There are three common problems employees face in the summer: Trying to focus or get anything done when it is beautiful outside and half your office (and people you communicate with) are on vacation living their best lives, fighting the urge to not wear shorts, flipflops, skimpy sundresses, beach coverups, bathing suits every day, and arguing with your coworkers over the temperature in the office. Oh, summer in the office!
According to a new CareerBuilder survey, nearly half of workers (46%) say their office is either too hot or too cold – and 51% say sitting in an office that is too cold impacts their productivity, 67% say sitting in an office that is too warm does the same. This all can lead to some major disputes as 15% say they’ve argued with a coworker about office temperature (7% of men versus 22% of women and corporate temperature espionage as 19% admit they’ve secretly changed the office temperature in the summer. If you aren’t careful, you may find yourself curled up under your desk in the fetal position wrapped in a Snuggie and holding on to a popsicle. Not that I’ve done that …
But there is a new invention that has the potential to fix the thermostat wars. The Embr Wave, which when you wear it around your wrist looks a bit like the Apple Watch, will help you cool down and warm up at the press of a button. It’s your own personal cooling system that doesn’t leave you vulnerable to your 50 coworker’s diverse hypothalamus receptors (the part of the brain that produces hormones that regulate the body’s temperature).
Started by MIT educated Embr Labs co-founders David Cohen-Tanugi and Sam Shames, they wanted to serve the 10% of people who are “thermally underserved.” I tried out the product and though I feel like most of the temperature change was in my wrist area it did definitely warm me up in our freezing cold office so I was quite satisfied.
Ladders spoke with Shames about the Wave and how it could finally resolve the thermostat wars:
On coming up with the idea
We came up with the idea to heat and cool people directly after we had to put on sweatshirts in an overly air-conditioned lab in the middle of June. We entered a student contest in the materials science and engineering department at MIT in the summer of 2013.
On the Wave potentially replacing the office AC
While it’s not a replacement for air conditioner or heaters, it should definitely help reduce their usage. Our research with UC Berkeley has shown that 3 minutes of using Embr Wave can make people who are uncomfortable, feel like a room is +5 degrees. That means if I’m too hot in a 72-degree room, then Embr Wave can make the room feel 67-68.
On choosing the Wave over layering up or off
There’s a time and a place where adding and removing layers makes sense. We’ve heard from customers who work in professional settings in which they don’t have the freedom to add and remove layers of clothing, so they use Embr Wave to stay more comfortable. We also hear that Embr Wave gives users more control over the temperature than adding and removing layers because you can adjust exactly how warm or cold it feels and tune it to your sweet spot.
On the new features
We introduced Extended Mode based on feedback from our customers. A number of people have regular meetings in freezing conference rooms and wanted to set Embr Wave once and then have it run for an entire 30-minute meeting. We have been working with these customers for months to develop and test this new feature. Once we knew they loved it, we released it to all our customers via the Embr Wave App. We’re really committed to listening to our customers in order to learn their needs and develop new features based on that feedback loop. We’re excited that the Embr Wave App can offer these kinds of improvements to customers.
On women needing the Wave more
We find that women tend to be more thermally underserved than men, and we do have more female customers than male. However, temperature is personal, and we hear from both men and women about how Embr Wave helps them warm up, cool down, and take control of their comfort.