to want to sit at work with the blinds open and no heater on?(90 Posts)
I share an office with a colleague who has a disability. I am not sure what it is and she has never disclosed the nature of it, just that she has one.
The weather is absolutely gorgeous at the moment. The minute she gets in, she closes all the blinds, claims it is freezing and has the heater on all day. She puts the lights on because she has closed the blinds. I am fed up of sitting all day in the dark roasting because of the heater.
I have dropped several hints that she should wear more layers but she prefers to sit in a thin dress with the heater blaring on.
I have spoken to my line manager and he says he cannot do anything about the situation because of her disability. There is no other room for me or her to move to.
I just want some sun and fresh air
I wouldn't drop any more hints.
I'd speak to her and let her know I'm too hot and I can't work like that. Then tell her we'll need to compromise, starting with her wearing warmer clothes.
I don't think you're unreasonable, if it's anything like here it's bloody boiling I could NOT sit in an office in this heat.
They have to accommodate her disability but it shouldn't have to have an affect on anyone else. She could wear more layers, or perhaps she'd like a little personal heater? The light thing can't be helped really though
Can't you tell her you are too hot and just open the blinds?
I'm not sure what her disability has to do with it? And if it does, then surely she can explain that to you when you discuss opening the blinds and turning off heating.
I wouldn't be happy with those working conditions tbh. There has to be a compromise somewhere.
The woman may not be able to have bright sunlight shone in her eyes so the blinds may have to stay closed.
The temperature can be resolved though.
YANBU. Why should you be forced to work in artificial light and in over-heated conditions to accomodate another's disability! I have a disability and feel the cold more than most but I wear layers and dress accordingly outside of my home. As to the light thing, well I would be insisting on my need for natural light as much as possible. It is a ridiculous situation and if your employer cannot provide for her special needs without imposing on your comfort then they need to rethink.
Loads of people are 'forced' to work in artificial light. I don't think that's a major issue here. The heat is.
Can't you tell her you are too hot and just open the blinds?
I have opened the blinds, she says her eyes are too sensitive. She needs special glasses but they are too expensive so for her the answer seems to be that I have to sit in the dark all day as well
I have told her I am too hot but she says "what I can do, I feel so cold". I tell her to wear more layers, she says she forgot. What everyday?
Yanbu, why should your working conditions be placed second to hers. If it's the temperature she could layer up, if she's facing outside and the light affects her then she should move.
If she needs glasses because of a disability she should be entitled to them for free or at a very discounted rate.
I'd approach your manager again. They have to provide a reasonable working environment for everyone not just this lady. If she needs these special glasses could work contribute to the cost? But wouldn't they be available on prescription (I'm not sure how these things work tbh)?
Your manager also needs to talk to your colleague - it's not on that she 'forgets' every day to bring warmer clothes.
I'd approach your manager again
I have mentioned it a few times but he just says he does not know the nature of her disability either because she does not have to disclose it so he is concerned that it might be discriminatory against her in some way if he says anything to her about the heater or blinds
I think you should see what temp the office is getting up to, ask for a DSE and state the dark hot conditions and buy her a jumper as a present to be kept in the office.
I'd open the blinds and windows and say you are feeling faint.
Dare I say that she sounds mad as a box of frogs and I'd bet that this "disability" is a bit nebulous?
buy her a jumper as a present to be kept in the office
Would she wear it though??????????
I Think your manager needs to have an honest discussion with your colleague about what adjustments she needs in the work place. Perhaps an Occ health assessment to make sure she is getting the support she needs. The natural light thing is annoying but I don't think there is much you can do about that as plenty of people work under artificial light. With regard to the temperature I would tell your boss you are feeling faint because it is so hot and stuffy. It just sounds like your boss is tiptoeing around your colleague, misguidedly think he will offend her if he has a frank and confidential discussion about her needs.
Open the window and if she says anything tell her it's tough she can take it up with hr. She sounds ridiculous.
Open the window and if she says anything tell her it's tough she can take it up with hr. She sounds ridiculous
Thank you, this is what I was thinking but thought I may have been unfair because of her disability
Agree with a proper Occ Health assessment for colleague. If she's claiming she needs reasonable adjustments for her disability, it's not unreasonable for the employer to ask her for more details.
Surely if she has a disability and needs special glasses she can get these on the NHS?
If she's working on a screen, she she can approach HR and ask for help to get the equipment she needs.
I know someone who gets his wheelchair paid for by work, and he's assembly line.
Ask her to compromise. You have it the way you like it one day, her way the next.
wanting to sit in thin clothes with heating on is wasteful and entitled behaviour, and disability is no excuse that I can see.
when the electricity runs out in 6 years, what will she do then?
If she hasn't disclosed her disability how on earth can reasonable adjustments be made?! Surely that has to be a collaborative approach with hr/your manager and the employee. If she doesn't disclose it then surely no adjustments have to be made...?
I'm loath to say this because every effort should be made to include people and make it possible for them to work but iIt's starting to sound like it's about her preferences rather than her needs.
I think people are being a bit overoptimistic about what's available on the NHS, though, especially post-cuts.
I don't know anything about the thresholds for dark glasses, but a lot of stuff just isn't available for mild-moderate sufferers.
That's what I wondered PartialFancy which is why i asked if the company would contribute. The place i work for has paid out on several occasions to get people the kit they need in order to do their job in comfort. I realise not all places would though.
I just asked her what her DH is like and she says he doesn't like it warm. So she turns the heating off for him but at work has it blaring it on for me
partial I can get free reaction lenses because my eye was damaged when I was 15 (someone lamped me with a brick) and now it lets too much light in - thats why I thought the woman would be able to get them free or cheap
I think if she's not willing to explain her 'needs' to you then you don't need to compromise for her - can your office furniture be rearranged so she has her back to the window (away from the light) and so that you 're next to window for light and fresh air. Tell her to suck it, sunshine and fresh air are good for ones health . Or you could bring a huge oscilating fan in and point it at you but so it hits her too ha ha revenge could be sweet
I think if she's not willing to explain her 'needs' to you then you don't need to compromise for her
She doesn't have to explain her needs to anyone except her boss who is the one who will need to put things in place for her. She doesn't have to disclose details of her disability to all and sundry
Max, she doesn't need to explain her needs to the OP. But she does need to explain them to HR/Occ Health/mgmt of some kind.
Either your employers are daft, or someone within the organisation must know the nature of her disability. No-one can swan into an office and claim all sorts of adjustments for their disability without producing some sort of information and evidence. If your employers haven't requested the information, they don't understand what their legal duty is. Apart from anything else, if they don't have the details, there is a risk that they might actually not make the right adjustments. I am wondering, for instance, if the reality is that she can't wear jumpers because of sensory sensitivity and for some reason isn't saying so. It is certainly wrong for them to say you are the person who must make the adjustments and no-one else.
I think they need to have a meeting with your colleague ASAP to make sure they fully understand what her needs are and to discuss how they can accommodate them without making life intolerable for other employees. Otherwise, if your manager is really desperate to avoid sorting this out, perhaps he should be the one to share an office with her?
I didn't mean explain her disability, of course that's her business but she should atleast explain why she needs the heating on so high other than she's cold, if she's just cold that's not a disability that's a lack of clothing, if however she needs the heating on to prevent pain caused by her disability then that's different and would need to be accomodated - she could ecplsin that much surely? And if she's not prepared to let people know why she needs them to sweat to death then why should they accomodate her?
No, Max, she doesn't need to explain anything like that to her colleagues.
She does, however, have to do as Nennypops says and discuss it with her employer.
Absolutely agree that employer needs to get themselves up to speed on the Equality Act. They're going to get caught both ways, bending over backwards unnecessarily in one direction while failing to meet their legal obligations in some other direction or to someone else.
Well if she wont explain why to her colleague or her employer i'd be inclined to ignore her requests for the heating on, window shut and blind closed until someone could give me a reason otherwise and a reason as to why her being cold is more important than me being hot - I'd be more sympathetic if there was a valid reason, even if the employer could say 'there is a valid reason which I can't disclose but the heating must stay on' then fair enough but for noone in the company to know the reason is stupid and the op shouldn't have to suffer.
see your manager about getting you or her moved. manager has a responsibility to you too
Could you have a chat with your manager again but this time at the end tell him that you'll email to confirm what was discussed and copy in HR? That might get his arse into gear.
Where are you all that your weather is so hot?!
I have my heating on, and am wrapped up in top, cardigan and thick winter dressing gown, and I'm still freezing.
Agree that a compromise must be reached here, but I'd hate to work somewhere if I was cold.
Most of the UK is sunny and warm today, I think? Where are you, gytha, that sounds a bit extreme?
OP, you need to have a word with HR.
This is the joy and pain of working in offices OP
I don't think you'll win because your line manager seems afraid to confront someone who has an unspecified disability. My experience of HR is 'fucking useless, tending towards the more fucking useless. Outlook: fucking useless.'
I have to admit that in one office I worked in I was a venetian blind tyrant.
We sat in school room style; one behind the other. I used to sit directly facing a window. That was nice because I got light; people behind me existed in degrees of Stygian gloom. There was no way I was going to give it up.
At certain times of the year and times of the day I'd close the blinds because of heat and blinding light.
The person directly behind me campaigned to swap desks saying he needed the light. I know he craved my desk because it was more prestigious.
I resisted successfully. However, I did put a cardi on when it was cold, so I don't think I was that bad.
I'm in Aberdeen Patricia
It is sunny, but I don't think its warm at all, I still have my electric blanket on full blast at night!
I don't think you'll win because your line manager seems afraid to confront someone who has an unspecified disability
I think he is afraid. I do wonder what the disability is. She seems to have loads of time off work for endless hospital appointments, gets to work flexibly when the rest of us are not allowed. I did ask the line manager, he admitted he didn't know what the disability is.
She has time off to sit on the disability support group so really knows her rights
maxsmummy we don't know whether or not the woman has told her bosses what she has, I'm thinking she defo has. Just because she hasn't told the OP (which she is perfectly within her rights to do) doesn't mean the employers don't know.
People with disabilities shouldn't have to tell everyone about their condition
If special measures need to be taken at work, then something about the disability DOES need to be disclosed, I'm afraid.
Sitting in the dark will damage your eyes too!!!!!
I've been sitting under a blanket all day. The whole of the UK never has the same temperatures, you know.
^xIf special measures need to be taken at work, then something about the disability DOES need to be disclosed, I'm afraid.
Sitting in the dark will damage your eyes too!!!!!^
Only to occy health and the boss. No other employee needs to know. And the OP shouldn't be asking the line manager what the woman's disability is because he isn't allowed to disclose it.
And they're not sat in the dark, they have the lights on.
Stop dropping hints, start asking if she minds you letting some light in and turning the heat off as you find the room very uncomfortable.
Nursery the op says I did ask the line manager, he admitted he didn't know what the disability is. and if you look back at my posts I specifically said I didn't mean explain her disability, of course that's her business
Stop dropping hints, start asking if she minds you letting some light in and turning the heat off as you find the room very uncomfortable
I have asked her directly, she said no to the opening the blinds because her eyes hurt and no to the heater turned off because she said she feels cold
The employer has to make reasonable adjustments. That does not include forcing workmates to tolerate unreasonable working conditions.
The line manager really has to grasp the nettle and talk to HR about what the disability is and/or what they can reasonably do to accommodate your colleague without prejudicing you. If there is no reason why she can't wear more clothes to keep warm, then the plain fact is that putting the heating up is not a reasonable adjustment and she needs to bear the consequences of failing to do so just like everyone else. Equally I can't really see any reason why she can't get the glasses, if necessary with your employers' help. Presumably she copes with the sun if she goes out of doors?
And, like I say, if the line manager doesn't want to do that, I suggest you ask to share with or do a swap with him.
Stop asking then, tell her that you can't and won't be expected to suffer in the sodding dark, and that if she was doing HER best to fit in with the natural working environment by making sure that she has done everything she can do to improve her situation, then there'd be more understanding, but you are cold, and in the dark, and it's not acceptable to you.
We have a colleague who, bless her, is always cold. She brings a microwavable wheatbag and wears a cardy.
This woman could get equipment for her disability if she spoke to her management.
She might have spoken with Occ Health, and they might have told her that the way to alleviate any issues is to pull the blinds and use a heater
Can you ask to move?
Sorry I did that really annoying thing of not reading the OP properly, you can't move
She needs a jumper and sunglasses.
Being disabled doesn't mean you can make everyone suffers!
There must be some way if accommodating all of you.
Expecting you all to roast in the dark takes the piss tbh.
Tell her you have a vitamin D deficiency and open the blind and window.
In all seriousness surely of you work with computers the company pays for an eye test and puts money towards glasses? She would be entitled to that surely?
If she was honest with the manager at least then surely he could help manage the situation so everyone's happy?
I was locked in overhead light conflict for ages. Other person wanted them off, I wanted them on. Unfortunately there's no compromise!
Can you pick one? Either open the blinds or turn the heating down?
The company I work for does provide a free eye test and she has special VDU glasses. The company won't pay for this eye sensitivity she has so that means sitting in the dark apparently. She doesn't have the money to pay for glasses but can go to Florida next week with her DH and DC
Hissy I don't think I should be expected to suffer in the sodding dark, you are right. If she didn't have a disability, I don't think I would be expected to
I think if she put enough clothes on, we wouldn't need the heater on. But she turns up to work with a thin dress or top on and moans all day it is freezing. I can't think what the compromise is for the blinds, she is in physical pain if they are open but then she should buy the bloody glasses instead of spending the money on Florida
The manager is not willing to swap because he has a lot of meetings in his office that are confidential so wouldn't work if he had to share
Surely your office cant be the only place that she is in sunlight. If it has such a significant impact on her she would need the glasses for general use??
The employer making reasonable adjustment should not mean that you are uncomfortable.
Do you have a thermometer to take the temperature in the office?
Can you wear less clothes?
If she is not going to work with you to make it comfortable for all you are going to have to force your manager/HR to address the issue in a more formal way.
Bear in mind that it isn't just the organisation that can be accused of discrimination; individuals can be too do. I would tread carefully. Take it up with HR formally, not with her as it is their place to make you comfortable at work, not hers.
I work with someone who is well known for sitting in skimpy tops and then turning all the heaters up as she is so terribly cold. A previous colleague of hers once went to a charity shop and bought some hideous huge cardigan and presented it to her. It hung in the office and when ever she complained about being cold someone would point at the hideous cardigan.
Apparently the cardigan never got worn but complaints about coldness did decrease significantly
Have you put in a grievance about this?
I haven't put in a grievance. I have spoken to her directly and asked her politely about the blinds and heater. I have spoken to my line manager who is not willing to do anything. If I go direct to HR, then it will reflect badly on my line manager and make it difficult for me to continue working there. I feel stuck.
I can't wear any less clothes without being indecent! I wear thin clothes myself because she has the blasted heater on so much
When I worked I was helped through something called Access to work. They did a full assessment and provided an electrical desk, chair and trolley for moving files. Firm paid but then claimed it all back through the scheme.
She has a special chair that the company paid for that cost £1500. She has a special keyboard, mouse and foot rest, not her £500
That is fine, just wish they would pay for a dark room to be kitted out for her then she can cook herself silly in the dark away from me
Isn't it quite bright in Florida??
We have someone similar in our office, think manager is also scared of her. We have regular moves and she just gets passed on to annoy someone else for a while. Not had my turn yet and am lost as to why no one has cut the plug off her heater yet and told her to dress appropriately?! Guess I'll probably find out when my turn comes
Do like the charity shop hideous cardie idea though.
Isn't being in the dark a major health and safety risk? Trip up a few times and you might find the blinds open again.
Tell your line manager if nothing is done about your working conditions you will take it further.
Can't they put either of you in a different office?
Though, I'm feeling this is getting slightly more unbelievable with reference to a holiday in Florida
I think you'll need to go to your line manager and put to him the points that have been made on this thread, i.e.:
1. Colleague almost certainly can get special glasses cheaply if she needs them for her disability. He needs to get HR to check for her.
2. Her disability does not mean that she can demand that the heating be put on because she can't be bothered to bring in a cardigan or jumper. He needs to double-check with HR that there is no reason why she can't wear jumpers, vests etc and, if there isn't any reason, he needs to tell her that she has to meet you half way and put on warmer clothes. She would not be able to complain legitimately about this.
And I think you need to tell him that if he isn't prepared to sort this out you will have no choice but to go to HR yourself.
My eyes are sensitive, I wear sunglasses when they are bothering me, I have some that fit right over my regular glasses.
What if you were suffering from S.A.D.? (seasonal affective disorder) and needed that sunlight to help you fight depression? I don't think she is trying very hard to be thoughtful to those around her.
Open the blinds, lower the heating, and if she closes them and turns it up, open them again and lower it again. TNS. Your employer only has to make "reasonable" adjustments for her and has to have regard for your health, which is not promoted by sitting in the dark and in an over-heated room. Good luck.
Hi op. I have a condition that has affected the back of my eye, so that normal light levels seem like blazing sunshine.
I have glasses to deal with this. They were massively discounted. Cost me no more than normal single vision lenses.
Take the blinds down and cut the plug off the heater while she is in Florida
You are going to have to go to HR about this though.
If her requirements mean she can't effectively share an office, your employer might have to put her on her own somewhere. I needed to use voice recognition software for a while, which worked better if I wasn't sharing. My employers huffed and puffed but found me a solo office in the end. It was in a different building though! Also I had an occcupational health letter which stated my requirement to use VR. Does she have an occupational health assessmenta. Can you encourage your line manager to get her one?
Do you have "near miss" forms at your work? Like accident reports but where an accident only nearly happened?
Keep filling them in saying you feel faint because of the temperature.
Can you go to lost property or the charity shop and bring a job lot of cardigans, jumpers and wraps into the office so when she forgets to dress suitably in a morning she can still put something on once she gets to the office?
And I believe they have sunshine in Florida, so whatever she's planning to do about the light out there should surely work here as well. Unless she's planning to make Florida pull all it's blinds down and turn it's lights on all day?
She is entitled to have her work space reviewed and adjusted so that it is suitable for her disability.
I can't see that this will involve needing the blinds closed and the heating on, but it might mean that she gets to move her desk away from the windows if possible.
Can that be done anyway? Can she move to the back of the office and you to the front or whatever, so you are by the windows and she is not?
Or can you open the blinds at your side but she have her back to the light?
Can you have an office screen installed, so that she has a partition between her and the windows? They can be very effective for blocking light and drafts.
Or can you say that you will open the blinds in the morning but close them later in the day (or vice versa) so they are open when the full sun is not on your office window but you still get part of the day with daylight on you?
And get a fan for your desk so you have something to combat the heat? Ask your boss to pay for this fan, so he can then see the pointlessness of running a heating system and a cooling system simultaneously in the same office.
And while you are at it, ask for those lightbulbs to be fitted, the ones that are meant to be like daylight, so he can also see the pointlessness of sitting in the dark under artificial lights when you could just have a bit of daylight now and again.
They haven't paid out that much without knowing what's wrong, that doesn't mean you have a right to know what it is. They have as much responsibility for your working conditions as hers.
As I said before you need to do a dse and should also look her at upper temps for work. Basically tgey have made provision for Her complaining it's cold but not for you complaining it hot.
You need to raise this formally with your manage, it's not about her, you are raising concern over your working conditions it's up to them to resolve it.
Ask your manager again, verbally. Nicely. Log Time, date and what you say and his response again. Specifically say as previously several times verbally if am not happy because of x y z situation. Be specific which changes you need to talk about (talk as there may not be much compromise but a few degrees)
Give it a couple of weeks. Then email him saying you had x conversation and nothing happened. You wish to raise it with him to the person responsible for occupational health. There will be one, it comes via health and safety. I mean it as it's illegal to operate without cooperating with H&S regulations. Note his response.
Couple of weeks later, chase.
You will have to be a bit 'dog with a bone' but he needs to see this is serious not a whine.
In offices few things are more controversial than temp!
I work in a medium size office. In my group there would be 6 people and I think that I am the only normal one. This pisses me off every year. There are two women and they start moaning about how it is absolutely freezing from about September and this continues right away through the year until about spring. So we have storage heaters which sit under your desk which are to be used if it is really cold ie December or January. So the two of them literally sit on top of these heaters from about September. One of them even brings in a blanket to put round her legs like a pensioner!!
On the other hand one man and one woman always feel the heat. He would be sitting with his fan on while the other two would be sitting on top of their radiators. The woman wants to have the window open and then the other two complain about getting a draught.
Sometimes I think that I am the only normal one who works in the office. There is no air conditioning in the office so open the window in the summer and use fans and it has central heating in the winter. Also I know to dress sensibly layers in the winter so you can add or take away and less in the summer. I am very easy going so don't get involved in the too hot, too cold dispute but doesn't mean that it doesn't piss me off. It's the same every year so you are not on your own with infuriating colleagues.
As love says it's about you. Don't say anything like 'because of her'. Just I am hot. It affects my work. I want this looked at.
Can you bypass the line manager and either go to HR or the manager above your manager?
I'm all for people with disabilities being able to work but to have such specific needs seems unreasonable.
And she better get her very dark glasses out for Florida.
You need to say to your line manager that uses things change e.g. You are moved (or she is) then you will be taking things further.
I'd then speak to HR and log it and then potentially take out a grievance depending on how it goes with HR. There must be somewhere in the building for one of you to move to, even if it's on a different floor.
I think you need to push your manager to review the office environment with the person who did her assessment - and she's clearly had one if they've spent that much money on her. Then your manager can have support to approach her.
If she feels the cold and it affects her health it's definitely not UR to expect her to utilise ways of warming up (jumper, slanket, wheat packs etc.) that don't impact everyone else.
I'm not sure how you'll fare with the blinds though, I'm presuming the lights in the office are on (if not that's unacceptable and h&s, you need adequate light), but you can get other types of blinds that will minimise glare while letting the light through.
Be generous and try to remember that these things might actually cause her genuine discomfort, it doesn't mean she gets to dictate everyone else's environment though.
I agree with the strategy of reporting every time you feel the consequences - feeling faint from heat, eye strain/headaches if you are working in a dimly lit room.
Personally I find it really hard to breathe in stuffy rooms, I don't have any illnesses but couldn't bare having to work in air that's overheated and thick so you have my sympathies.
Thanks for all your advice and support everyone
I wll go to line manager one more time, and then if he doesn't do anything I will take it direct to HR
I will make sure I focus on the environment, that it is dark and too hot rather than saying it is her - thank you for that. I have been blaming her which is not the best approach
I will get a break next week because she will be in Florida!
It's the same every year so you are not on your own with infuriating colleagues
Thanks for that Albaba I have been getting so annoyed!
While she is away, you really DO need to kick over this hornet's nest.
Open the blinds, bin the bloody heater and call a meeting with your line manager and your HR and state that IF this woman has a condition that she can't bear light WTAF is she doing on holiday in bloody florida then?
Assuming she comes back with a tan ffs, she has no issue with light then.
... but yes, focussing on the office environment and how it affects the rest of the team is probably the best way forward...
Albaba I am the same, for all you know they have poor circulation, or Raynaud's, which means they're cold.
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