Hot weather and the workplace

The current heat wave in the UK will be a cause for celebration for some, and reason to despair for others, but sun-worshipper or not, the rarity of this warm weather brings some considerations for managers in the workplace.

Dress Code

One of the main issues employees will have in warmer weather is their dress. It really depends on the organisation’s culture here on what the best option is. For example, employees who usually would be required wear a full suit might be given the choice to forgo their ties and jackets, whilst employees that work with casual dress codes will have a personal choice to make with regards to more appropriate clothing. Employers might want to specify (tactfully) that clothing like shorts or low-cut dresses are inappropriate, but again discretion is the order of the day.

Health and Safety

Probably the most important thing to consider during an extended period of hot weather is the health and safety of workers.

The Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers recommends the following temperatures for different working areas:

 

working in hot weather

 

24°C is generally seen as the top end of comfortable working temperatures for non-strenuous activity, whilst 30°C is seen as an absolute maximum that employers should strive to get well below.

The TUC site provides more information on accepted standards for workplaces in warm weather, as well as advice for health and safety representatives.

General comfort/morale/happiness

Aside from any legal applications of controlling the temperature of the workplace, there is also the simple courtesy of making it comfortable. Air conditioning, desk fans or open windows for the temperature of the building, facilities for access to cold water the chance to get outside for fresh air are all things that will be appreciated, despite the fact that you might not be obliged to do so.

Tips for working in hot weather

  • Make yourself as comfortable as possible with desk and hand fans, and if this isn’t doing the trick consider asking for air conditioning units.
  • Stay hydrated by keeping a bottle of water handy. It will help you cool down and increase concentration.
  • If necessary, and within reason, take regular breaks to avoid becoming flustered and losing focus.
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