Summer has now hit the UK – and your office needs to be ready.
Warmer weather has a profound impact on Britain; our railways stop working and our roads have the potential to literally melt. However, for the people of the United Kingdom, summer is a great thing! The warm weather has been proven to improve people’s moods and encourages them to get out and be more sociable.
Unfortunately, these benefits often don’t always transfer over to the office. A recent study found that productivity in the workplace decreases by 20% during summer. In addition to this, it was also found that attendance decreases by 19%, projects take 13% more time to complete and workers are 45% more distracted.
None of these statistics are ideal for your business, so today we’re going to be sharing our top tips for keeping your office engaged and productive, even in this summer heat.
1. Make sure you’re keeping the office temperature cool – but don’t overdo the air conditioning
Uncomfortable temperatures are one of the largest factors that prohibit productivity. Being too hot in summer can cause dehydration, light-headedness and headaches – not to mention, far more serious problems like heatstroke or heat-exhaustion.
Making sure that the temperature that your office workers are working in is neutral and comfortable is essential for them being able to actually work.
However, having the AC blasting too high can have the opposite effect. While working in heat can cause your employees to suffer, working in the cold is just as bad!
2. Encourage your employees to stay hydrated and, if you don’t already, provide free water
The effects of dehydration cannot be overstated – for health purposes, let alone productivity the workplace. The effects of dehydration include:
- Dizziness or light-headedness
- Dry skin
These symptoms of dehydration will all have a direct impact on productivity; if your employees are tired, dizzy and suffering from migraines, how will they be able to concentrate? How can they focus on their work? They can’t – and your business’s output will suffer for it.
Worse than this, dehydration can actually lead to worse, potential long-term health problems such as:
- Heat injury.
- Urinary and kidney problems.
- Low blood volume shock (hypovolemic shock).
As you can see, making sure that your employees are hydrated throughout the day is essential. Not only should you encourage your employees to bring in their own water, you should provide free, accessible water for your office.
3. Flexible hours
Another possible avenue to consider is the introduction of flexible working hours. In summer, employees typically want to be in the sun, not cooped up in the office, so introducing more flexible hours can be the best of both worlds.
A lot of companies see success with this tactic. Employees are more engaged with the business as they appreciate the flexibility – and are more productive during their working hours. As we’ve already discussed in this blog, working more hours doesn’t amount to doing more work – it’s how productive your employees are during the time that they’re working that you need to focus on.
A few ideas for a flexible summer hours policy include:
- “Early weekend” – on Fridays, allow employees to leave an hour early.
- Start earlier, finish earlier – during summer, it can just get hotter and hotter as the day gets on, so some people may want to start early and spend less time in the heat.
- Working from home (/remotely) options – we’ve covered the various benefits of working from home in detail on this blog already (as well as the drawbacks), but it can allow employees to work from the comfort of their own home – which is a big bonus in this often uncomfortable weather.
4. Encourage vacations
You may be slightly taken aback by this next tip – we are, after all, trying to keep your employees at work and fighting fit. However, as we’ve discussed in our post about taking breaks during the workday, one of the most beneficial things for your productivity happens to be not working!
Let’s face it: your employees are all dreaming about taking full advantage of the summer months by going on holidays and escaping to the beach. Why not encourage them to take a trip so that they’re refreshed and ready to work when they get home?
A quick way to cool down the office? Try investing in some office fans!
Two of the issues that can arise when relying on air conditioning to keep your office cool are that air conditioning can be too harsh – and that someone will always want it on a different setting. Making use of desk fans is a perfect solution to this problem; employees can control how hot or cold their environment is to suit their individual needs.
6. Encourage employees to take short breaks
Short breaks during the workday can help employees to consistently work productively.
In 2008, a University of Illinois study found that the brain’s cognitive resources drop after a long period of focusing on a single task, decreasing our focus and hindering performance. Breaks act as a mental reset and allow us to come back more focused and productive. – Source
During summer, there are so many things waiting to distract your employees – the insufferable heat, the arguments over the air conditioning, the looking out the window and daydreaming about the beach – that it’s inevitable. Why not get ahead of it and encourage your employees to take the breaks that they need?
7. Prioritise communication and most important work in the morning
Our last tip is to take advantage of the most productive time of day – the morning. Mornings will generally be the coolest part of working hours, plus your employees haven’t been cooking in the heat all day; these are optimal working conditions.
If you can prioritise tasks and schedule the most important ones for this time of day, you’ll be getting the hard part out of the way straight off the bat.
We hope you found these tips helpful and will be able to implement some of them in your workplace this summer. If you found this post useful, don’t forget to share.