Managing a Heatwave in the Office
We have all been there, sweating it out in a ridiculously hot office without air conditioning, whilst dreaming of being poolside with a cool drunk in your hand. It is not fun and nor is managing a team of over-heated employees, but when there is work to be done and it is business as usual, what can you do? Well, as an employer, there are actually a few things that you may wish to do to make everyone’s lives a little easier in a heatwave and perhaps limit the inevitable moaning and grumbling about the heat and the lack of available fans in the office.
I’ve spent many a summer stuck in a boiling hot office with windows that hardly opened and a room that would reach 30 degrees on a regular basis. It was painful (and sweaty!) and the following tips definitely made it a bit more bearable:
1. Relax the dress code – This one is obviously dependent on whether your employees are customer facing and obviously tricky if you have a uniform, but where possible and on extremely hot days, try and relax your dress code a little. Hot and unhappy employees are unlikely to perform well, so why not make everyone a little more comfortable. In countries with a hotter climate, you are likely to see office workers in slightly less formal business wear, smart but comfortable. Give it a go; I am sure your team will thank you for it.
2. Consider a water cooler – it is so important to keep hydrated in the warmer months and drinking water will definitely help you keep your concentration levels high. As an employer you have a duty of care to each employee and actively encouraging your team to keep drinking water will benefit everyone.
3. Allow for additional breaks – The heat tires you and can affect your ability to concentrate. To get the best performance out of your team give them an opportunity for a few quick breaks if necessary to help them cool down. You’ll likely find that if you offer an optional break. It is unlikely to be abused and will mean more work is down in the long-term.
4. Get into the spirit of things – I once had a boss that would head down to the shops on a really hot day and bring back a selection of cold drinks and ice creams. It really perked everyone up and increased the level of motivation.
5. Stock up on the fans! – If air conditioning really isn’t an option then make sure you have a large supply of portable fans that you can distribute. Keep the air moving can make a big difference when it is really hot in an office.
Remember, everyone is going to be feeling the heat and if you want to minimise the impact on productivity, you’ve got to keep everyone engaged and happy. Being too hot is never easy, so it’s a case of making the most out of the situation and maintaining motivation.
Happy heatwave everyone!