Temperature can be more divisive than politics.
When I was growing up, my brother and I shared the entire upstairs of our house. He had his room, of course, and I had mine. But since there was only one thermostat upstairs, the air temperature was something we both had to agree on--and we never did agree.
My polar bear of a brother always wanted it around 60 °F, and I wanted 70 °F or higher. From experience, then, I can tell you: when compromising on air temperature is the only way forward, there are no winners.
So what is a shared office provider like Regus supposed to do about office temperature?
It seems like an impossible position. There will inevitably be someone who is unhappy (Regus was actually sued awhile back over a temperature issue). Should Regus cave to one side or the other, or should they choose to compromise by choosing some middle temperature that no one wants?
Over the years, I have fielded thousands of questions about temperature in Regus offices (yes, you read that right), and I would offer offer Regus these suggestions:
Finally, if you discover that your temperature policy in a given office runs counter to either of these considerations, then be ready and willing to concede to any complaint/demand made by one of your affected customers.
Let’s tease these points out. But now, I am going to switch back to explaining it from the perspective of (you) the Regus customer.
If I were having this issue with inhospitable temperatures in my Regus office, this is what I would do...
Step # 1: A smart place to start when you are having an issue with a provider like Regus is to poll your peers.
Are you the only squeaky wheel, or do your office neighbors have similar complaints? I grant that doing this efficiently is not always simple, because…
You might not be acquainted with very many of your neighbors.
You might not know how to ask them in a way that is not time- or cost-prohibitive.
Regus offices tend to feature very little “water-cooler conversation.”
But, if you do have a simple way to ask around, then polling your peers is a great place to start.
Ask the question. Then collect the data.
If you find that you are not alone, then this should make your complaint more compelling to Regus. This is for two reasons. First, it suggests to Regus that the consequence of not solving the issue is greater for them, simply because there would be more than just one disgruntled customer is they ignored you. Second, it bolsters with data this idea of the “reasonable man,” which we will touch on next.
Step # 2: Is my complaint reasonable? What would the “reasonable man” say?
Because I am about to drop some law school knowledge on you, I should first disclaim that I am not your attorney and this is not legal advice; I am just some talking head on the internet and who knows if I know what I am talking about?
That said, there is this legal concept that some courts call the “reasonable man” test. It is exactly what it sounds like: “would a reasonable person find this reasonable?” Or, put another way, “is this a position that a reasonable man would take?”
As a real example, let’s say that you allege that Regus has failed to provide you proper working environment by maintaining office temperatures of 77 °F and higher. A judge might start his evaluation of your case by trying to categorize the positions of each party as either reasonable or unreasonable. “Is it reasonable for Regus to take the position that an office temperature of 77 °F is proper?” “Is it reasonable to allege that it is not proper?” And so on. This test matters, because not all disputes features black-and-white wrongdoing. As in disputes about office temperature, there might be a spectrum of what is reasonable, and subjective parameters for where on the spectrum a reasonable thing crosses over to become unreasonable.
Although...there is some objective evidence of what might be reasonableStudies show that the optimal temperature for performance in an office setting is 71 °F, and in the US OSHA actually recommends an office temperature range of between 68 °F and 76 °F.
Funny example: remember that lady who spilled hot coffee on her lap while driving and then sued McDonald’s? I suspect that most judges might have concluded that her claim--that she had no idea her coffee would be hot enough to scald her bare inner-thigh skin--was unreasonable. But, as you might remember from the headlines, at least one of the judges who heard her case did find it reasonable, and thus she won her case and a few million dollars from McDonald’s.
What does this teach us? One of the nice things about polling your peers as a first step is that you can simultaneously be running your own reasonable man test. Implicitly, the more people you find who share your complaint, the more likely it is that your complaint is reasonable--assuming that Regus does not attract a disproportionate number of unreasonable people, like, arguably, the McDonald’s lady ;)
Step # 3: Ask Regus what they think. But be prepared to do some digging.
When you finish determining whether or not your complaint seems reasonable, move on to the next consideration: how does your temperature issue compare with the expectations Regus set for you before you signed up?
Now as you can imagine, if you ask Regus simply, “hey, Regus, what do you think the temperature in my office should be?” then you are not likely to get a useful response. Instead, sensing that you might be asking because you have a complaint, Regus might try to be clever here and just give you a temperature range that matches the reality about which you are complaining. So, instead, you should consult the expectations Regus set before you signed up and the expectations they continue to set.
Think back to the conversations you had with the Regus salesperson. You might have asked about things like temperature, perhaps, in a surprise sweat while touring the office. The salesperson might have waved off your concern by indicating that the high temperatures were just a temporary thing due to some repair work that was being done that day. You might even have some of this conversation in writing, saved emails perhaps. The weakness of this kind of data point, however, is that Regus has a long history of denying statements like this when denial suits their purposes. “But, Regus, you said that [fill in the blank]!” “No we did not. What proof do you have?” This is called selective memory, which is really just a euphemism for shady.
Anyway, you ideally would be able to find something less deniable to bolster your recollections--of the expectations that were explicitly set by Regus salespeople and promotional materials, before you signed up. And I can take some of the legwork out of this one for you.
Step # 4: You can steal these data points.
What Regus believes to be a reasonable office temperature? According to Celia Donne, global operations director and 20-year veteran of Regus, “reasonable” office temperatures range from 66 °F to 73 °F. In her own words a few years back, "our communal areas are between 19 and 23 degrees. If I set the office temperature at 15 degrees in our 1,500 locations I think a million people would walk out." Further, Celia uses language that sets an expectation, as she she says that “this is the way things are” rather than “this is what we try hard to do when possible.” So any prospective Regus customer should be able to expect this temperature range, and any current Regus customer should be able to actually enjoy this same temperature range.
What expectations does Regus set about office temperatures? Many of Regus’s location advertisements emphasize the feature of temperature-control and the consequent benefit of comfort. Here are some examples, pulled randomly from among Regus’s 3,000 or so global location advertisements:
If the promotional materials make the claim, then it suggests that Regus salespeople are making similar claims and setting similar expectations. And most importantly, why do you suppose Regus devotes so much attention to claims about temperature and comfort? Because Regus knows that it matters to professional office-workers, and knowing what environmental conditions to expect in an office is among the top material parts of prospective customer’s evaluation of a space and his/her subsequent purchase decision.
Therefore, if you find yourself objecting to the temperature of your Regus office, you should be able to take the position that “you promised temperature-controlled comfort and failed to deliver it.” Regus might object that what is comfortable is subjective, of course. But the position I might then take is that, by including this admittedly subjective claim in your sales process--and not providing an objective definition yourself--you have implicitly agreed to let me, or any other “reasonable man,” define it.
Is the objectionable temperature of your particular Regus office in line with that of other Regus offices? Regus claims to have a policy of "Ensuring consistency of approach with regards to lighting and heating across centres (operating times and temperature)." So if the temperature of your particular office is not in line with the temperature of other Regus offices, then you could take the position that Regus is failing to meet this expectation that it set for itself, and that you in turn relied on. If you know Regus customers who work at other Regus offices, ask them to tell you what the temperature is at their office right now.
Boom. With those four steps, you should be able to put together your own complaint about the temperature of your Regus office.
A few final points…
You are not alone. This might surprise you, but Veeto gets thousands of temperature complaints every month from Regus customers. So if you find yourself objecting to the temperature of your office, know that you are not alone and that the cause of the objectionable temperature or more likely to be company policy than some random malfunction. Think about it. If Regus turns the temperature down just one degree in the summer in every single one of its offices across the globe, that is going to present Regus with a significant uptick in operations cost. So choosing to not honor their own temperature claims could be just one of many sneaky ways Regus might try to cut costs.
Attorneys are affected by temperature too. If you are not an attorney, then might wonder whether complaining about office temperature is legitimate, something that bears actual legal weight. The answer is often yes. This is for many reasons. One might be that, no matter your profession, if you pay for a certain caliber of service and then fail to get it, you should be entitled to either your money back or the option to abandon that service, allowing you to find another provider who is willing and able to provide you what you pay for. Another might be that asking your clients to meet you in a sauna in the summer or a freezer in the winter, dressed in full, professional attire, is simply unprofessional--such that doing so could hurt your business by damaging your company’s reputation and actually scaring away customers. (In fact, here is the demand letter that one attorney wrote to Regus about his 80 °F office temperatures in Miami). So temperature complaints are not frivolous or petty. Depending on the degree of excess or inadequacy (pun intended), office temperature matters.
Too hot is about as common as too cold. Use the temperature ranges provided above as a guide, and speak up when you are being asked to endure temperatures unreasonably outside of those limits. Start by asking the office staff to make an adjustment, and I suggest that you do this by email so that you have a written record. If you fail to get a resolution there, ask the next person up the chain, and after three strikeouts, start with the steps outlined in this post.
Computers and bodies give off a lot of heat when enclosed in a small room. A concern about temperature need not speak to your personal comfort. We have have handled cases where the basis of the complaint was that the Regus salesperson assured a guy that the office he was being sold had adequate ventilation to release the heat thrown off by the guy’s computer servers. But after the guy moved in, he quickly realized that he was only able to run four out of his ten servers simultaneously due to the dangerously high temperatures that his office reached due to inadequate ventilation.
If you found this post helpful, then check out Wegus, the first and only LinkedIn discussion group for Regus customers by Regus customers.
The group is still new, and therefore growing. But the point is that there are a lot of Regus customers, and we all have similar issues but no way to easily share experiences. So we asked a few Regus customers we knew and got overwhelming feedback that this was something that needed to exist. So we created it!
The article you just read is a good example of the kind of discussions we have. So if you found this article helpful, why not join?
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