The UK recently recorded its hottest day on record ever. On July 19th 2022, the temperature in Lincolnshire rose to a blistering 40.3C. With this summer set for more heatwaves, you may be thinking of ways to keep cool in the heat. Of course, if your office has air conditioning, you should be comfortable enough. However, the warmer weather can be problematic for those workplaces without air con and for those who work from home. It can be especially difficult for pregnant women, older staff members or those on certain medications.
Here are our top three tips to stay cool so you can keep productivity up in the office as the mercury rises.
Keep the blinds or curtains closed and shut the windows. Although it seems counterintuitive to shut windows in hot weather, if the temperature is hotter outside than in, it’s the best thing to do. If it’s cooler outside, of course, open the windows so you can get a breeze going through the office. At night it will undoubtedly be cooler so if it’s safe to do so, you can open the windows in the evening. However, you need to consider security when doing so, whether that’s in your office or at home.
NHS advice for dealing with a heatwave notes that it’s especially important to keep rooms that are facing the sun as shaded as possible. If it’s really sunny outside, keeping the blinds or curtains closed will prevent the sun from warming up your office and turning it into a greenhouse or worse, feeling like a sauna!
Also, remember it’s the hottest between 11 am and 3 pm, so you might be wise to skip a lunchtime walk during a heatwave. If you do have to head out in the heat wear light, loose-fitting clothes, sunglasses, use sunscreen and take a bottle of water with you – also try to stick to the shade.
Staying hydrated is very important, so drink plenty of fluids. In general, people should be aiming to drink between 1.2 and 2 litres of water daily so, in a heatwave, this should actually be increased. Don’t forget that other drinks like coffee, tea and soft drinks count towards this intake. If you’re not a fan of plain tap water, you could choose sparkling water if your office provides this. If you’re a facilities or office manager, consider this as an alternative and install an undercounter water tap.
You can also liven up your water by raiding the office fruit bowl. Simply add slices of orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime or add more flavour with cucumber, ginger or mint. Plenty of fruits and vegetables have remarkably high water content. Cucumber contains 97% water for example and on average our food will contribute about 20% of our overall fluid intake.
Finally, skip your evening glass of wine or beer as alcohol is a diuretic. This means you may lose more fluid than you take in and become dehydrated unless you replace that lost fluid by drinking even more water.
If you’re in an office with no central air conditioning system, you could consider picking up a portable air con unit. They start at around £300. You’ll just need an open window that it can be positioned by so you can put the vent out. If that’s out of your budget, office fans will work as long as the indoor temperature is below 27°C. At that point, they are ineffective at cooling the air and just push the hot air around.
With two fans, you can create a cross breeze and move cool air into the office and hot air out simultaneously. You’ll just need two fans and two windows that open. Simply position one fan at an open window so that it’s blowing into the room.
Another tip is to put a bowl of water with ice in front of the fan. Although not as effective, this trick mimics the effect of air conditioning. The air from the fan will be cooled as it passes over the ice, which in turn, lowers the room’s temperature better than a standalone fan would.
Finally, whilst there are no legal limits on workplace temperatures in the UK, the 1999 Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations highlight temperature as a potential hazard for employees. So, if you’re office is without air-con, and uncomfortably hot, it’s a good idea to be flexible with your team. If they’re more comfortable working from home, then not only will they be happier, but they’ll also be more productive. Similarly, if people have a long commute via public transport, a flexible approach would be welcomed.
At FreshGround we offer a wide range of water dispenser solutions for offices, so if you have any queries about workplace hydration or to book a free consultation, simply contact our team.