With the summer (finally) approaching full swing, and regular rumblings of a heatwave around the corner, you don’t want your contact centre becoming oven-like. People are less productive in extreme temperatures, while employers who neglect to act on a boiling workplace can face legal action. So, what can you do to stay cool? Peter Ames, from workplace experts OfficeGenie.co.uk, has a few helpful hints
Before the Mercury begins to rise, there are a few things you can do to make sure you’re prepared:
It’s thought that humans function best in temperatures of no higher than 27ᵒC. So, first and foremost put thermometers up so you know where you stand straight away.
Insulate, insulate, insulate
Insulation isn’t just about keeping warm air in in winter, it’s about keeping it out in summer. So make sure, not only your centre, but all hot water pipes are insulated and aren’t furthering the heat.
Head to the shade
Make sure employees workstations aren’t in the full sun. While it may be difficult to huddle everyone together away from the windows, you can procure blinds fairly cheaply so they’re generally a must in many offices.
There are a range of cultural changes the Government’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommend your company consider to further help prevent people suffering the heat:
- Firstly, ensure you are aware of employees most at risk (pregnant women, older workers etc.)
- Train employees to recognise the symptoms of heat stress
- Indeed, and not explicitly recommended by HSE, make sure you have trained first aiders on hand – a must for any workplace at any time
Give the people what they want/need
We’ll come on to a full set of solutions momentarily, but HSE also recommend you have the right equipment in place to ensure people can cool down. This can be good air conditioning, fans, or simply the ability to open windows – many older properties may have broken window lock, or even have them painted over. Make sure everything that is supposed to open can open.
When things do begin to heat up, the following are recommended steps to take to cool everyone down:
Increasing numbers of employers are embracing flexible working, and it can be hugely helpful when the weather gets hot – for example employees may want to come in earlier, when the weather is cooler. They could then take a longer lunch break at the hottest time of the day.
Take a break
Indeed, breaks can be the key to keeping cool. Ensure all break areas are suitably cool, so they can provide relief, and even consider allowing longer or more frequent breaks.
If your contact centre employs a fairly strict, formal dress, employees could well benefit from this being relaxed on a hot day – even if only slightly.
Water way to do it
Water can, first and foremost, help keep everyone in your centre cool, hydrated and ultimately healthy. But studies have also shown drinking water can boost productivity. Make sure everyone has good access to cold water.
It may simply be a case of having to improvise – if one section of the centre is cooler, a few more people might have to work over there. Staff could also work in cooler meeting rooms, the kitchen, or even out of the office if it is more manageable – when it comes to working in a heatwave almost anything goes!
Ultimately, it can really pay for employees and employers alike to know the regulations in this situation. In summary, they state that employers have a duty to keep workplace temperature at a reasonable level, and they could face legal action if not. However, there is no guideline maximum temperature, so it is up to employees to voice concerns. If you’d like to read up on the full regulations, check out Office Genie’s guide.
Peter Ames is Product Manager at OfficeGenie.co.uk, a web-based search-site for desk rental and offices.