When it is too hot, it’s harder to work: this is not just a popular idea, but a reality that has also been studied by science. When temperatures rise, our bodies react, affecting our ability to concentrate and perform physical and mental activities. In this article, we will explore how heat affects productivity in the office, providing some useful strategies to cope with this challenge.
Heat, the human body, the office: Occupational Heat Stress
When the thermometer rises, our body may have to deal with certain changes. The rise in temperature can cause feelings of tiredness and exhaustion, making it difficult to maintain high levels of energy and concentration. In addition, heat can affect the quality of sleep at night, making us less responsive during the working day.
In addition to its impact on the human body, heat can also affect the office working environment. High temperatures, if not managed properly, can make the environment uncomfortable, leading to increased stress and irritability in people. Heat can also affect the air quality in the office, making ventilation worse and increasing feelings of oppression.
According to a study by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), productivity drops with temperatures above 24-26°C and is reduced by 50% when temperatures exceed 33-34°C. These heat levels in the workplace, if persistent over a long period, can have mild consequences such as cramps and exhaustion, but can also cause more serious repercussions, from loss of consciousness to heart attacks.
Strategies for dealing with heat
There are several strategies that can be adopted to better cope with heat in the office and keep employee productivity high.
First of all, it’s important to ensure that the working environment is adequately ventilated and cool, by thermally insulating the building and using fans and/or air conditioning systems when necessary: according to the WHO, the ideal temperature in the office should be between 18°C and 24°C.
It’s useful to provide employees with refreshing drinks and to equip the office, whenever possible, with outdoor spaces where they can relax and cool down during breaks. These places are ideal for active breaks: short walks and stretching exercises can help reduce feelings of tiredness and improve concentration.
During warmer days, it can also be helpful to adopt a more flexible work schedule. Allowing employees to start earlier in the morning or to return later from their lunch break can help avoid the hottest hours of the day, thus ensuring greater comfort during working hours.
Hot weather can affect productivity in the office, but with proper organisation and attention to the well-being of employees, this challenge can be best addressed. Maintaining a comfortable working environment is essential to ensure an excellent workflow!