Hot in the office

While most of us enjoy it when the temperature rises, hot weather can take a toll on office productivity. Yet given that we can’t all move round the office as the sun moves round, what can we do about it?

Well, a bit of common sense doesn’t go amiss, starting with adopting less formal office wear which can be chosen by individuals for cooling comfort rather than adhering to a strict dress code.

People sometimes forget that office equipment such as computers, copiers and printers give out energy in the form of heat. In isolation, one item might not generate so much, but when lots of items can generate a surprising amount, switching them off when not in use helps.

Though opening windows is both an easy and sensible way to help regulate the office temperature and improve ventilation, especially post-Covid, workstations that are very close to the expanse of glass will become hot very quickly as the sun shines through, so moving desks away when temperatures are high is a good idea.

Historically, UK buildings were designed to keep heat in rather than let it out, so air-conditioning units have certainly become a preferred option if not necessarily an essential one. They use a lot of energy and contribute to the very climate change that is exacerbating the rise in temperatures. Far better for heat resilience to be incorporated into new building stock in the future, and ventilation improved.

External window shades and shaded outside areas could help, while thermometers or humidity metres in the office keep staff informed and able to identify particular hotspots which can then be mitigated.

Planting trees is often cited as a benefit to climate change, but it is backed up by figures. The Office for National Statistics calculated that in 11 city regions, urban woodlands prevented the loss of around £230 million in workforce productivity.

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