HR · 9 May 2016

Four ways to harness the heatwave and boost productivity

heatwave
When your employees just want to be on the beach, productivity can take a turn for the worse

As record-breaking May temperatures spur the inevitable stereotype reinforcing weather headlines across the UK press, we look at how you can adapt to the weather to motivate workers.

Though it was doubtless welcomed over the weekend, the temperatures in the high twenties which are set to continue throughout the UK throughout May create a serious risk that distracted, hay-fever ridden staff will slow down their pace of work and leave your micro business operating at a sluggish pace. But a sunny spell doesn’t have to be a drag on productivity – here’s how to make the most of it.

(1) Allow employees to vary their working hours

No one wants to be stuck on a sticky train during rush hour, and turning up at work flustered and irritable after such a journey is hardly conducive to getting a good day’s work done. And while the weather’s fine, many people would prefer to get up and out earlier in return for being able to finish work while the sun’s still out.

Letting staff start at 8am and finish at 4pm will not only allow them to avoid overheated commuter hell, but incentivise them to work hard to get everything finished during the day so they can enjoy the sunny afternoon.

(2) Make lunch breaks compulsory

It’s all very well promising an hour for lunch in employees’ contracts, but if you set deadlines for 1.30pm or never leave your desk yourself, it’s inevitable that your workers will feel uncomfortable taking it. So channel your inner dinner lady, tell everyone to save their work and close the office for an hour so everybody can get some fresh air.

As an added bonus, workers are more likely to choose a healthy lunch if they can eat it leisurely outside rather than stuffing it down at their desk – while some might even use their time outside to go for a brisk walk or cycle.

(3) Accommodate working from home

Given that the average British employee spends five hours each week commuting to and from their place of work, allowing flexible working – even if just for a short period – could mean a lot more time absorbing vitamin C and less time breathing other commuters’ armpits.

Not only could this boost your employees’ engagement, motivation and goodwill towards the company, but working in a different environment from usual will encourage you and your staff to look at work problems from a different perspective – and could result in some creative new suggestions for how to grow the business.

(4) Relax the office dress code

No one does their best work when they’re sweating away under layers of formalwear. Unless you’re expecting to be meeting with clients, there’s really no reason not to allow non-business items like t-shirts and flip-flops in the office when the temperature is unseasonably high.

If conference calls are a problem, allowing your staff to combine board shorts with a suit jacket and tie might get them some funny looks on the train, but will certainly show you’re going out of your way to make them comfortable.

For a more extreme reaction to the heat, why not take your whole team abroad to one of these exotic co-working spaces?

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Hannah Wilkinson is a reporter for Business Advice. She studied economics and management at Oxford University and prior to joining Business Advice wrote for Kensington and Chelsea Today about business and economics – as well as running a tutoring company.

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