Did you know that women and men sense temperature differently?
My friend Erik once told his female colleagues who were complaining about temperature in office that there are two ways to solve the issue. Either he takes off his clothes or they dress warmer. Women ended up giving in so that he could keep his clothes on.
Recent studies reveal that most office environments are tailored to men's thermal comfort, leaving women to cope with the chilling effects of air conditioning and heating systems. According to a 2015 study by Dutch scientists most office buildings use a thermal comfort formula developed in the 1960s that uses the average resting metabolic rate of a 40 year old man weighing about 70 kgs. While office temperature is commonly set between 21-22C, research shows that women are comfortable at a temperature between 24-25C.
Why is this? Women tend to have less muscle tissue compared to men. Muscle tissue affects the metabolic rate. Lower metabolic rate reduces heat production capacity during cold exposure, making women prone to feeling cold as the temperature drops. Also, women have 6-11% more body fat than men, which keeps the inner organs warm, but blocks the flow of blood carrying heat to the skin and extremities. Women also tend to be smaller than males — which gives them a higher skin surface to volume ratio — causing them to lose heat more quickly through the skin.
The problem is, it’s not only about personal comfort, but it’s productivity that is at stake. In a 2019 study undertaken by the University of Southern California, authors discovered that women’s mathematical and verbal performance is affected by temperature. Men perform slightly better at a lower temperature, although the relationship between temperature and men’s performance was less pronounced.
While in the 1960s a 40 year old man might have been representative of most people in office, this is no longer the case as women constitute half of the workforce. It is apparent that the thermal comfort formula should be updated to take account of both men and women in office.
While the thermostat debate goes on, Arctic Affair has put its finger on the problem, developing light but warm luxury knit tops and dresses for women. The garments are made of luxurious and warm yarns and instead of being casual they are stylish and perfect for wearing to office or even to an evening out.
The idea of Arctic Affair is that when you need to deal with cold weather or office temperature, you don’t need many layers. No shawls, cardigans or coats needed when sitting in meetings. When you are wearing an Arctic Affair extra-fine merino dress, one layer will suffice.