It seems that the UK is experiencing more hot weather than ever during the summer months due to climate change. But once the temperature exceeds 25°C, productivity can suffer as staff become irritable, less motivated and find it hard to concentrate due to the effect of the heat.
Since not all workplaces in the UK have air-conditioning to deal with hot summer weather, it’s important that employers do what they can to keep employees feeling comfortable and performing at their best. Fortunately, there’s quite a lot employers can do to create a better work environment when hot weather strikes.
Relax the dress code
In the UK, while there is a law regarding the minimum temperature in which an employee can work, there is nothing about when it’s too hot to work – although employers are expected to maintain a reasonable temperature in the workplace. If your company operates a dress code, then it makes sense to make sure that policy isn’t enforced during hot weather. While swimming shorts and bikinis mightn’t be too practical in the office, shorts, short-sleeved tops and t-shirts can go some way to helping staff keep their cool, plus a relaxed dress code may boost morale.
Keep staff hydrated
During periods of hot weather, it’s important to keep staff hydrated. If your office doesn’t already have a water cooler, it might be wise to invest in one for the summer months. At the very least, you can encourage staff to bring in water bottles for use at their desks. One other idea is for staff to freeze water bottles overnight so they remain cold all day long.
Schedule meetings in the cool of the day
No one enjoys a hot sticky meeting in the middle of the afternoon. Try to schedule tasks like these early in the morning before the day becomes too warm. Alternatively, arrange staff meetings out-of-the-office in an air-conditioned location.
Commuting in 30 degrees plus is no fun for anyone. Where possible, allow flexible working during heatwaves. Staff will enjoy working at home and can use the time saved on the commute home to enjoy some time outdoors in the good weather. However, if flexible working isn’t the norm at your company, then you may need to implement some policies for performance management.
Short of keeping staff comfortable and productive, employers are legally obliged to keep the health, safety, and welfare of employees in the workplace. If staff become ill through heat exhaustion, heatstroke, or any other effect of hot weather, there could be legal implications for the business, so it’s a good idea to issue guidelines to staff on what to look out for. They will then be able to spot the signs if a colleague isn’t feeling well due to the heat.
Just as importantly, make sure staff know they can take extra breaks, if necessary, to cool down. Installing fans and window blinds to keep air moving and workplace temperatures down could be useful during the summer months. As well as happier workers, you may see the benefits in terms of productivity.
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