I do tend to believe the old adage “cold hands, warm heart” as my mom has the coldest hands I know. But I can’t prove that cold hands specifically lead to more errors at work—at least not in the type of work we all do at our desks. In my research about cold hands, however, I learned a few things that confirm my devotion to climate controls at individual workstations.
- Cold does impact work. According to “4 ways your freezing office is sabotaging your success,” in Business Insider, cold leads to lower productivity, weight gain, unhappiness and more errors. The problem here is who defines the cold temperature? With 60% of workers claiming to be too hot or too cold at work, it’s clear that one temperature does not fit all.
- Cold fingers lose dexterity. If you’ve read Into Thin Air, you no doubt surmised that fingers lose their dexterity in sub-zero temperatures, and the Dutch actually proved this in a research study. But we’re not talking about sub-zero temperatures—we’re talking about temps in the high 60s (I hope), where the cold is more of a distraction than a danger. The impact on work is still real: According to a Cornell University study, employees in an office at 68° made 44% more errors than the office at 77°. (But c’mon, who’s going to keep the office at 77° degrees! That’s even outside the OSHA recommendation of 68°–76°.)
- Using a computer makes hands cold. I would have bet that a proper ergonomic setup would prevent your hands from getting cold when using a keyboard or mouse. And I would have been wrong. The fascinating study, “Wrist Hypothermia Related to Continuous Work with a Computer Mouse: A Digital Infrared Imaging Pilot Study,” determined that a neutral wrist keeps hands warm slightly longer but the cold comes in within 2 hours. For many reasons, I still advocate for a neutral wrist and overall attention to ergonomics.
- Women’s hands are colder than men’s. The University of Utah proved that women’s hands tend to be 2.8° colder than men’s. And since more than 70% of dispatchers are women, we’ve got a whole lot of dispatchers with cold hands. After installation, I talk to many dispatchers about their new Xybix consoles and women often cite the heater as their favorite part.
So we have all these cold hands and we know they’re uncomfortable if not impacting work outright. Your friend Google will offer up 183 million(ish) results for “how to fix cold hands.” Gloves, warm water baths, hand warmers, giving up coffee (Wait, what? No!). None of these are conducive to working at a computer.
This is why Xybix and other technical furniture vendors devised personal heaters for hands and feet. I may be biased, but I love our new Axys Control Center, which goes far beyond providing high-quality personal heaters and fans. Axys actually allows users to save all their ergonomic settings and personal preferences—from desk height to lighting to temperature—as different scenes. The touch of a button brings your scene to life in seconds when you start your shift and as your mood and needs change throughout the day. Everyone is happy: The ones with cold hands and the ones with hot hands.
Oh, guess what else I learned in my research? First, I found out that “cold hands, warm heart” does not mean that physically cold hands are a sign of a nice person. According to Random House Dictionary of Proverbs and Sayings, it means, “A reserved, cool exterior may disguise a kind heart.” Second, I read in Scientific American that people with warm hands do not necessarily have cold hearts. So, there you go.
For further reading on temperature control in workspaces, I highly recommend checking out a previous Xybix blog, too: https://blog.xybix.com/how-to-avoid-the-polar-vortex-of-temperature-in-your-comm-center