With Environment Canada issuing a heat warning for the Lower Mainland, many are faced with less-than-optimal working conditions. For your employees, whether they’re working from home, the office, or on a job site, staying cool should be a top priority.
Of course, the heat is more than just an inconvenience during summer in the workplace. It can also be a hazard. Employees who are unable to stay cool may experience issues with concentration, fatigue, heat-related illness such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke, dehydration, and more.
Consider relaxing your dress code in favour of more casual and cooling outfits.
Employers are responsible for ensuring that their employees can work effectively and safely. Give employees the option to wear more casual outfits to keep them cool. This can include different fabrics, like cotton or linen, that are cooling and help minimize sweat, as well as just fewer items of clothing rather than requiring a jacket at all times. There are many brands, including Lululemon, that make clothing that looks like business wear but is made out of athletic materials that provide more stretch and comfort. Allow your employees to wear sundresses, golf shorts and polos, or whatever else is comfortable but still appropriate for summer in the workplace.
Of course, dress codes exist for a reason and for some roles—particularly customer-facing roles—there’s less flexibility about what employees can wear. Providing those employees with resources to cooling fashions, such as the Men’s Warehouse’s cooling dress shirts, will give them options to beat the heat without sacrificing style or professionalism.
Invest in air conditioning or other cooling methods.
Not only is air conditioning a great way to encourage your employees to come into the office if you have a hybrid work model, but it’s practically a must-have during a heat wave.
If your workspace doesn’t have central air conditioning, you should consider investing in some ultra-quiet fans or portable A/C units. You want the fans/units spread out to create airflow, but to not disrupt employees’ work by blowing papers around or being too noisy.
If your employees are working remotely, you can recommend air conditioned coworking spaces near their home and provide subsidized memberships.
Coworking spaces such as WeWork have become increasingly popular as many organizations transitioned to full-time remote work during the pandemic. Many shared workspaces are in newer, and cooler, buildings that have central air.
The spaces give employees a place to go work if they find their home office set-up less than ideal or distracting, or if they crave a space with other people, need somewhere quieter than home to take an important meeting, or if they want air conditioning.
Provide employees with what they need to stay cool during the summer in the workplace, but also allow for flexibility.
Ensure that employees have plenty of water to drink, and encourage them to stay hydrated. Additionally, allow employees some flexibility with their schedules and completing tasks. They may prefer to get the bulk of their work done early in the morning or into the evening to avoid having to focus during the heat of the day.
Also encourage employees to take lots of breaks, as well as to book time off to enjoy their summer.