Winter office survival guide

Comfort-seeking workers are forced to take matters into their own shivering hands

If you work in an office, you’re probably familiar with the battle over the thermostat. Some co-workers are always hot, while others are bundled in sweaters. If this sounds familiar, Consumer Reports has some tips on how to make your office … an oasis.

It’s a problem of modern indoor work life: Office temperatures are sometimes unpredictable and often out of one’s control. So comfort-seeking workers are forced to take matters into their own shivering hands.

If your building allows space heaters, a small one can warm up your office. The safest place to put it is on the floor, not your desk. Always plug it directly into a wall; don’t use an extension cord. And keep it at least 3 feet away from any combustible materials.

CR’s spot-heating test uses a mannequin wired with sensors to see how your body will feel when you’re sitting 4 and a half feet from a space heater. Tops in CR’s tests are the slimline model from Comfort Zone and the oscillating heater from Lasko.

And remember: Always turn the heater off when you leave the office, even if it’s just for a short meeting.

If being chilly for 8 to 10 hours isn’t bad enough, factor in the dry winter air and you’ll feel like punching the clock. But you don’t have to suffer; consider getting a personal humidifier.

An overheated office can dry out your nasal passages and your skin. Personal humidifiers work well in small rooms, and most of them are easy to maintain.

CR’s humidifier tests evaluate convenience, noise levels, and energy efficiency. The top personal humidifiers are the Hunter, which runs quietly, and the Well at Walgreens, which automatically shuts off when it’s empty.

Another way to warm up in a cold office? A cup of coffee! And CR says numerous studies have found that caffeine can increase alertness and concentration, and may even boost cognitive performance.

But don’t worry if you haven’t nailed the perfect office environment yet. Summer is just around the corner!

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