I can’t tell you how many times I have been approached during the summer months about how hot the office is getting. Sometimes it’s difficult to keep a straight face when a co-worker is telling me this while they are wearing a sweatshirt and it’s 90 degrees outside. But I have to keep my cool, sort of speak, and approach the issue in a straightforward and educational fashion. You really can’t come out and tell people you work with how they should dress because it’s somewhat inappropriate and you never know what issues lie behind their wardrobe selection (financial, emotion, etc.). I think office workers everywhere, during the seasons of extreme temperature changes, should wear layers in order to combat the changes in indoor temperatures. On Monday morning if the building doesn’t run the air conditioning during the weekend, it might take a few hours for the office space to cool down. Then when it cools down, some might be comfortable, some might be too cold. That’s why wearing layers is subtle, and somewhat safe advice to give employees. You will never make everyone happy, you just need to find a formula that works in your situation so people will stop constantly complaining about it.
If there truly is something wrong with the cooling system, make sure to call in a repair technician. It is also a good idea to work with facilities or property owners to have yearly maintenance performed on both the cooling and heating systems. I find that most wait until its too late and major repairs need to be done… a belt broke on a 95 degree day, the a/c unit starts leaking and its coming down through the ceiling, a heating unit catches on fire and the building needs to be evacuate. I imagine most if not all of these scenarios could be avoided with regular inspections and maintenance.
Another tip along the lines of maintenance is making sure all of ducts are free of debris, vents are open (some people close them during the winter and forget to open them in summer month, then can’t figure out why they are so hot), and that you know which offices are connected to what temperature gauges. This will help you pin point problems when they arise.
The most important tip I can share with you is make sure that everyone keeps their windows closed and blinds drawn if the weather is 82 degrees or higher. The extra heat coming in through the windows not only heat up rooms, but makes the cooling system work overtime in order to keep the rest of the areas at a comfortable temperature. I do get complaints about this request, but I just ask, “would you rather have your normal view out the window today, or work in an office with a comfortable temperature?” Please note, you will have to patrol people because they will forget and the next day, you will find their window wide open while Sandy in accounting is complaining on the other side of the floor because they are not getting enough cool air. Remember to keep your cool and stay on window and blind patrol!