Keep employees cool during a heatwave

How to prevent loss of productivity during a heatwave

Brett Downes Blog

A heatwave, with its bright skies and soaring temperatures, is great news – if you’re able to take the day off work to stroll along the beach or spend the day sunbathing in the local park. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as welcome when you’re working in a warm and busy office, with extreme temperatures making you feel uncomfortable and causing a serious distraction. This means that as an employer, you’ll want to know how to keep your employees cool to prevent a loss of productivity during a heatwave.

However, it isn’t just reduced productivity that you need to be worried about during a heatwave. Due to many people being unprepared for its warmer temperatures, they can end up with dehydration or heatstroke. Both of these conditions can make you feel unwell, and they can be fatal if left untreated.

Although the temperatures have cooled, the UK’s recent bout of heatwaves are rumoured to return, and they may even stick around until October! With that in mind, it pays to be prepared. Here are our top tips for preventing a loss of productivity during a heatwave…

Keep the office cool

In Britain (where we’re not used to humid conditions), the majority of us aren’t blessed to work in an office with a built-in air conditioning system. Fortunately, you can cool the room down by opening as many windows as possible, as well as investing in a number of portable air con units or desk fans. The latter is a particularly good option as they’re more cost effective. Additionally, unlike a bulkier air con unit, they can be easily moved around the office to where they’re needed most, i.e. hottest employees!

Supply cold water and snacks

“To ward off dehydration, encourage your employees to drink as much water as possible.” – Todd, Todich Floral Design

The easiest way to do this? By providing a supply of cold water for them to easily help themselves to. This can be from a plumped-in watercooler, although a fridge stocked with bottled water is a good alternative if you don’t have one onsite. Filling the freezer with ice creams, or (if your building doesn’t have one), doing a daily run to the shop to grab some can also be a great morale and productivity booster when temperatures are soaring.

Keep staff hydrated during a heatwave

Switch up the office dress code

Your business might have a certain image (and therefore dress code) that your staff need to adhere to but working in a warm office in a full suit isn’t the most comfortable. Luckily, your employees can still look smart and presentable with a few tweaks to their regular dress code. For example, give them the option to swap crisp long-sleeved shirts for lightweight and breathable linen shirts, as well as polo shirts and plan t-shirts. Each of these options can be teamed with a blazer for meetings. You could also allow them to wear appropriate length shorts if they’re not required to attend meetings.

Provide additional rest breaks

In the UK, employees are entitled to one uninterrupted 20-minute rest break when they work for over 6 hours. However, during a heatwave, it’s even more vital to ensure that your staff leave the office to get some cool, fresh air. One way to achieve this is by moving meetings outside wherever possible. Alternatively, give employees an extended lunch, or even an additional 10 or 15-minute break in the afternoon. Remember to be aware that temperatures are typically highest between 12pm – 3pm, as a little bit of employee care can go a long way. Happy employees are more productive employees, after all.

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