chart me a path to cold air
July 13, 2010 2:59 PM   Subscribe

what sort of office-professional jobs involve year-round immersion in temperatures below 65F, and how might one consider qualifying for them?

having now spent years in a desk-job work-environment of 80+F and high humidity, wearing wool suits and ties, watching papers curl and mold, i'm curious if there are any non-food-related occupations that an educated young guy could aspire to? for instance: i recall tv studios being delightfully frigid some time ago, but don't know if the cameras require that sort of cooling anymore? i'm decidedly white-collar, and likely will remain so -- trying to see if there might be a hidden strategy to find comfortable (for me) air for the rest of a career.

details: mid-30s, post-grad education, bloke, u.s., white-collar,
posted by garfy3 to Work & Money (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You mean besides penguin wrangling? I'd suggest starting your own business, working from home, or something else that will give you personal control over your thermostat.
posted by Aizkolari at 3:04 PM on July 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've worked in plenty of white collar jobs. Nowhere have I worked has the air conditioned office been at 80F.

TV studios are cold from what I recall, as well. But that doesn't strike me as white collar.

Perhaps I'm not understanding what you're looking for here.
posted by dfriedman at 3:05 PM on July 13, 2010

You could work for a company that is based in Subtropolis, which is 65 degrees year 'round. Not really white collar, though.
posted by zsazsa at 3:08 PM on July 13, 2010

well, you could just move North, no? Perhaps they're hiring in Nunavut.

Other than that, a meat processing plant would be cold. I usually find movie theatres, malls and churches to be fairly chilly.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:08 PM on July 13, 2010

I'd say you may want to go north, or head towards the coasts. Then you can have your pick of jobs. Also, full suits and ties are not required with all white-collar jobs. Perhaps look for something a bit more casual (though being able to wear dark sneakers doesn't feel all that casual to me).
posted by filthy light thief at 3:09 PM on July 13, 2010

You could go into theoretical astrophysics/cosmology/gravitation. I've never been in a theorist's office which was too warm. You also get to spend your days fiddling with indices and doing integrals and computing Riemann tensors...

Sounds exciting, no?
posted by chicago2penn at 3:15 PM on July 13, 2010

Archivist. Properly maintained archives are frigid and dry. You will probably need a MS in Library and Information Science ([this is the degree I have] or equivalent, there is a lot of variety [MLIS, MLS, etc.] but the degree is really the same) or a specialized graduate degree. But you might be able to start working without one.

I have been to a number of archives, they are clean and cold. Great place to wear a three-piece wool suit.
posted by fifilaru at 3:19 PM on July 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

The further you get from the U.S. East coast, the more likely that you will find a white-collar job that doesn't require you to dress up. Here in the midwest, you could probably get by with a polo shirt and khakis unless you're a lawyer or a stock analyst or something similar. Out in California, you could probably find yourself a job at a software company where closed-toe shoes would be considered too dressy.

Also, I'll admit that I'm frequently chillier than the men around me, but I have worked in lots of offices and they were all FREEZING. Wherever you are that is 80 degrees and humid needs to spring for a new A/C unit, because that is not normal. (Heck, if I was moving to DC I'd ask for a reference; I've often wished (hoped, prayed, begged, pleaded) that I could find an office that would keep things above 70 degrees.)
posted by vytae at 3:20 PM on July 13, 2010

Working in a computer room will put you in this environment. There are still computer operators, but I don't know if it's a good new career for a young guy.
posted by fritley at 3:29 PM on July 13, 2010

I would say anything in a server room would fit your criteria. That doesn't necessarily mean server technician, either. My husband works in a NOC in a room off of the server room that is absolutely frigid all year round.
posted by bristolcat at 3:29 PM on July 13, 2010

Something in a data centre? They're usually pretty fussy about temperature.
posted by alby at 3:33 PM on July 13, 2010

Data centers are very cold, but also very OSHA protected and you will typically work from afar in a cube farm. FWIW, my cubefarm is pretty cold; many of the women working here have space heaters under their desk to compensate.
posted by pwnguin at 3:40 PM on July 13, 2010

I think you might do well to look for two properties aside from the career title:

1) Cool climate, so that a cooler temperature setting would use less energy and be less expensive to maintain;

2) Most critically: coworkers who all share your affection for cooler climate. Maybe a company specializing in fashion for larger figures, or something football related, would attract workers with naturally better-insulated physiques. Otherwise, even if the thermostat is kept lower, the tiny skinny people will always be miserable -- you could be cool and surrounded by happy people, too.
posted by amtho at 3:41 PM on July 13, 2010

Best answer: Work in Antarctica.
posted by Wordwoman at 3:42 PM on July 13, 2010

Response by poster: excellent suggestions folks! to clarify, i have been in several office environments where the temperature is set "by whim of who is in charge." this is what i'm trying to avoid - freedom of temperature tyranny is what i seek. so, occupations that by definition *require* a stated temperature in the sub-awful region.

sadly, most archives i've been in (even national ones) have been too cheap to actually cool the stacks below ambient temps.
posted by garfy3 at 3:46 PM on July 13, 2010

Best answer: My sister the biochemist works in vaccine development, and the lab she works in is maintained at standard conditions (if I recall, 20C/68F in addition to regulated air quality and humidity). She spends 8-10 hours a day in her lab, and can wear the same sort of T-shirt/slacks under her lab coat all year.

Unfortunately this does not meet your 'office environment' criteria, but I wanted to throw that out there.
posted by ceribus peribus at 4:03 PM on July 13, 2010

For a TV studio you wouldn't be wearing a suit, anyway, so your whole question is moot in that regard. And I believe they are kept cold because the lights are hot, so if you're actually on the sound stage doing real work, you probably won't feel cold/cool/whatever you're going for. They also aren't kept much cooler than most offices I've been in, anyway. It's not like you're wearing a coat in there or anything. Besides which, on days where you shoot on location or outdoors, the temperature would be a total crapshoot, from 30 degree wet/nasty winter days to 100 degree humid sunburn fests. Most people I know who work on set regularly have skin damage from being outside all the time.

If you are not exaggerating and your office really is 80 degrees indoors all the time, maybe you should look for a different company, or to transfer to a different location or a department on another floor? That's very unusual, in my experience.
posted by Sara C. at 4:16 PM on July 13, 2010

If you are seeking true freedom from temperature tyrrany, what about telecommuting?
posted by Sara C. at 4:18 PM on July 13, 2010

Could you find an office building that has universal temperature settings to your specifications, and then apply to all of the tenant companies?

My former company is located in a large downtown office building with remote temperature control. In the summer, sweaters and wraps were necessary for the ladies, and in winter you definitely needed a sweater or at least long sleeves.
posted by charmcityblues at 4:19 PM on July 13, 2010

Working in a computer or technical (chemical/biological) lab would get you what you desire temperature-wise. Most labs have a rigid temperature control system set to 70F or below.

there are a wide range of jobs that will put you working in one for at least half your time at work. Mine was software QA on a large distributed system. It may be harder to find computer lab work as VM's and remote desktop become more and more prevalent.

The bio lab angle is one that I understand to require at least a BA in the related field, but perhaps there are exceptions to be found.
posted by Four Flavors at 4:43 PM on July 13, 2010

TV and film sets on stages are only cool until the lights turn on, and then they're stinking hot. TV and film sets outdoors in the winter are often miserably cold, and in the summer are usually miserably hot. I worked in production for many years, and my husband still does, and I would classify this as one of the least-physically-comfortable of all jobs. Yes, it is better than digging ditches, but on some days not by much.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:49 PM on July 13, 2010

Best answer: The library/archives/museum setting I work in is usually about 68 to 70 degrees (occasionally 65) and the closest I have ever seen anybody get to a suit is the deputy director wearing a blazer and tie.
posted by Foam Pants at 5:36 PM on July 13, 2010

Somewhat counter-intuitively, consider Tucson or Phoenix. Precisely because of the hot weather, almost every single commercial or public building has extremely powerful air-conditioning, and usually set much cooler than most people would consider comfortable. Certainly below "room temperature" of 68 degrees.
posted by holterbarbour at 6:24 PM on July 13, 2010

I've been working as a software engineer for a few years now and our offices are always pretty cold. Computers go wonky when they get hot, so this makes sense.
posted by little light-giver at 6:25 PM on July 13, 2010

Make sure the office is in a basement or first floor. Those are generally known to be AC-heavy and chilly anywhere, but I've heard the people in the floors above me get hotter and hotter with each level.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:32 PM on July 13, 2010

You just need a job that gives you an office with a door that closes, and a thermostat on the wall for you to adjust. Done.
posted by exphysicist345 at 8:35 PM on July 13, 2010

Hospitals and other such healthcare facilities are generally kept cooler than other enterprises.
posted by davidmsc at 8:53 AM on July 14, 2010

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