How To Win The Thermostat Wars And Other Workplace Battles

by Elizabeth Dukes on July 10, 2018

Whether your workplace has 50 employees or 5,000, there will inevitably be issues on which employees disagree.

Some can be resolved with a simple fix—for instance, reminding people to wipe down the microwave after they use it. Others require more involvement.

Take a look at a few ways workplace leaders can resolve common workplace battles.

Talk It Out and Find a Compromise

In previous articles, we’ve discussed the importance of communication in the workplace. However, open communication between team members or between different departments isn’t limited to only conversations about major issues. When it comes to resolving workplace battles, the first course of action should always be to sit down and hash it out.

Find a shared space where everyone can easily voice their opinions. Meetings like this allow employees to be honest and forthright, instead of being frustrated and grumbling at their desks. If necessary, bring in an objective third party to help guide the conversation and ensure the meeting results in progress towards a resolution. There’s no point in holding a meeting if everyone just talks over each other.

One option is to create a schedule where each party has a designated time where they’re in charge of the workplace element causing the conflict. For example, if one side of the office gets uncomfortably warm from the afternoon sun, they can set the thermostat from 1-6 p.m.

Or, if one person in the office arrives early every morning and sets the radio to Yacht Rock (but everyone else is getting tired of hearing Michael McDonald), give each department a day where they get to choose the music.

Bottom Line: You’ll never be able to please everyone in the workforce at all times, but look for a solution that appeases the majority.

Implement a Flexible Workplace Design

Many workplace battles can be resolved by employing a flexible workplace design strategy—for example, hot desking or activity-based working (ABW). ABW and hot desking give employees more control over where they work throughout the day. Since no one workspace is always occupied by the same person, these types of flexible workplace design strategies can stop workplace battles before they begin.

In an office that uses hot desking, members of the workforce reserve their workspace upon arrival. Any unoccupied space is up for grabs on a first-come, first-served basis. By design, hot desking encourages employees to regularly choose different workstations. Employees can try out different workspaces until they find one that best suits their needs.

Like hot desking, in an ABW environment, there are no assigned seats. But, unlike hot desking where employees choose one space to work for the day, ABW lets employees move from one workspace to another throughout the workday. In this workplace strategy, members of the workforce can choose to work in a variety of different spaces, each reserved for a specific task.

Since a person’s body temperature, energy level and mood fluctuate throughout the day, ABW helps ensure they’re always comfortable and working in the type of space that increases their productivity. If one part of the office is too hot or too cold, they can move to a workspace with a temperature closer to what they prefer. Or if one area is too loud (or too quiet), employees can move to an environment that’s better suited to their liking.

Use Smart Technology and Employee Experience Software

Flexible workplace strategies like activity-based working and hot desking require smart technology to operate efficiently. More specifically, companies that implement these strategies should consider installing Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to track occupancy. And these sensors must be connected to a solution like employee experience software. Employee experience software is the home of the tools the workforce needs to get the most out of the workplace—for example, workspace reservation.

Additionally employee experience software may be the answer to workplace battles regarding temperature and the overall office ecosystem through a service request feature. For example, an uncomfortable workspace may simply be the result of a malfunctioning HVAC unit or a busted lighting system. Employees can easily submit a service ticket to have the issues evaluated by the facilities team and resolve the problem causing conflict in the first place.

While there’s no way to avoid every conflict in a workplace, you can certainly take steps to reduce the number of disputes. After all, the office is a community, and a community cannot thrive without harmony.


Elizabeth Dukes

Elizabeth Dukes' pieces highlight the valuable role of the real estate and facility managers play in their organizations. Prior to iOFFICE, Elizabeth was in sales for large facility and office service outsourcing firm.

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