Ergonomic climate - The right temperature at the workplace

The right workplace equipment and optimum lighting are important ergonomic aspects in everyday working life. Another important aspect of ergonomics in the workplace is the right room temperature in the office. I'm sure we've all experienced it: it's terribly cold around the legs or you're sweating profusely in summer. But what does the ideal temperature at the workplace really look like? What do you do if you're still always too hot or too cold? And are there actually laws about maximum and minimum temperatures in the workplace? You can find out this and more in this blog article.

    What is the right temperature - laws on temperature in the workplace

    In this article, we report on the legal situation regarding ergonomics and indoor climate. We take a look at the regulations in Germany, Austria and Switzerland regarding the right temperature at the workplace. In particular, of course, we refer to office workplaces. At the end of this post you will find further resources on the legal situation, including guidelines on other working environments.


    The basis for the regulations on the correct temperature in the workplace here is the Workplace Ordinance (ArbStättV) and Technical Rule A3.5. (link to PDF)

    The law in Germany stipulates that work premises must have a climate that is conducive to health during working hours.

    This is not particularly specific, but is further specified by the technical rule. The work processes taking place and the physical activity of the employees must always be taken into account, as these factors also generate heat. The Workplace Ordinance also states that - in order to avoid heat - glass domes or large windows with high solar radiation must be covered or shielded if there is a high risk of heat. This also prevents excessive overheating of the office space.

    Die richtige Temperatur am Arbeitsplatz

    However, because the ArbStättV does not specifically apply here, it is usually interpreted further and more specifically by Technical Rule A3.5. This provides more precise information on temperatures that should not be exceeded in connection with the physical activity carried out at work. Anyone wishing to consult their employer about excessive temperatures in the office or at other workplaces can therefore refer to the technical rule.

    This rule makes it clear that the temperature regulations of the Workplace Ordinance must be measured against the severity of the work and then individually adapted. This means that the heavier the work activity, the lower the minimum temperature. For light physical work, such as in an office, this temperature is then around +19°C to +20°C. The technical rule also sets a kind of maximum temperature: If +26°C is exceeded, employers can be required to take heat-reducing measures, such as sun canopies or solar control glazing on windows. From a room temperature of +35°C, the room may no longer be used as a workplace at all until the temperature is reduced again.


    In Austria, regulations and laws on temperature in the workplace are based on the Employee Protection Act (ASchG) and the Workplace Ordinance (AStV). The law in Austria is more specific than in Germany in that the Workplace Ordinance specifies actual temperatures. In standard offices, for example, the temperatures should bebetween +19°C and +25°C .

    Workspaces must have indoor climatic conditions that are appropriate for the human organism.

    The Austrian Chamber of Labor strongly believes that intense heat or even cold reduce the ability to concentrate and productivity. For this very reason, it should be in the interest of employers to ensure that their offices have an optimal climate. Air conditioning systems are not mandatory, but if there are no ventilation systems, they must be ventilated manually, whereby there are strict rules on the intensity of draughts (specified in m/s airflow velocity).


    The legal basis for the temperature at the workplace in Switzerland is provided by the Guidance on Ordinances 3 and 4 to the Labor Act. The provisions on indoor climate can be found in Section 2 from Article 16 to Article 21.

    Room temperature, air speed and relative humidity must be measured and coordinated in such a way that a room climate that is not detrimental to health and is appropriate for the type of work is guaranteed.

    The Swiss guidelines to the Labor Act have been worked out in detail. The specifications are therefore much more specific than in the Austrian law. For example, not only the exact percentage composition of the air in the office is determined, but also factors such as humidity depending on the temperature, as well as pollutant levels in the air. However, as we want to go into more detail on temperature alone in this article so as not to go beyond the scope, we will set out the minimum temperatures at office workplaces in Switzerland below.

    At a workplace where little to light physical activity is performed, the temperature should bebetween +20°C and +23°C . The heavier the activity, the lower the minimum temperature. The floor temperature must also be at least +19°C at all times, but should not exceed +25°C.

    Does the employer cover the cost of a fan?

    Heat in the office in particular is a recurring problem. Now that you know the regulations on temperature in the workplace and can refer to the correct legal texts, it is also possible to point out a heat problem to your employer. If the temperature in your office constantly exceeds the legal limit, the company management will also have to pay for the cost of a fan or even air conditioning. For direct support in this matter and for the correct forms, it is best to contact the following contact points:

    Ergonomics and indoor climate

    What you have certainly read or will find on our site many times is the definition of the term ergonomics. Ergonomics means helping people to work in the best possible and health-promoting environment so that their health and bodies are protected in the best possible way. The right temperature at the workplace also plays a key role here, as it has an immense influence on our well-being and therefore our productivity and motivation.

    What effects does temperature have on our body and our health?

    Our bodies are masters at regulating their temperature. Different cells and organs in the body often need precise temperatures in order to function properly. Just thinking about fever, we know that a few degrees fluctuation in body temperature can have serious consequences for our well-being. A temperature difference of plus or minus 3° Celsius (based on the average body temperature of around 37° Celsius) can already be life-threatening for us! Even if we fall below 27° Celsius, we are already at risk of dying from hypothermia. So it's easy to see that the right temperature can be the be-all and end-all.

    Thermometer zeigt 40 Grad Celsius

    Air conditioning - a curse or a blessing?

    (Source: )

    Sitting in a pleasantly air-conditioned office on a really hot summer's day is a privilege that not everyone has. However, you also have to be careful: If you overdo it with the cool air, illnesses such as colds or headaches can occur as a result. Irritated skin and concentration problems can also be caused by the air conditioning.

    To avoid these complaints, you should make sure that the difference between the temperature at your workplace and the temperature outside is no more than 6°C, thus avoiding abrupt temperature fluctuations. You should also ensure that air conditioning systems are regularly maintained and cleaned. If this is not done, microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi, which collect and multiply in the filters and pipes, are thrown into our human organism with the air flow.

    Even if temperature is a matter of taste at the end of the day, there are a number of aspects that need to be considered when setting the right room temperature at the workplace to avoid endangering your own health. Anyone who is constantly cold will sooner or later fall ill. Temperature at the workplace can therefore be ergonomic and should be adjusted in the interests of optimum human health.

    Ventilation is the be-all and end-all

    Fresh air is the best air. A good rule of thumb for regular fresh air is to ventilate once an hour. It is best to open the windows several times a day for 3-4 minutes, so that the air is thoroughly exchanged but the walls do not cool down too much. This should only be avoided if it is extremely hot outside or if the air outside is very contaminated with fine dust or pollutants (e.g. companies in an industrial area). In this case, the use of air purifiers or pollutant filters is recommended to prevent more serious problems.

    In the morning, at the start of the working day, the temperature should generally be set slightly warmer and cool down during the course of the day so that the body does not become too tired towards the afternoon or evening. Depending on what type of heat regulation is available in your office (radiators, underfloor heating, etc.) and how quickly the temperature at the workplace can be changed, you can generally follow this approximate pattern. You should still listen to your body: If you are too cold or too hot, find a remedy.

    What do I do if I'm still too hot or too cold?

    Communicate your wishes

    As a general rule, communication should be the first means of improvement. Try to talk to your colleagues. Perhaps you can agree to ventilate a few more or fewer times a day. Try to be fair: If everyone else is already sweating in T-shirts, it would probably be fair to expect you to put on a few more shirts and sweaters instead. In most cases, a conversation like this will improve the temperature situation.

    Onion technique

    If you are always alternately hot and cold on the same day, the onion technique is a good idea: Dress in several thin layers every day. This way you can always adjust the degree of warmth through your clothing. This also applies to socks, as having cold feet is particularly unpleasant. Thick, plush socks can be a real highlight in a cold office. If the nature of your work allows it, try working comfortably in thick socks!

    Heating plates and heating pads

    No matter the reason: when it gets very cold outside and the company wants to save on heating costs, or there are regular draughts due to open doors: You quickly start to feel cold. Even if you're just a great lover of warmth, you're bound to get cold at some point if the temperature at your workplace is too low. One solution to this dilemma is heating plates and heating pads. They are usually not a problem for most employers and are often installed by employees in the immediate vicinity of their workplace.

    The great thing is that they can be switched on and off as required and their heat intensity can be regulated. Whether it's a panel on the wall behind you or heat pads on your chair or under your feet, you'll never be cold again!

    Table fans

    On particularly hot summer days, table fans are a quick and effective remedy for breaking out in a sweat. Positioned correctly, they won't affect your employees at all. However, before you buy a table fan for the office, you should make sure that it is permitted. Make sure you try out the fan beforehand (it's better to buy it in a store than online) to find out whether the air flow is comfortable for you and whether the noise level is limited during operation.

    After all, it shouldn't disturb your colleagues at work. When the hot summer comes to an end, you can easily store the table fan at home until next year.

    Change workstation

    We don't mean that you should radically change your job, but of course only your literal place of work. If none of the other solutions mentioned help and you find yourself on the verge of a temperature-induced nervous breakdown almost every day, ask your boss for an individual office or another separate workspace where you can decide for yourself how hot or cold it should be. A home office would also be an ideal solution here.

    Frau arbeitet im Büro

    In the future, constant and individual temperature adjustment in the office will be used as part of a holistic solution for smart offices. Some of these futuristic technologies already exist, but they are still a long way from being commonplace. We have already written another blog post about future technologies and the hyper-adaptable workplace . To make sure you don't miss any of these posts, subscribe to our newsletterat here .

    Last but not least, it must be said that at the end of the day, temperature in the workplace is also highly subjective. Each and every one of us finds different degrees of warmth comfortable to work in. The important thing is that you feel comfortable!

    Resources and further reading: