|Summer is here and your offices are getting unbearably warm, so productivity is slumping and your staff would rather be anywhere than at work. It’s a nightmare scenario for a small business owner on tight margins, particularly if you’re trying to keep your energy bills and carbon footprint down. While there’s no legal requirement for a maximum working temperature, health and safety laws do say that work temperatures should be reasonable.
So how can you keep staff comfortable during a summer heatwave and get the most out of them even when the mercury is rising, all without jeopardising your finances and increasing your environmental impact?
Here are just a few recommendations to help businesses through spells of hot weather.
Offer flexible working
If possible, allow staff to work from home, this can enable them to work in a comfortable environment and avoid uncomfortably hot commutes. But it also means less body heat will be generated in the office and can have a big impact on how much energy your business will consume. Indeed, having fewer people on site means less electronic equipment will be used on the hottest days, so unused devices such as computers and printers can be completely turned off. This has the added bonus of taking away something else that might potentially push up the temperature.
Keep staff hydrated
Providing extra water coolers and bottled water to members of staff can ensure colleagues are properly hydrated, and they’ll appreciate the fact you’re trying to look after them too.
Relax dress codes
Employees might not need to be in a suit and tie to do their job, so be flexible with your work code. If your staff do need to wear a uniform, why not provide a more appropriate summer alternative, such as a t-shirt, so they can still sport your brand name and logo even in the hottest conditions?
Let cool air in at night
Leaving windows open at night can allow the office to fill with cooler air after the sun goes down. This could make a big difference the following morning and, providing the security of your building isn’t compromised, you may be able to avoid using air conditioning at the start of the working day.
Offer shade to employees
Stopping heat getting in is cheaper and more energy-efficient than trying to cool down an office on a hot day, so invest in blinds for the windows and maybe some tinted reflective film as well.
Give fans to staff
If the above measures aren’t working, then floor fans can be extremely helpful in taking the edge off the intense heat. But again, they’re quite energy-intensive, so hand fans could be an equally effective yet more environmentally-friendly alternative.
It’s worth pointing out that the World Meteorological Organization expects 2016 to be the world’s hottest year on record, with global temperatures between January and June breaking records. If this is a sign of things to come, then businesses need to be resilient in the face of high temperatures and considerate if staff are to be comfortable and productive.
Thankfully, it’s possible to do this in an affordable yet energy-efficient way and without abandoning your efforts to reduce your carbon footprint.
FSB issues hot weather guidance for small businesses FSB
5 ways to keep your office cool and energy costs down RealCommercial.com.au
Global climate breaks new records January to June 2016 World Meteorological Organization