How to Maintain Productivity in the Workplace During Hot Weather

They call it the summer slump, a time between June and August when businesses experience a decline in productivity in the workplace during hot weather.

As heatwaves see temperatures in the UK soar to 40°C, the summer slump is becoming a bigger issue for businesses in the UK that are not set up for hot weather.

Why does the summer slump happen? Well, there are a number of factors at play here, including:

  • The heat, which makes you more tired, less active and generally less productive.
  • Cognitive distractions and FoMo caused by social media (friends flaunting their days out and holidays).
  • It’s time for a break. It’s over halfway through the year and workers are preparing to wind down for their long awaited summer holiday.
  • Everyone else is on holiday and decision makers can be hard to contact. 

The Summer Slump Genuinely Impacts on Business Activity

We love a stat, so here are a few that really put into perspective the problems that this ‘summer slump’ causes for business owners.

  • 25% of office workers feel their productivity levels drop in the summer months.
  • 68% of office workers admit to daydreaming and feel more distracted during this period.

While we are certainly not experts in cognitive research into heatwaves and general hot weather, we can offer advise on how to maintain productivity in the workplace during hot weather using your office space.

Air Conditioning Is the Obvious Answer, But Don’t be Fooled By the Cool!

Dare we start with the most obvious of solutions to the heatwave – air conditioning?

Yes, keeping the office cool and well ventilated will vastly improve cognitive productivity during a heatwave of hot weather, but if it’s too cold you will have the same effect as the office being too hot.

Air conditioning in the office is very much a topic for debate and 10% of employees have spent significant time arguing over the right temperature. So, let us put this argument to rest once and for all with some good old fashioned scientific proof.

According to a study by Cornell University, the optimum office temperature for productivity and is 77°F / 25°C.

At this temperature, workers in the study demonstrated 100% keyboard activity with just a 10% error rate, but at 68°F / 20°C, the keyboard productivity dropped to 54% with a 25% error rate. Therefore, maintaining an optimum temperature is critical to maintaining productivity in the workplace during hot weather

There are Types of Workers That Complement Each Other and Increase Productivity

It’s true, there are people in this world that make us better at our jobs and where you sit in the office and the people you surround yourself with, can have a major impact on your productivity.

Research from Cornerstone OnDemand and Harvard Business School showed that seating the right types of workers together led to increased productivity and profits. As a result, the business performance increased by 15%.

More than 2,000 employees took part in the study over 2 years, who were segmented in to three categories:

  • The Productive worker, who completes a lot of tasks quickly, but lacks quality.
  • The Quality worker, who produces superior work, but is less productive.
  • The Generalist worker, who is on average productive and delivers quality work.

What they discovered is the Generalists were 13% more effective when seated together. While the Productive and Quality workers had a more positive impact when sat near to each other. By pairing those that possess the opposite strengths made them 17% more effective workers. Overall the study showed a 15% increase in organizational performance.

A Change of Scene Could Be the Answer

There are many of us who have adopted a hybrid work culture over the last few years, where working from home and the office is the norm. In fact many of us have got used to solidarity and we perform better alone. Regardless of personal preferences, sometimes you just need a change of scene to become more productive.

If you are office based, moving desks or going to a quieter area could be the answer. As an office refurbishment contractor in London, we have seen a significant rise in the trend for breakout spaces and office pods within the capital’s workplaces, which is filtering out to the Home Counties.

Office pods provide a space away from the hubbub, where you can get your head down without distractions. Yet, you still have access to the wider workforce when you need it – something workers may lack when working from home.

The great thing about office pods is they can come fully air conditioned, furnished and with acoustic properties. So, not only are they ideal for independent working, but they are useful for recording webinars, podcast, and video conferencing. Honestly, these stand-alone pods have come on leaps and bounds over the years, and we are big fans of their practical and stylish features.

Office Breakout spaces and meeting rooms also offer a change of scene. The adoption of remote working means you can pretty much work anywhere. Therefore office design is moving away from the traditional office space where everyone has a dedicated. Instead, the office design trend is provide a range of spaces, where teams can collaborate, or workers can work independently. We have already mentioned the pods, but there are other means of creating breakout spaces, such as:

Exercise Should Be a Priority Not a Luxury

We know, the last thing you want to be doing when it’s hot is exercising! But, according to Harvard Business Review, it is scientifically proven to give us:

  • Improved concentration
  • Sharper memory
  • Faster learning
  • Prolonged mental stamina
  • Enhanced creativity
  • Lower stress
  • Improve our mood

When we’re too busy, stressed and overwhelmed exercising is understandably considered a luxury, but should businesses be enabling staff to make it a priority?

In a study by the Metropolitan University, 200 employees, who had access to an in-office gym and yoga studio, found that their overall experience at work changed on days they used the fitness facilities. 

Changes included:

  • Better time management. 
  • Being more productive.
  • Having smoother interactions with colleagues. 
  • They went home feeling satisfied at the end of the day.

Having an office gym isn’t a practical solution for every business when considering how to productivity in the workplace during hot weather. However, there are other solutions to ensuring your workforce exercise regularly. Here are some ideas you might find helpful:

  • Promote local exercise classes and clubs internally.
  • Create your own exercise clubs and set challenges, such as entering events, races, competitions or set your own goals.
  • Allow a later start or earlier finishes three times a week. Staff can make up the time at the end/beginning of the day if necessary. Alternatively, gift the time for a trial period to see how a healthy workforce impacts on your business.
  • Strike a deal with your local gym or leisure centre for a reduced members fee.
  • Employ a fitness instructor or personal trainer to come by three times a week and offer classes.

If you are thinking of incorporating fitness into your working day, you may need to consider adapting the office. Here are a few things to think about:

  • Will the floor withstand the weight of the equipment if you are fitting an in-office gym?
  • Is the ventilation adequate?
  • Do you have sufficient air conditioning?
  • Will you be offering wash facilities?

Use Office Design to Create an Enjoyable Workplace

We’ve talked about the specifics of how to encourage productivity in the workplace during hot weather using your office space, but we haven’t yet touched on the design. Fundamentally, the office needs to look and feel welcoming at all times of year, not just during hot weather. Who wants to work somewhere that is dull and inspiring? Certainly not us!

As an office refurbishment contractor, we often talk about using office design to enhance the wellbeing of you workforce. Ultimately, the optimum office design will be unique to your business and the space you have available, but we can offer some ideas:

  • Use hues that represent your branding. 
  • Use imagery, text, and accessories that reflect your company culture.
  • Provide versatile work zones for independent and teamwork.
  • Lighting should be used to enhance the design and provide a productive space.
  • Use finishes and textiles that denote the brand and culture.
  • Implement office planting to provide natural ventilation.
  • Show you care for the planet by implementing sustainable products and practises.
  • Water features and fish tanks have calming and cooling effects.

Helping You Improve Productivity in the Workplace During Hot Weather

We hope that you have enjoyed our ideas to productivity in the workplace during hot weather using your office space.

The team at JBH are always on hand to provide inspiration and practical solutions for your workplace. Therefore, if you are planning an office refurbishment or design and build project, and are based in London, Kent, Surrey, Sussex or the wider South East, then please get in touch.

Our team would love to hear from you. Contact us via our contact form or call us on 0333 207 0339.


Know How

How To Cope With Excessive Workplace Temperatures

As workplace temperatures soar across the UK, reaching unprecedented temperatures, how can staff cope with the heat?

How to Maintain Productivity in the Workplace During Hot Weather

They call it the summer slump, a time between June and August when businesses experience a decline in productivity in the workplace during hot weather.