• Most South Africans building managers Business Insider SA spoke to agree that the ideal temperature for offices is 22 degrees Celsius. 
  • Depending on the air-conditioning system there can be a 1.5 degree variation, making a perfect setting of between 20.5 and 23.5.
  • Women and older people tend to prefer higher temperatures. 

Most South African building managers agree that 22 degrees Celsius is the best temperature for offices, according to a property group with 70 commercial buildings in South Africa.

But while you are looking for 22 degrees, you may have to set your thermostat slightly lower, or higher.

"Because different aircons have different outputs, the temperature can vary by 1.5 degrees Celsius,” Michael Dickinson, project manager at Rabie Property group, tells Business Insider South Africa.

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And it is best for anyone who disagrees to adapt to that temperature.

For those who do not find the temperature comfortable, the best recommendation is to either wear a jersey or something cooler, says Theo Mac Simlah, facility manager at the Media24 building in the Cape Town foreshore.

“This is normally a very contentious issue in all buildings, but best practice is somewhere between 21 to 24 degrees Celsius,” Simlah says. 

But women and older people like warmer temperatures 

Though there may be no argument among building managers, it is normal for employees to disagree over what they find the "ideal temperature", says George Vicatos, mechanical engineering professor at the University of Cape Town.

“Females specifically usually prefer one degree higher temperature than males for all ages,” Vicatos says.

“Employees older than 50 years also prefer one degree higher temperatures than the younger ones, regardless of the gender.”

Employers often forget that humidity plays as big a role to create a comfortable office environment as temperature, he says. 

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“According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), temperatures can range between 22 and 28 degrees and the humidity between 40% and 60%,” Vicatos says. 

Typical relative humidity in Cape Town is 77%, and in Durban it is 79% – but in Johannesburg it is only 60%.

Gary Prescott, which is responsible for the Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s 3,000 aircons - and who has worked with aircons for over 23 years – says employers have to stop trying to keep everyone happy with aircon temperatures. 

“The only way that is going to happen is if people worked in individual offices where each person have control over their own temperature,” Prescott says.