Last year, at the height of El Niño, I abandoned my home office above the dining room and moved my iMac and photo gear into the spare bedroom. Reason? My home office is on an open space where air-conditioning cannot be installed. Well, unless we install centralized air-conditioning in the entire house which we can’t afford unless we install solar panels or wind-driven power generators first — which we can’t afford right now either and which will probably mean tearing up the roof and…
Anyway, the spare bedroom has an air-con unit. If you can recall how terribly hot it was last year and how insufferably long summer seemed to be, well, the air-con in the spare bedroom was more than mildly inviting. The photo of the solid agate flower vase that my mother gave me was taken in that spare bedroom.
Around November last year when the daytime weather started to get comfortably cool, I moved back to my original home office space.
Before Christmas, I got rid of the old blinds and installed curtains. I bought new curtains for the living and dining areas, so the ones that used to be in the living area are now in my home office. Speedy drilled the holes for the curtain rods, naturally. Electric drills aren’t my thing.
I am happily working in my home office now with my iMac on my own desk and with my red couch right behind me for when I switch from writing to reading. But, chances are, when summer comes around, I’ll move to the spare bedroom again. The heat just makes my head stop working. And I’m not being bratty. There is a logical explanation for it and it affects everyone. It has to do with thermal comfort.
When you hear someone say that he can’t think straight because it’s too hot and he consequently becomes less productive or downright unproductive, he isn’t just whining. If you don’t know it yet, air temperature has a direct relation to work productivity. In fact, air temperature is just one factor that affects the thermal comfort of a person (the others — air velocity, radiant temperature, humidity, metabolic heat and clothing insulation). According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the UK’s national independent watchdog for work-related health, safety and illness:
Thermal comfort is defined in British Standard BS EN ISO 7730 as:
‘that condition of mind which expresses satisfaction with the thermal environment.’
So the term ‘thermal comfort’ describes a person’s psychological state of mind and is usually referred to in terms of whether someone is feeling too hot or too cold.
Thermal comfort, therefore, varies from one person to the next. When you consider a workplace for, say, a hundred persons, for productivity, the “HSE considers 80% of occupants as a reasonable limit for the minimum number of people who should be thermally comfortable in an environment.”
In my case, I have a workplace for one — me. Yeah, writing is a lonesome job. So, there’s just my thermal comfort to consider. Which means that, like I said earlier, I’ll probably be moving to the air-conditioned room again in the summer.
I don’t know what affects other people in their own workplace but, apart from thermal comfort, there is another thing that affects my productivity — clutter. I just can’t work in a cluttered space. So, my books — which constitute 90% of my clutter — are on shelves behind the wall on the
right left of the photo. They are within easy reach but they don’t have to eat up space on my home office.