Guest Blog by Jonathan Dungan, Marketing Executive at 247meeting
It’s like, really hot.
There are better, more sesquipedalian ways to convey that message, but I find it’s too hot to even string a series of relevant thoughts together.
I even had to run a Google search to find that fancy word there, all because I can’t seem to express myself properly in these drought-like conditions. It’s a great word though, it actually means ‘long, fancy word’.
If you’re like me and find that you’re worryingly unproductive during a heatwave, rejoice! Science has gone ahead and proven that it’s not actually our fault.
Why Am I So Useless in this Heat?
According to a scientific study from the University of Copenhagen, hot weather slows your body down. The hotter it is, the more energy your body will use trying to keep itself cool.
Basically, even walking from the front door to your car will require a lot more energy than usual. Every menial task becomes slightly more arduous and, as a result, we end up ‘crashing out’ earlier during the day. Obviously, things can be a lot worse depending on the actual conditions in your workplace, a lack of A/C being the most common issue.
Despite the documented evidence detailing the lack of energy employees have during high temperatures, organisations have always remained reluctant to award days-off due to high temperatures.
Am I Entitled to Avoid Work At All?
The short answer, no. In Ireland, the Health and Safety Authority’s Health and Welfare at Work (General Applications) Regulations 2007 (make sure to rehydrate after reading that) states that there is, in fact, no maximum temperature at which employees can refuse to do their duties.
Similarly in the UK, where workers are not entitled to any time off, although the Trades Union Congress has recommended procedures that employers should undertake in order to keep their staff comfortable. These include:
- Providing regular breaks
- Supplying fans to each employee
- Moving desks away from windows
- Relaxing attitudes on dress code
- Allowing employees to work from home
Now there’s an idea.
Work Remotely During a Heatwave
Although you can’t avoid work altogether, working remotely during a heatwave can contribute to a huge upswing in productivity. By cutting out a slow commute in an overheated car each morning, you can save big on energy levels needed for actual work.
Because heatwaves are such a rarity across Ireland and the UK, it comes as news to a lot of us here that our bodies can actually adapt to heat!
Utilise any time spent working remotely by acclimatising yourself to the heat, this can actually be done relatively quickly. Allow yourself periodic breaks during your day to do some small activities in the sunlight. This can include:
- Going for a walk
- Doing yoga
- Doing some gardening
- Playing with a child
- Undertaking a minor workout
“But I thought you told me to avoid expelling energy in the heat?” Well, yes I did. That’s why I recommend limiting these outdoor activities to 10/15 minutes at a time covered head-to-toe in sunscreen while constantly drinking water.
In order for our bodies to adapt to the heat, we need to produce more plasma (the liquid part of our blood). After exercising in the heat, our bodies produce more plasma, allowing for a larger volume of blood to circulate throughout our bodies. The benefits of this are twofold, it:
- Carries more oxygen to our muscles, which is then used to generate energy;
- Assists in regulating body temperature.
By utilising remote work to get out into the sun often and adapting to the heat as quickly as possible, you should find yourself back to regular energy levels in the office again after a day or two.
There’s no point avoiding the office if your home or remote workspace is even hotter than your office is. Also, consider the tools you’ll need to work remotely during a heatwave. Basically, make sure you’re prepared!
- If you don’t have A/C in your house, see if there’s a public workspace or even a coffee shop nearby that provides air conditioning.
- If A/C is out of the question, use fans at home to keep air circulating around the room.
- Keep blinds down and pull out any awnings to block sunlight entering the room.
- Keep your house stocked with plenty of food, liquids, and medicines.
- Ensure you have access to all the relevant files and folders you’ll need in order to work seamlessly with those in the office i.e. Google Docs.
- Ensure your organisation has a means of instant, internal messaging i.e. Slack, or Google Hangouts.
- Make sure you have a quick and easy conference service so you can speak to your colleagues when necessary.
While this heatwave doesn’t seem to be going away, lets try and stay productive by taking a few extra breaks and getting used to that sun that is going to be with us for the next month.