Winter and Cognitive Performance

It’s come to that time of year where the northern hemisphere starts to freeze over. That’s right, winter is upon us and our friends in the United Kingdom and the United States are well aware of what that means. It’s time to bring out the extra layers of clothing, time to start turning on the heating full blast, and time to suffer that cold winter commute to work (unless your agile workplace utilises a flexible working regime that allows you to work in the comfort of your own home). Today I wanted to touch on some subjects I highlighted in an earlier post about how the summer heat can affect the office. As it’s the 1st of December 2017, its only right that we explore how winter conditions will impact the workplace.

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Temperature & Cognitive Performance

Let’s start by exploring what winter and it’s cold temperatures will mean for concentration and cognitive ability. Our academic research that was undertaken in partnership with The Centre for Evidence Based Management (CEBMa), a professional institute that explored  hundreds of verified and peer reviewed research papers on cognitive performance research. Their research discovered a few things.

  1. Research shows a significant negative effect on our cognition in higher temperatures. Heat actually puts the body under a degree of stress and therefore resources used for cognitive tasks (tasks that require mental effort and processes) are otherwise occupied.
  2. Medium to cold temperatures tend to result in moderately faster employee responses when compared to warmer conditions. Therefore, maintaining an average temperature between 68-77 F or 20-25 C is most beneficial in terms of productivity.
  3. Every individual has a certain temperature that reacts harmoniously with our body type and metabolism – this is referred to as our “thermal comfort”. The right conditions will enable higher concentration and mental performance.

What it means for the Workplace

In the workplace experience of Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA), we know that it isn’t easy to get the temperature to everyone’s liking. As a workplace consultant, I urge workplace management leaders to consider setting you heating system to an average temperature. More so, enable your employees to find their own location that suits their ‘thermal comfort’. With the installation of an agile workplace, it will enable your employees to move around the office to a place with the right conditions for them – whether it’s by the open window or next to the heater, your employee has more control over their workplace experience.

Now let’s discuss workplace strategy – did you know the ideal temperature for the workplace is between 68-77 Fahrenheit (20-25 Celsius). Anything higher than 90 F (33 Celsius) will see a drop to 85% level of productivity – the productivity level will also start to drop around 65 F (19 Celsius). As you can see, temperature has an effect on the way in which your organisations people function. Furthermore, it would be a wise workplace strategy to take control of your employees workplace experience and get the temperature right for your workers.


To wrap it up, AWA recommends these three things:

  1. Try agile working – give your employees the power and ability to sit where they like so that they can find a space that is right for them.
  2. Invest in heating – keep warm with a strong and properly functioning heating system that will get your organisation to the 68-77 F (20-25C) range to support productivity levels and mental performance.
  3. Enable your employees to work from home some of the time. This way, they will be able to work in peace with total control over their working temperature.


Winter 2017 is here, and we urge you to not let it get the best of you. Look after your employee’s cognitive performance and your organisation’s workplace productivity. For more information on workplace strategy, contact a workplace management consultant on +44 207 743 7110 or email

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