The Great British Office Bake Off

This week see the start of the unofficial Great British Office Bake Off. Before you get all excited, it’s not a competition. And it’s not so great either. With the mercury set to soar beyond 30oC in some parts of the UK this week, many offices and work environments are fast becoming unbearably hot places to work.

Did you know that if your workplace temperature dips below a parky 16oC (13oC for active work) , you have every right to down tools and go home? But incredibly there is still no maximum legal temperature for British workplaces.

For some years now, we’ve been calling for a max of 30oC (27oC if you are doing strenuous work) and for employers to take steps to cool workplaces when they get to 24oC.

While you can’t force your employer to make your office a comfortable place to work, it’s clearly in their interests. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that hot and bothered staff are irritable, lethargic and less productive.

Cool things your employer can do

The most immediate solution to the discomfort of working in a heatwave is letting staff leave their shirts, suits, trousers, blouses and ties at home and come to work in shorts, t-shirts and vest tops while the hot weather lasts.

While casual dress may not be appropriate for staff who are meeting external clients or dealing with the public, there are still plenty of things that can be done to improve the working environment. The TUC’s top tips to employers include:

  • distributing fans and portable air cooling cabinets to staff;
  • installing air con (and keep it serviced, so it doesn’t break down when it’s needed most!);
  • allowing staff to take frequent breaks and provide a ready supply of cool drinks; and
  • giving them the option to come in earlier or stay later to avoid the sweltering rush-hour commute.

Visit workSMART’s Summer Heat section for more tips and information on avoiding an office meltdown!