Return to office – and the same old bugbears

Do you know what splits opinions? The temperature in the office. It’s a tale as old as time, but it seems that even as we shift towards a post-covid world, the office thermostat is still causing heated discussions.

Like many organisations, it’s been a while since Work Psychology Group’s full team has been together in one office.

But with the government’s recent ‘work from home’ guidance lifted, a handful of our colleagues decided to make use of our lovely new co-working spaces in Derby.

Working remotely

Here at WPG, we’re used to working remotely, as our team is dispersed across the country. But as psychologists we’re also big fans of face-to-face contact. We know all too well how beneficial ‘water cooler talk’ can be for team bonding.  And the value of learning via office osmosis – particularly for more junior members of the team.

And while – yes, much has changed over the past two years, after spending a day in the office, it also seems that much has stayed the same. We say this because the main topic of discussion for us was about the heating.  And more importantly, how to turn it down!


As Psychologist, Yahya Adnan, explains: “When we all first entered the office, there was a rush of warm air. An hour in, as we all started to sweat, we checked the thermostat and found it was set to an unanimously uncomfortable 26 degrees Celsius.

“It was borderline sauna temperatures. Yet our attempts to turn it down so we could cool off were unsuccessful.

“In the end, I had to download a digital manual for the thermostat to ensure both my colleagues and I didn’t melt away. One very intense read of the manual, a YouTube video tutorial and a lot of button-pressing later, we finally managed to knock the temperature down to a more respectable 18 degrees.”

Office bugbears

When it comes to office temperatures, it seems we’re not alone.

According to one stat, 80% of office workers have complained about the temperature of their workplace and we spend an average of just under 15 minutes a day adjusting the office heating.

But whilst temperature may be the primary office bugbear, it’s not alone.  Other points of contention include:

  • Crashing computers
  • Slow internet speeds
  • Office gossip
  • Loud eaters
  • Messy office space
  • Colleagues talking too loudly on the phone

Of course, as psychologists, we can’t help but wonder how this list might change as the country continues to navigate a return to the office.  Perhaps we’ll be more inclined to take tech issues in the office in our stride?   After all, a shared experience is often less frustrating and computer downtime just means more time for talking to colleagues surely?

But noise-related issues could be more noticeable to us after working from home for so long. Plus, with many companies downsizing the amount of office space they retain, factors around personal space could raise their head as we learn to accommodate hotdesking rather than working from a dedicated desk of our own.

Food for thought

Lots to think about.  The interesting thing will be seeing how organisations chose to navigate these new frustrations.  And to make office life work for the majority post COVID.   Particularly given that the majority (59%) of 18-34 year olds are keen to work regularly from the office, in contrast to just 38% of those over 55.

Our advice would be to download the aircon instructions as a minimum!