Going into work is tough on a normal day, but when it’s a particularly hot day it can make an average work day feel like slow torture. Not only do your employees find themselves looking longingly out the window at the tempting weather, but their focus is scattered because of the heat. Sometimes office workers will call in sick, not necessarily because they want to spend a cheeky day at the beach, but because they genuinely feel they can’t get any work done in a suffocating environment that might as well be a sauna. Even with the A/C turned all the way up, too many warm bodies in a room can make the work day hot and unpleasant. As the boss, you are responsible for the welfare of your employees, so you need to take certain measures to create the perfect office environment so everyone can go about their work as normal. Here are a few tips to help you keep the office cool.
It’s easy to assume that opening a window will let some air into a room that is slowly becoming a sauna. However, there are smarter ways to cool down a room than to let in more sunlight. During the peak sunlight hours, try keeping your curtains or blinds closed around the office, particularly south-facing windows. Around 30 percent of the unwanted heat that comes into your homes gets in through the windows. Keeping the curtains closed can lower indoor temperature by 20 percent. Another way to cool down your house is to invest in some commercial tinting, which stops heat, glare and damaging UV rays from entering your office, and prevents cool air from escaping, keeping your workspace cooler for longer. These measure will prevent your house from becoming a miniature greenhouse, and into an effect shelter from the heat. Open the curtains and windows in the early morning to let the cooler air circulate around the house.
When there is no breeze coming in through your windows then the best thing you can do is create your own indoor wind. Even if your building has A/C installed, it might not be equally distributed around the office, so some employees might be suffering more than others. Instead, you need to find a fan that suits your decor and budget. For those with a bigger budget, there are fans that don’t have noisy propellers and blades, so you don’t have to worry about any disruptions at work. Failing that, you can’t go wrong with a traditional chrome desk fan; it might not be as quiet, but no one will be complaining if they’re cold enough. If you have spent money on fans and air conditioning for your staff that haven’t been used since last summer, test them all in late February so you know they will work in the event of a hot spell. Furthermore, if you want to make the air a little colder without increasing the speed, then try placing a bowl of ice in front of the fan. The air the passes through the ice will be extra cold, and heavenly to your slowly melting employees. Alternatively, you can strategically place the fans near the window and face them outwards; this might seem counterproductive, but when facing the window the fan will actually push the hot air out of your office.
Encourage smart dress
You might have certain dress codes at work so that your business looks professional, but you might want to relax them in favour of letting your employees stay cool and comfortable. Heat is trapped by synthetic fibres, while natural fibres like cotton and linen absorb perspiration, causing you to feel cooler. Looser styles in light colours, which reflect the sun’s radiation also help, as the air circulating next to the skin helps perspiration evaporate, making you feel cooler. Male workers are more likely to suffer than their female co-workers; the women can wear skirts and dresses and still look professional, while men are always restricted to wearing trousers. Relax your dress codes and let them wear shorts to work if they are struggling to cool down.
Turn it off
One of the biggest reasons office workers suffer in the heat is because of all the electrical items they have to use. You may have noticed that lights, computers, and mobile phones left to charge all give off heat, which only adds to the increasing warmth from the sun. On really hot days, try to turn off anything that isn’t essential to the daily workload; encourage your colleagues to email memos and documents to each other instead of using the printer, and let everyone work on their laptops instead of using the big work computers. The more things you can turn off at the plug, the better.
Ban work lunches
If you’ve noticed that some of your employees tend to eat lunch at their desk, encourage them to eat it outside for a change. Not only will the nice weather make it a more pleasurable experience, but it will allow them to get at least 30 minutes of fresh air before they have to return to a stuffy office. Local parks or restaurants with outdoor seating areas will make a nice change of scenery, and they might even find the time to enjoy a refreshing ice cream before they head back to the office. However, it’s best to eat light meals when the weather is very warm; the body creates metabolic heat when it’s breaking down food, so the larger the meal, the more heat is produced.
Water for everyone
Drinking water is especially important during hot weather. Even if your employees bring in their own bottles, make sure you provide a few jugs and glasses for the forgetful few. You could even make it more tempting by infusing it with fruit, then sticking it in the fridge overnight. Everyone will be eager to help themselves to a cold glass of fruit-infused water first thing in the morning.