The freezing office is a phenomenon much bemoaned by workers. It ranks as the No. 1 employee complaint on various workplace polls.
16 ways to stay warm when your office is freezing, according to my coworkers
Freezing offices can sabotage your success. Here are tips on how to not let that happen.
The theory is that it's often brought about by the disparity between men and women's body temperatures. While indoor temperature standards have been based since the 1960s on the preferences of the typical man, women tend to run cooler than their male colleagues — and so the suffering begins.
When Business Insider decided to test this theory out amongst our coworkers two summers ago, we indeed found that more women than men reported that the office was too cold (58 women versus 27 men).
But arctic conditions have grown more dire since then, and now a great majority of the people in the New York office are afflicted.
Since any attemptedfixes from the building have been short-term at best — "I suffer in pain at the cruel hands of the land owners!" one staffer laments — my coworkers have become the ultimate for thawing remedies.
"Personally I like Lands' End because my mother buys them for me — but they're also lightweight and a good value for the money," he says. "They're nice to throw on over a T-shirt, and I always bring one when I fly for the cold climate on the plane."
"I just keep a hoodie at my desk," says Andy Kiersz, a quant reporter at Business Insider. "If it's cool out when I leave work, I wear it out. If not, I leave it here."
Kiersz says he prefers being too cold over being too hot. "You can always add a layer, but you can't always take off a layer," he notes.
Kiersz often turns to a light-cotton sweatshirt he bought from Brooklyn-discounter Telco for $20.
Richard Feloni, a senior strategy reporter at Business Insider, also prefers to go the less-expensive route. He says that, on a particularly chilly-office day, he jetted down the block to Old Navy, where he spent no more than $20 on a hoodie.
"The unvarnished truth — I wanted the cheapest possible option. Something that wouldn't look stupid but something I wouldn't mind losing if it were stolen," he says.
"I usually throw a denim jacket on before I leave my house in the morning because I know it'll be cold and denim jackets are cute and pretty warm and don't look too unprofessional in the office," Amanda McKelvey says.
She recommends a classic denim jacket from the Gap.
All of the above
"An entire drawer in my filing cabinet is dedicated to sweaters and jackets," says Rebecca Harrington, an associate editor at Business Insider. "I layer them over my summer clothes every day and periodically wash and switch them out with ones at home."
Several BI staffers, including our Editor-in-Chief Alyson Shontell, swear by space heaters year round.
Chloe Miller, a producer at INSIDER, uses one that was gifted to her by an old colleague. "I put it on a little cubby under my desk. It gets really hot, so I am constantly turning it on and off," she says.
"I absolutely love it, and it's made the freezing office much more bearable. It's compact and has a bunch of color options. It also has two heat settings (low and high)."
"I never leave my house without a scarf since I sit directly under a vent," an anonymous Business Insider staffer says. She says she never shops anywhere but Marshalls, TJMaxx, or Forever21 for her scarves and never spends more than $10.
"I love this one because it's soft, comfortable to wear, and extra long in case I need to wrap it around me for extra warmth," she says.
Stephanie Pandolph, a research analyst for Business Insider Intelligence, also suggests keeping a large scarf at your desk and using it as a blanket.
An anonymous Business Insider staffer says that, each morning before work, she stops and buys a hot green tea. "I ask for it extra hot just to warm my soul (and hands.) It also keeps semi-warm the first few hours of work," she says.
water bottles with plain hot water from the kitchen, keeps it in her lap as a heating pad, and drinks it as it cools.
"We make a joke during orientation that you have to have an ugly backup sweater or cardigan that stays in your office at all times," says Eve Stieglitz, the director of talent at Business Insider.
By "ugly sweater" Stieglitz means something that you wouldn't mind losing permanently.
"Mine is a slightly scratchy cardigan that I bought while on vacation and needed because I was already out and cold," she says.
A few BI staffers say that keeping a blanket on their lap makes a world of difference.
One anonymous Business Insider staffer recommends choosing an unobtrusive, solid color so it won't draw attention. "Maybe dark — mine's navy — so if you spill coffee on it it doesn't matter," she says, noting that throw-size is recommended over blanket-size so there's not too much extra fabric to dig through when typing.
Another anonymous employee similarly recommends going with a subdued, classic print, "so it doesn't look too out of place when I'm in a meeting."
She says she isn't too concerned about receiving negative comments or raised eyebrows from coworkers, though.
"I've never felt uncomfortable bringing it to meetings," she says. "I think it would be more distracting if I sat there shivering the whole time, you know?"
USB-powered fingerless gloves
"I have two pairs and I love them both," says Beth Frutkin, the senior director of ad traffic at Business Insider.
"To use the handwarmers you just remove them from the packaging and place them in your hands or pocket," an anonymous Business Insider staffer says. "It uses a cool air activating technology, and in a few minutes they start to warm up."
"I went to college in upstate NY, so many days when it sunk below zero, I'd place them inside my jacket pockets or gloves for extra warmth as I walked to class," she says.
"This is my third summer here at BI, and I swear it's the coldest," says Angela Zhao, a junior project manager for Business Insider Studios.
In addition to keeping two cardigans at her desk and an extra pair of socks in her drawer for when she just can't bear to wear open-toe shoes in the office, Zhao says she has considered bringing in her to use at her desk.
Among the pros of using the heat pad, Zhao says there are three heat settings, the pad offs after around three hours of use — "which is great for times I forget to turn it off" — and it comes with a removable sleeve that can be washed.
"Honestly, I don't really see any cons for this," Zhao says. "I just haven't brought it in yet because I'm afraid coworkers will think I'm a little odd for having it here!"
Run your hands under hot water
"Every time I take a bathroom break, I use the sink with the warmest water to wash my hands to thaw out my fingers," says Meryl Gottlieb, a social video editor at Business Insider.
Let the summer in
If you're near a window, just open it, suggests Jacob Shamsian, a reporter at INSIDER.
Go for a walk
"If all else fails I walk around outside until I warm up," Pandolph says.
Harrington says she incorporates this into her daily routine.
"I try to take an afternoon break on the roof to defrost for 10 minutes," she says. "If your office doesn't have a roof, heading anywhere outside can help you warm up, and it's a great opportunity to recharge. Work can spare you for a 10-minute break, and you'll come back refreshed, I promise."
Get worked up
"I b***h and moan until my internal body temperature increases by a few degrees," says Alex Morrell, a senior finance reporter at Business Insider.
"Mostly I cry on the inside and complain. Like a lot," McKelvey says.
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