Too Hot? Too Cold? 16 Hacks for Dealing With Unruly Office Temperatures

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Carly Williams
Carly Williams



My relationship with office temperatures can best be described through the following Katy Perry lyrics: "You're hot, then you're cold. You're yes, then you're no. You're in, then you're out. You're up, then you're down ..." 

Is the sentiment familiar? More often than not, getting your office to a "perfect" temperature -- one that everyone can agree upon -- can feel like an uphill battle. When Jane is cold, Steve is hot, and then there's Karen feeling perfectly content. 

The trouble with the disconnect here? Office temperatures can actually have a significant impact on people's productivity and ability to perform. In fact, a study from Cornell University researchers revealed that employees committed 44% more errors when office temperatures were low than when they were warm. 

While it might seem impossible to please everyone, there are steps you can take to create a more comfortable working environment for yourself no matter what you're feeling -- freezing, sweating, or somewhere in between. Here are some tip on staying comfortable in unpredictable office climates.

16 Tips for Staying Comfortable in Crazy Office Temperatures

"I'm shivering."

1) Layer up.

Source: Imgur

If you're dealing with frigid office temps, less is never more in terms of clothing. One of the easiest ways to combat the cold is to layer up so that you have the flexibility to add or subtract clothing to keep comfortable.

However, be mindful that layering is an art. Before you go throwing things on without a plan, focus on articles of clothing made from wool, fleece, or down feathers. These materials serve as the best insulators, as they don't saturate as quickly as cotton and help to wick moisture away from your body.

2) Open up curtains or blinds.

Source: IFC (via

Let light in. During the day, opening up the curtains or blinds near your desk to allow natural sunlight in will help to heat up your space. However, you'll want to be sure to close them up at night in an effort to retain that heat and avoid a draft. 

Don't sit near a window? Find a spot in your office that does and enjoy the change of scenery. I personally find that working away from my desk every so often actually helps me stay focused. 

3) Wear big headphones.

Source: Giphy

Wearing headphones at work is a great way to signal to your colleagues that you're "in the zone" -- but that's not their only benefit.

Your ears are made entirely of cartilage and are primarily completely exposed, making them more susceptible to the cold. Think about it: You wear hats, earmuffs, and headbands in the winter for a reason right?

Well, in the office, large headphones serve the same purpose by keeping them covered up and away from the chilly air. (And if you're looking for something to listen to while you're keeping your ears toasty, check out this round up of productivity playlists.)

4) Sip on a warm beverage.

Source: Giphy

Your morning coffee just got a whole lot more valuable. Holding onto a hot beverage will help to keep your hands warm so you can type away all day. As an added bonus, an experiment conducted at the University of Colorado Boulder found that participants who held a cup of hot coffee (versus iced coffee) judged a target participant as having a "warmer" personality. In other words, holding a hot drink could make you friendlier.

Not big on caffeine? 

"When I'm cold, I drink hot water instead of drinking more coffee or tea. It keeps me warm and hydrated without over-caffeinating. Sometimes I put a dash of lemon juice in it for flavor," advises my colleague, Corey Wainwright

Just keep in mind that overly hot beverages could trigger your body's cooling system and cause you to sweat and feel chilly. Stick to something nice and warm.

That being said ...

5) Avoid alcohol.

Source: CelebBuzz

We've all probably heard the solution "Let's just drink to stay warm!" tossed around once or twice. And while kegerators and wine coolers are becoming more prevalent in modern offices, it turns out that this may not be the best option.

While a drink or two might make you feel a little "warm" inside, alcohol consumption actually decreases core body temperature and increases the risk of hypothermia. According to a 2005 study, after a single drink, the body tries to counteract the warming sensation we feel due to increased blood flow to the skin by causing us to sweat, which then decrease the body temperature even more.

I can think of a few more reasons, but let's leave it at that.

6) Wear fingerless gloves.

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While holding a warm drink can help to keep your hands from freezing, you eventually have to put it down and get some work done, right?

Enter fingerless gloves. These gems allow you to keep your hands warm while keeping your fingers free for typing, texting, swiping, and tapping.

These days, there are so many different styles to choose from, it's easy to find a pair that fits you -- and your office environment -- just right. You can even purchase heated fingerless gloves (like these) with a pocket that holds a hand warmer to kick things up a notch. 

7) Stuff your pockets with hand warmers.

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If you've ever been to an outdoor tailgate in the fall or winter or had the privilege of shoveling your driveway after a big storm, I can guarantee that you're no stranger to the power of hand warmers.

These magical inventions are often made of natural materials such as iron powder, salt, and charcoal, which are activated by air to produce heat. While everyday use in the office has the potential to get expensive, you can make DIY hand warmers with the help of this Lifehacker article.

8) Use a heated blanket.

Source: Reddit

Do your office rules prevent you from using a space heater? Try a heated blanket instead. These bad boys can be plugged in right under your desk and placed on your lap to keep you warm without looking unprofessional. 

You can even find USB-powered blankets (like this one) that plug right into your computer so you're not restricted by outlet access.

"I'm melting."

1) Get a personal fan.

Source: Tumblr

According to an article from The Wall Street Journal: "Air molecules colliding with your skin quickly make the air right next to your skin get to body temperature and 100% humidity. If it stayed there, the air wouldn't let you cool down. So you have to replace it with cooler, drier air."

How do you replace humid air with cooler, drier air? Using a fan.

If you don't have room for a large fan at your desk, you can opt for a small, smartphone-powered fan (like this one) to create a comfortable breeze.

2) Turn off unused electronics and heat sources.

Source: Twitpic

It's likely that at any given moment, you probably have a handful of electronics plugged in at your office that you're not using. To reduce the unnecessary amount of heat created by these unused machines and lights, make an effort to unplug as you see fit. 

Not only will this help to create a cooler environment, but it will also help you save money on electricity. Sounds like a win-win to me. 

3) Stay hydrated.

Source: GiantGag

Our bodies are made up of more than half water. Not to mention we use water for "pretty much every bodily function -- from regulating body temperature to removing waste to lubricating joints to carrying oxygen to the cells,” explains Rachel Berman, a registered dietitian and director of Health.

In an effort to stay cool, be sure to drink a lot of water throughout the day. If you're feeling sick of plain old water, turn to foods that can help with hydration like watermelon, celery, and lettuce.

4) Wear breathable fabric.

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If you're wearing wool to work, it's no wonder you're sweating. To keep cool, you need to be smart about the fabric you choose. Here are a handful of breathable materials to look out for:

  • Linen
  • Cotton
  • Seersucker
  • Chambray
  • Rayon
  • Silk

5) Put your hair up.

Source: Imgur

We all know what it's like to be hot and have hair sticking to the back of your neck. Not a good look. 

If you're feeling a little warm, consider adjusting your hairstyle to cool off. If you're worried that your average ponytail will look a little too casual for your office, check out this roundup of stylish, alternative updos from Brit & Co.

6) Run your wrists under cold water.

Source: GifBin

Your wrist and neck both contain pulse points, which are places where your blood vessels are close to the surface of your skin. Those pulse points are great access points for quick temperature change.

For a quick way to fight the heat, run your wrists under some cold water in the bathroom. You might also wet some paper towels with cold water and rest them on your wrists. This will allow you to cool off your blood, and in turn, cool down your body temperature. 

7) Use a cooling spray.

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Most sprays contain ingredients like peppermint oil that are designed to keep you feeling cool. Why? According to neurobiologist David Mckemy, "Menthol actually tricks our brains and mouths into the cool sensation because menthol activates the same receptor on nerve endings that's involved in sensing cold."

Keep a bottle of cooling spray in your desk and give yourself a spritz whenever you're feeling a little overheated. Alternatively, you could try chewing on some peppermint gum to achieve a similar sensation.

8) Snack on frozen fruit.

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What better way to cool down than with an ice-cold snack? Frozen fruit serves as a healthy way for to chill out -- without the guilt. If you're looking for some delicious ways to work frozen fruit into your diet, check out these options:

How do you beat the heat and fight the cold in your office? Let us know your favorite tips in the comments section below.

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