The summer months can often be disruptive for businesses, with the good weather and dreams of holidays playing on the minds of employees.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states a minimum temperature in work spaces of 16°C (or 13°C if the work involves rigorous effort) but hasn’t officially set a maximum limit1. The Trades Union Congress (TUC), meanwhile, says that people work best at between 16°C and 24°C, depending on the type of work. They recommend 20°C for office workers and have called for a maximum temperature to be set at 30°C.
But as anyone that’s ever worked indoors during hot weather will know, it can not only be uncomfortable, but also reduce productivity2 and can lead to staff becoming disgruntled.
To help, we’ve got some ideas businesses can explore when it comes to keeping employees happy, less distracted and more productive during the warmer months.
Relax the dress code
While one in ten UK businesses have begun to relax their dress codes3, many still expect their staff to wear smart work attire at all times.
The shorts and flip-flops look might not be appropriate in your line of work, but you may want to consider allowing staff to remove ties and jackets in summer to help them keep cool. There is evidence to suggest a relaxed dress code can increase productivity – the majority of UK workers said they would feel more productive if relaxed clothes were allowed. Also, 78% of respondents said they’d still dress professionally even if there was no dress code in place.
Look after the wellbeing of your staff
Many of us will have experienced a longing to be out in the sunshine instead of cooped up inside during the working day.
More businesses are buying into the idea of helping improve their employees’ wellbeing by encouraging activities outdoor during the summer months such as yoga, meetings and exercise clubs.
Studies have indicated that our minds respond well to nature4, helping to reduce stress, focus more and foster productivity, so outdoor or walking meetings might be something to think about.
Yoga continues to grow in popularity as a way of helping relieve stress and boost creativity and has become a recognised way of how businesses can help keep their staff fit and healthy.5 All the better if these classes can be held outside.
Keep them hydrated
Staying well-hydrated is always important, but particularly in summer months when the temperatures are higher and perspiration naturally increases.6 Keeping hydrated isn’t just important for wellbeing, but performance too – research has shown that a reduction in hydration levels of as little as 2% of body weight can lead to greater feelings of fatigue and reduced levels of alertness.7
Make sure you encourage staff to drink plenty of fluids during warmer weather – ensure they have plenty of access to fresh water, providing them with reusable water bottles they can fill up throughout the day. This will help to reduce plastic usage too!
Helping staff with school holiday childcare
Juggling work commitments and parenting can prove extremely complicated and costly, especially during the long school summer holidays.8 HMRC found that 33 per cent of parents get stressed out arranging childcare in the school holidays, while a third also felt anxious about juggling work commitments with the needs of their kids.9
Offering flexible working hours could be one way to help parents on your team. Another way you could help alleviate parents’ worries is by making them aware of tax-free childcare, which allows eligible working families to claim 20 per cent of their childcare costs, up to £2,000 per child per year (or £4,000 for a child with a disability), from the government.
Consider altering working hours
It’s generally cooler in the morning than it is the afternoon, with 3pm being the hottest part of the day10, so it may worth allowing staff to start and finish work earlier, allowing them to enjoy the lighter evenings and spend time with family.
Remote working might also be an avenue to pursue, as staff may be better-placed to keep themselves cool in their own home-working environment than in an office surrounded by other people.
Extended lunch breaks
In Spain, many companies continue the long-running tradition of taking a break between 2pm and 5pm – when the outdoor weather is the hottest, causing productivity to take a nose dive – returning to work for another two hours before close of business each day.
Although a three-hour lunch break and 7pm finish time might seem like too much of a culture shift for the UK and unnecessary with our temperamental weather, a longer lunch break during a period of hot weather would allow UK workers to enjoy more of the good weather and perhaps make them more productive.
To find out more about how Sovereign can help support your employees’ health and wellbeing, visit sovereignhealthcare.co.uk/business