2 May 2014

Spring has sprung... but...

Health and Safety is a funny thing in the UK. We don't define an upper limit for the office temperature. Instead we crowd source and use Thermal Comfort as an indicator. This basically means that as long as under 20% of the population are moaning, nobody gives a crap. However, paraphrasing from the HSE website:

  • People working in uncomfortably hot and cold environments are more likely to behave unsafely;
  • The workers' ability to concentrate on a given task may start to drop off and increases the risk of errors occurring;
  • The problems [with adapting to the thermal environment] arise when this choice (to remove jacket, or move away from heat source) is removed, and people are no longer able to adapt.
Due to a little thing in the law they like to call "indecent exposure" I can only take so much clothing off and my desk is somewhat bolted to the ground. Based on this, when the temperature goes up, and I start becoming uncomfortable it stands to reason that I therefore start to lose concentration, start to make errors and behave unsafely. All of which are not in the interests of the business.

Now, being the good corporate citizen that I am, and seeing that the facilities team struggle to manage my environment while the health and Safety team couldn't give a crap, I embarked on a process to allow those around me have their expectations managed about my ability/willingness to help them. Besides, If I don't raise my concerns, and ask for help, letting people know how I operate and the help I need, then when it comes to my end of year review, I can't be punished for having done very little.

So, I started to monitor the temperature in my environment. I measure 3 places around my desk, 1 with adequate movement of people, one with a little more protection regarding wind velocity and the general temperature on my desk. See here:

On a side note, I'm teaching a very challenging little poppet A' Level maths. We did a bit of stats a few weeks back so what the hell:

  • Of the last 9 working I was out of the office 1 of them;
  • Of the remaining 8 days, each day reached over 25 degrees (Celsius) and a call to facilities was raised;
  • Of these 8 calls, one resulted in a drop in temperature to 23 degrees or less within 4 hours. I took that as a success.

You can slice those stats however you like, but basically this is primarily how I arrived at my previous comment about facilities being crap and Health and Safety not giving a crap.

Based on theses figures I have worked out that I am likely to be uncomfortable for 177 days out of the working year. Or about 66% of the time. That seems like cruel and unusual punishment to me.

Anything else interesting you ask? Why yes. So over the last 11 actual days, you can see from the image below that the maximum temperature was 28.7 degrees Celsius, and the lowest was 21.7. Ok, you could suggest that I may be able to influence the maximum with a cup of warm cocoa, but the minimum? overnight? when no one is in the office and the outside temp has been as low as 4 degrees... Apparently we need to save money.... ding ding ding??? anyone?

I spend the 8 days tracking my mood, iratability and other factors, and I came up with a nice banding of temperatures and how well I operate in broad terms.

An evening with my challenging little poppet reminded me of polynomial equations and quadratics... As you can see from the other posts here I like that stuff. I wondered if there was a more graphic way of helping my management team, and those around me. I wondered if there was an equation I could write that would allow anyone to look at the thermometers on my desk and work out what I'm likely to do.

Of course there was an equation (click on it to make it bigger):

So, an executive Summary? Why not:

  • Basically I get feisty and intolerant as I become uncomfortable;
  • This increases the likelihood that I will provide sarcasm instead of and appropriate answer to your question;
  • I work at peak efficiency between 18 and 21.5 degrees Celsius;
  • I always reserve the right to provide sarcasm, especially if it's regarding something I'm not overly interested in;
  • At about 26.5 degrees I will start to actively hinder you for entertainment's sake;
  • At about 28.8 degrees, full on Nige-Anarchy kicks in.

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