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The surprising effects a heatwave can have on your workplace

We’re feeling the heat here in the UK. It’s fair to say that air conditioning has rarely been more of a priority for British workplaces than in these past few weeks! The heatwave is showing no signs of slowing down, with temperatures reaching almost up to the late 20s for the past two weeks. There’s more to a heatwave than just getting a little hot under the collar, though. A heatwave can have all sorts of effects on an office, some of them surprisingly subtle. Here are just a few!

Effects on productivity

The effects of high heat on employees have been well-documented by a number of studies over the years. In fact, you probably don’t need the science to tell you that rise in temperatures cause people to feel sluggish, and more likely to under-perform cognitively. Now, we won’t go too much into the biology of it, but if you’re interested, it’s all to do with your body temperature. You expend a lot energy to stay cool, even if you don’t realise it. In high enough temperatures, this can start to feel physically draining, which is why you end up feeling tired and distracted. It’s not uncommon for workers to feel decreased energy and quickly lose concentration on hot days.

too hot at work

Effects on human safety

As well as damaging productivity, heatwaves can even be physically dangerous. In hot enough temperatures, fatigue can result in dizziness and fainting. Depending on the situation, this can easily put people in tangible physical danger. Momentarily fainting at your desk isn’t the best case scenario, but it’s a lot better than doing it at the top of some stairs! Similarly, heatstroke can be another real danger. This is especially true for people working in cities, or large towns, where temperatures can get particularly high because of the high concentrations of human activity. For these reasons – and others – air conditioning is a vital investment for any workplace.

Effects on office environment and equipment

Soaring temperatures can affect the office environment in ways that are quite subtle, and therefore often underestimated. For example, exceptionally warm temperatures make ideal breeding conditions for bacteria. This requires everyone in the office to be particularly aware of their food hygiene. Ham or turkey can’t be left out for long, even if it’s cooked and sliced. It’s easy to underestimate how quickly bacteria can breed, which can potentially lead to food poisoning and other illnesses. Of course, air conditioning can take the edge off, but it’s still a good thing to be aware of all year round anyway!

busy office

Another often underestimated effect of high temperatures is their effect on equipment. Now, you don’t have to worry about most modern and well-maintained machinery, as they’ll only start to feel the effects at about 35C. If temperatures get that high, you’ve got more to worry about than computers! Poorly maintained or older machines can sometimes struggle, as overheating can cause them to spontaneously shut down. If they’re noticeably slower, or making worrying noises such as whining or screeching, it’s worth giving them a break until they’ve had a chance to cool down. Also – take a look at the vents, as blockages will cause them to overheat even faster.

Speaking of vents – there is of course another type in most offices that will make your life a lot easier. Investing in air conditioning for your workplace makes your workforce happier, healthier, safer and more productive. That’s where we come in here at Askews. Our heating, ventilation and air conditioning experts have years of experience in installing systems to take the edge off extreme weather all year round. Click here to get a free quote, or give us a call on 01282 863 825.

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