5 tips to help your staff during a heatwave
11 July 2022
“It’s too hot to work”
Between 18 and 24 July 2021, the search term, “when is it too hot to work” had a 100/100 popularity score, according to Google Trends. Throughout the rest of the year, the highest popularity score for the search term was 8/100.
Is it coincidence that there was a heatwave between 15-25 July 2021? Definitely not!
The answer to that particular query is that while there is no guidance for a maximum temperature limit, employers must stick to health and safety laws requiring them to keep the temperature at a comfortable level. It’s at the discretion of the organisation to decide what constitutes a comfortable level.
Here are some suggestions for how to keep your staff comfortable during the heatwave.
Keep the air in the office cool
According to Cambridge Brain Sciences, when the temperature hits 30 degrees Celsius, mental tasks become much harder to complete. So when the temperature goes up, we need to ensure that we have a cool workspace if we hope to stay productive.
I know this sounds obvious, but as I write this, I’m looking at a massive window with the blinds open and sunlight streaming in. So, a little reminder never hurts. Here are some ways to cool down the office.
- Turn on the aircon, if you have one, and consider where to set the temperature; it may be tempting to set the temperature as low as possible when you arrive, but you want your team to be comfortable. What’s considered comfortable will vary from team to team, and other criteria like how big your office windows are will also have an impact, but somewhere between 18-22 degrees is usually a good call. If the aircon is on, close your windows to keep that cool air in.
- Close the blinds to keep the sun out.
- Turn on a fan. Many retailers sell little desk fans that plug into your computers USB and are a great little gift to help your team stay cool.
Consider relaxing your dress code
If your organisation’s dress code dictates formal office wear, it may be worth relaxing the dress code to help your staff stay comfortable. You don’t have to go to the extreme of boardshorts, flipflops and minidresses, but a linen shirt will certainly be more comfortable than suit and tie. And if your meetings are mostly on teams, then no one will know the difference between smart chino shorts and a pair of tailored trousers.
Temporarily change working hours
It’s undoubtedly cooler in the morning, so why not offer your staff a temporary change in work hours to allow them more office time while it’s cooler? Starting work earlier means they will have more productive hours before the heat hits around 11. They’ll get more done and be super happy to spend the hottest part of the day in the pool with the kids!
Encourage your team to stay hydrated
The Centre for Disease Control says that if you’re thirsty, then you’re already behind in fluid replacement. It’s always important to stay hydrated, but it’s critical during a heatwave when dehydration can set in much quicker. When we’re busy, we may forget to drink water, so consider sending around some reminders and tips to stay hydrated:
- Drink water first thing in the morning. 8 hours is a long time without any water, but that’s exactly what happens at night while we’re getting that much needed sleep. It’s a good idea to start every day with a glass or 2 of water, but it’s even more important during a heatwave when our bodies lose more water through sweat.
- Hydrating before work makes it easier to stay hydrated throughout the day.
- Drinking water at shorter intervals is more effective than drinking large quantities infrequently. Consider having a glass or bottle of water on your desk to remind you to drink throughout the day.
- Struggling to drink 8 glasses of water in the day? You can also eat your water! Your meals usually contribute to about 20% of your daily water intake. Mayo Clinic says that many fruits and vegetables are comprised mainly of water, so how about a light watermelon, cucumber and feta salad for lunch instead of a sandwich to increase your water consumption?
- Other drinks such as tea, juice and milk are also great options for hydrating, just be sure to take it easy on the sugar.
Ice cream is a universal cure for the heat! Nothing turns a slouching, sweating grouch into a ray of sunshine quicker than an ice cream. But seriously, working in the heat is hard, and your team will really feel uplifted and appreciated for the cost of a box of Magnums.
Get in touch
We hope this article gave you a little break from the stress of running a business in a heatwave. At Quantum, we’re here to lighten your load by helping you to recruit the best senior and leadership talent for your business. Get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how we can help you build your team.