It's August. so Why Is Your Office Freezing?
For many women, here's what summer "business casual" looks like: a dress or a skirt and blouse, plus a thick sweater, wool blanket for the legs, and sometimes even a space heater to stick under your desk.Yes, judging by the temperatures in some corporate offices, you'd think humans weren't capable of surviving outside a meat locker. As soon as the temperatures rise outside, they drop inside. I've been in offices going through major rounds of cost-cutting -- like rationing office supplies and dropping carrots from the salad bar -- but the AC is still cranked to a level that implies management likes to set fire to $100 bills.Why is that? I have long assumed it's a vestige of patriarchy. Corporate office temperatures are set to be comfortable to slightly heavy-set men in suits. If you're wearing three layers up top (T-shirt, dress shirt, jacket) and wool pants and socks, then I can see how a temperature in the low 60s might be necessary to avoid any sweat whatsoever. The fact that such temperatures will feel cold to a woman wearing a skirt (even with nylons) is just not considered relevant to serious business -- much like discussions of telecommuting or flexible hours or other such touchy-feely concepts.But in an era when we are becoming more and more concerned about the environmental impact of our decisions, near-freezing office temperatures are a huge waste on many levels. And it turns out that even the most formal cultures can change if they want. Trending News Acosta Resigns "Trauma" Of Family Separation Mueller Testimony WATCH: R. Kelly Arrested At least that's the lesson I'm taking from Japan where, after the March earthquake and tsunami, the country is operating with a lot less power capacity than it had last year. Japanese citizens have headed off rolling blackouts by conserving -- a big part of which has been raising the temperature in frosty offices. Japanese executives have learned that you can conduct business in short sleeve shirts and khakis. Casual, heat-beating work clothes have become (literally) cool.There's no reason we can't behave the same way. I'm not saying don't turn on the AC at all. But a temperature in the high 70s is perfectly reasonable when it's 90 degrees outside. There's no reason to make your employees pack mittens in their purses.What's the temperature in your office?Related:Can You Become a Morning Person?Working Parents Have Plenty of Free Time What Would You Do If You Couldn't Be Fired?Photo courtesy flickr user, Caza_No_7