouse. This radiant heater supplies just enough warmth to keep you comfortable, but won’t mess up the a/c. Using only 400 watts of electricity with plenty of safety features. I have one and can’t live without it. Find out more at

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