Tennis is one of those sports where maintaining optimum mental concentration throughout the match is important for making the right decisions to win. But as each match progresses it gets harder because the competitors’ brains are fighting with the rest of their body for the energy they need to work well.
From a biological point of view, trying to maintain productive in an office which is too hot or cold involves the same battle for energy.
Research suggests that working in an office environment which is not at the ideal temperature damages our ability to make complex decisions well.
Our brains need energy, in the form of glucose, to function properly. But almost everything our bodies do also uses glucose for energy. As the glucose we have available is a limited resource, different parts of our body are therefore competing for what there is.
When the ambient temperature is unusually hot or cold, our bodies have to use more glucose than normal to keep a healthy internal temperature. Which means there’s less available for our brains.
Cooling the body seems to require more glucose than warming it up, so the glucose demands of an excessively warm office reduce our decision-making abilities more than one which is too cool.
In one study by researchers from the University of Virginia and the University of Houston participants were asked to proofread an article in either a warm (77°F) or a cool (67°F) room. The people in the warm rooms failed to identify almost half the spelling and grammatical errors, while those in the cool rooms only missed a quarter.
In a second study, people were asked to choose between two mobile phone plans in either a warm or a cool room. One plan looked more attractive at first glance but was actually more expensive if analysed more thoroughly. Participants in the cool room made the correct choice more than half the time while those in the warm room achieved that only a quarter of the time because the warmer temperature seemed to make them more likely to rely on simplistic patterns of decision-making.
So what’s the ideal temperature for maintaining optimal concentration, decision-making and productivity in your office? The weight of research suggests the optimal temperature for office working is between 21°C and 22°C.
The advantage office workers have over Andy Murray is, of course, that you can have professionally-installed and regularly maintained air conditioning in your workplace to ensure your working environment is permanently in that temperature sweet spot for maximum concentration and decision-making. Especially over the summer holidays, when your workload may be higher because you’re covering for colleagues on annual leave.
Andy, of course, can’t use air conditioning to reduce the glucose demands of his muscles. Which is why you see him spending so much time drinking a glucose-rich energy drink – to keep his brain working properly as well as feeding his aching muscles.
Here’s hoping he can find enough ways to keep his brain and body working well enough to win!
Aiken is an experienced independent air conditioning and refrigeration specialist servicing the industrial, commercial and marine sectors across Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Dundee. For more information please contact us directly.