Managing 24/7

What’s the recommended temperature for a 24-hour work environment?

While some 24-hour operations have little control over the temperature, for many other operations the battle over the thermostat can become a heated one (no pun intended).

Some people like it hot – stating that they feel more comfortable in a warm environment and that it helps combat natural temperature drop our bodies experience in the overnight hours. While other people like it cool – arguing they feel more alert in cold conditions. So who’s right?

From an alertness and productivity standpoint, scientific research tells us that you probably want to keep it relatively cool — between 66 and 68 degrees. If it’s much warmer, shiftworkers are likely to become sleepy, and they’re prone to nodding off altogether during the overnight hours — as well as in the afternoon — if they’re sitting down.  

You’re better off keeping it cool and encouraging employees to wear layers they can add or remove as their body temperature fluctuates. Of course, you don’t want to make it so cold that you cause resentment among employees.  

A related issue to consider is air flow. Poor ventilation can make it difficult to maintain alertness — in addition to making the workplace unpleasant and increasing the chances that workers will transmit germs to one another.  

Controlling the temperature and ventilation is relatively easy in some facilities, but manufacturing operations often cannot address these two issues without making major changes to their existing air conditioning systems. Although this may involve significant costs, in the long run it’s a worthwhile investment that can boost employee productivity and morale.


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