This year has seen UK temperatures soar to 30 degrees and above and that wasn’t just for the odd day. The sustained heat wave caused officials to issue a level two heat wave health warning in areas of Britain, and according to experts, these temperatures are set to become a more regular occurrence in the UK due to global warming.
When the sun is cracking the pavements, it naturally lifts everyone’s spirits and people flock to parks for picnics and meet friends in beer gardens for after work drinks. However, the heat wave isn’t always fun, and soaring temperatures in the workplace can reduce productivity, cause errors and result in unhappy staff.
What is the ideal temperature in the workplace?
In the UK, the law does not state a minimum or maximum temperature. However, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) do say workrooms should normally be at least 16 degrees or 13 degrees if the job entails rigorous physical effort. Employers must follow health and safety law in the workplace, which means they need to provide clean, fresh air and keep the temperature at a comfortable level.
YouGov research found that the average ideal temperature for a British person is 21 degrees. Between 20-25 degrees seems to be the perfect temperature according to researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who collected temperature recordings and productivity ratings from 24 different studies.
How does the temperature impact productivity?
No one likes to feel uncomfortable and sweaty at work, but for those working in offices without air conditioning and workers who have to be outside and endure the heat, it’s the reality of a heat wave.
The temperature massively affects the productivity of workers, with research showing the productivity of the average British worker when the temperatures nears 37 degrees reduces by more than 60%. The heat can cause stress, dizziness, lack of focus and tiredness, resulting in a huge fall in quality of work. It can also affect overall staff morale, as people will feel lethargic, uncomfortable and even unwell.
What can you do to tackle soaring temperatures in the workplace?
The most obvious solution is air conditioning. Investing in air con in an office or workplace can be extremely beneficial and will allow you to keep temperatures at the optimum level of 21 – 25 degrees throughout the day.
If air con isn’t an option, allow for a more relaxing dress code, so staff can wear light, breathable fabrics that they will feel more comfortable in. You can also consider the amount of work you are expecting from staff when they are not in the most comfortable of temperatures.
Although there is no law stating a minimum or maximum temperature in the UK, if a significant number of employees complain about their unhappiness or discomfort, employers should carry out a risk assessment and act accordingly.
For any workplace advice, contact us today.