Sweater Weather Wars

It may not feel like it, but winter is, ostensibly, coming. This means winter weather, and with the cold comes the constant chess match of changing the office thermostat. It’s a tough one to deal with, because everyone has a different idea of what “dressing for the weather” means. In many office settings, this is complicated by what men and women are supposed to wear to comply with office dress codes, gender norms, and fashion trends.

This means that on any given day, a woman may come to the office in a skirt, sweater, and tights, and her male colleague may arrive in a full suit. What do you set the thermostat at then?! If it’s anything like my office, it’s set to the industry standard, which is based on the average male employee in a suit. This means that in many offices, most of the women have a sweater, blanket, or scarf stashed at their desks for the colder days.

It’s tough. No thermostat setting is ever going to make everyone comfortable, and you can’t spend your whole day fiddling with the dial just to try. But maybe it’s time to rethink the default settings in our working life. Is 23 degrees really the right temperature? And for that matter, is 9-5 the best way to get the most out of your employees? Women have been in the workplace for a long time now – maybe it’s time to start reconsidering how offices are built for them.

All the same, I’m still glad it’s fall. Bring on sweater weather!

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