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A Productive Climate - Office Working Temperature FAQ

With the change in UK temperatures in recent weeks, we've had the usual battle between heating and air conditioning here at Kit Out My Office HQ, which always brings up the question of what is the correct temperature for an office? 

So we've decided to put together a list of useful frequently asked questions regarding temperatures in the workplace and what really makes for a productive climate?

Is there a maximum working temperature?

Yes and No. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 state that ‘The temperature in workrooms should provide reasonable comfort without the need for special clothing’. However, there is no maximum temperature limit specified in the regulations, and these are only guidelines. 

What is the correct temperature for an office?

A review of smaller studies has shown that for general office work, the ideal temperature is 22°C. Temperature impacts on worker efficiency and productivity in different ways – the evidence suggests that warmer environments are better for creative thinking, whilst cooler offices are better at keeping people alert during monotonous or repetitive tasks. 

How cold does it have to be in the office before you can go home?

The minimum temperature (set out by the Workplace – Health, Safety and Welfare regulations 1992) of the office is 16°C. However, these are guidelines and not legal requirements. There is no law for minimum or maximum working temperatures – employees should talk to their employer if the temperature isn’t comfortable. 

Is there a minimum working temperature?

There is no law for minimum working temperatures in the UK. However, government guidance (as set out by the Workplace – Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations 1992) does state that the temperature in all workplaces must be reasonable. Guidelines suggest a minimum temperature of 16°C (13°C if employees are doing physical work). 

What is the minimum temperature to work in a school?

The Education School Premises Regulations 1999 require schools to maintain the following minimum temperatures: Areas of normal physical activity (e.g. classrooms), 18°C, areas of lower physical activity (e.g. sick rooms), 21°C, and areas of higher than normal activity (e.g. gymnasia) - 15°C. There are no maximum temperatures prescribed in the regulations. 

How hot can an office be legally UK?

There is no law for maximum working temperatures. UK government guidelines state that “the temperature in all indoor workplaces must be reasonable.” The TUC has called for an action level at 24°C (the point where employers must take action to reduce temperatures) and a maximum upper limit of 30°C (or 27°C for those engaged in physical work).

How cold can a workplace be?

There is no minimum temperature set out in law – but during working hours, temperatures must be reasonable. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 sets out clear guideline minimum temperatures of 16°C for offices and 13°C for workplaces where employees are doing physical work.

What is the legal temperature to work in a kitchen?

There are no laws governing the specific minimum or maximum temperatures to work in a kitchen. Regulation 7 of The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 states that: During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable’. However, there are no set guidelines as to what the maximum temperature is in the kitchen environment. 

What temperature should an office be UK?

Recent studies have suggested that 22°C is the best compromise. Gender, age, weight and body composition all impact on preferred temperature. Evidence suggests that men tend to prefer temperatures lower (between 19° - 22°C), whereas women prefer higher temperatures (22-24°C). The World Health Organisation recommends a maximum of 24°C for comfortable indoor working. 

What is the optimal temperature for an office?

A recent study found that 22°C is the optimal temperature for an office. However, every individual is different, with gender, weight, age and body composition all affecting a person’s thermal comfort levels. The vast majority of people’s thermal comfort levels will fall somewhere between 19°C - 24°C. 

What is the temperature in a classroom?

Legally, classrooms should be at least 18°C (as set out by The Education School Premises Regulations 1999). There is no maximum limit for classroom temperature in UK law. However, the World Health Organisation recommends 24°C as the maximum for comfortable indoor working.

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