10 tips on how to beat the heat

As the temperature in the UK soars, and we experience heatwaves across the country, here are a few tips on how to best to ‘keep cool and carry on’ in the office …

  1. Ditch the dress code– If temperatures soar, then it’s a good time to turn a blind eye to staff wearing cooler, more informal attire like shorts, t-shirts and sandals- wherever possible. Relax those dress restrictions and allow staff to wear clothing that enables them to work comfortably- even if it means that they change in and out of a suit, for those unavoidable important meetings.
  2. Can the commute- There aren’t many places that are more unpleasant that a sweltering crowded tube station during rush hour, or inside a hot car in a long traffic jam. Offering staff more flexibility in terms of start and stop times will certainly enable them to stay a great deal cooler (and a lot less stressed). It will also provide them with the opportunity to start early and leave with some of the day left – so they can enjoy those rays before the end of the day.
  3. Hydrate! – On a hot day you should aim to consume around 2-3 litres of water, so remember to provide staff with ample supplies of cold water. Dehydration is not only bad for our health it also negatively impacts our levels of productivity. For example, just a 1% drop in hydration means that you become 12% less productive. A 3-4% drop leads to a huge decrease of 25-50%. Dehydration also has an impact on energy levels, so adding a few fridges around the office with cold drinks will ensure that staff remember to hydrate.
  4. Offer longer breaks – Why not offer staff the opportunity of taking a slightly longer break for lunch? High temperatures notoriously make people more lethargic, so allow for them to rejuvenate in the shade for that little bit longer, or to venture out for a refreshing ice cream or light-lunch. They will come back rested and feeling like they have enjoyed the weather, rather than only seeing it from an office window.
  5. Support staff– Some staff members may be more affected by the heat than others, so find out if there any members of your workforce that are pregnant, have a disability that temperature may impact, or if there are any workers that have a long term illness. Consider what can be done to support them, whether it’s providing desk fans or offering them the opportunity to work from home.
  6. Avoid the hotspots – Avoid working in those environments that are the hottest, such as rooms with glazed partitions where sunlight permeates, or meeting areas without windows. If there are meetings planned with large numbers of people, this will cause increased heat, so consider postponing those meetings until the temperature drops, or take them outdoors in a breezy place in the shade.
  7. Check your equipment- When the forecast suggests that there is about to be a heatwave, check the office over to make sure that blinds are in check and work properly, that air-con works efficiently, and if not, whether the windows can be opened if required.
  8. Unplug- Make sure any office equipment that is not being used is unplugged as electrical equipment that is plugged in, on stand-by or charging will give of additional heat.
  9. Provide light healthy foods- It is a fact that when your body processes large meals it immediately warms up. Because metabolic heat is required to break foods down, smaller portions of lighter foods will keep you cooler. Consider providing an array of fruits or a salad bar at break times to encourage lighter eating.
  10. Keep morale high- Often, we can become irritable in the heat, and staff can also feel that they would rather be elsewhere during times when the weather is unusually fine, impacting on the mood in the office. Try keeping morale high by considering an event such as a company BBQ at lunchtime, perhaps with a bar that serves ‘mocktails’ for the day. You could simply announce that as soon as the temperature reaches a certain level- everyone gets an ice cream! It’s surprising how far small treats go in raising morale…

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