How Office Thermostat Wars Relate to Learning Preferences

Woman Adjusting Thermostat On Central Heating ControlDisagreed with a co-worker over the room temperature lately? If yes, did you decide to put on (or remove) an extra layer of clothing and grin and bear it? Or did you engage in a contest of wills for ultimate thermostatic control?

If you’ve dealt with ambient temperature disagreements—either passively or assertively (or aggressively), you’re not alone. Consider these findings from a recent survey conducted by Software Advice, which builds a shortlist of vendors for software buyers, on improving employee morale and productivity through smart climate control:

  • 50% are dissatisfied at least several times a month with the temperature of their office.
  • 42% say their offices are too warm during the summer, and 56% say the offices are too cold in the winter.
  • The majority (60%) say having more control over their office’s temperature would increase their productivity.
  • The median preferred office temperature for women is 72°F vs. 70°F for men.
  • The frequency of temperature-related dissatisfaction increases with age: 46- to 55-year-old employees are 36 percent more likely to be dissatisfied than 18- to 25-year-olds.

Interesting. But what does temperature have to do with learning and LMS’s?

Everything comes down to freedom of choice. Allowing people to work with and in the conditions they prefer allows work life—productivity, morale, satisfaction…and learning—to flourish.

Do You Know How Your Employees Like to Learn?

Good question. And even if you do know the answer, that answer might change over time. So just ask people—and ask them often.

The top 3 LMS features requested, according to a recent survey by Software Advice are:

  • Microlearning—58% want online learning content to be broken up into multiple, shorter lessons.
  • Gamification—35% want real-life rewards based on learning progress.
  • Social Learning—24% prefer social networking in the form of discussion boards.

There is no substitute for asking people exactly what they want and expect from their training courses.

Be Creative with Training

Once you’ve determined what your employees want from training, be creative with how—and to whom—you deliver it.

As examples, consider:

  • Mobile learning: Creating mLearning that can be taken anytime and anywhere gives learners the ultimate freedom to control the physical environment in which they learn. (And, they can take their learning to a place with the thermostat setting they like.)
  • Blended Learning: Some people prefer classroom training. Others want it online. Mix both into a compelling, overarching program that accommodates individual preferences.
  • Management Skills Training: Managers who are actively engaged in employee training are in the best position to help their employees make the connection between training objectives and the day-to-day job responsibilities. Also, use training as a key element in mentorship programs, to train new managers.

Temperature & Learning Preferences

Office temperature studies indicate that employees can have distinct preferences when it comes to thermostat settings. The suggestions from Software Advice on strategies for ending thermostat wars once and for all can also be used as strategies for providing options for workplace learning:

  • Determine what your employees want. Poll them. Send out surveys. Ask, and follow through.
  • Evaluate new software and technology solutions. Look at options, both traditional and digitally-enabled or -enhanced. And blend options as appropriate.
  • Consider alternative solutions. Even with the latest technology, disagreements over preferences can still occur. Encourage collaboration and communication, and ask employees to help contribute solutions and ideas.

Ponder this: “Do your people have to leave to learn something new [or to feel comfortable]?” The answer will be “No”, if your office environment is accommodating.

How do you accommodate your employees’ preferences to improve productivity and morale?

Gauri Reyes is a talent developer and learning leader with extensive experience in roles ranging from software management to managing the learning function in organizations. She is Principal Learning Strategist and CEO at Triple Point Advisors and Founder of the YOUth LEAD program. Follow her on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.

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