It’s 11 a.m. on a humid, sticky Monday. Despite the air conditioning and numerous fans blowing around the office, the summer heat has somehow crept indoors, causing a general feeling of discomfort and crankiness among employees. Tempers run higher than normal as the unbearable heat causes frustration and irritability to set in, giving way to small disagreements and arguments that pop up throughout the workday.
The worst part? It’s only day one of the workweek, and moods will only worsen as the week wears on.
The great news is you can combat summer heat stress and illness during the hot summer months in the office. Follow the tips below to keep everyone cool, calm and collected and maintain peace and efficiency in the workplace.
The summer heat breeds flaring tempers and moodiness among employees who may not have a problem with their coworkers in cooler climates. According to Live Science, hot and humid weather is associated with increases in aggression and violence, as well as a lower general mood. Why? Because dehydration, trouble sleeping and being cooped up inside all day to avoid the heat causes worsening moods in warmer weather, and employees stuck working in an office space all day fit this description.
Trying to create as cool and peaceful of a work environment as possible will be your best bet at controlling the office mood thermometer. Here are some practices to implement in your office.
Encourage breaks outside of the office
Staying cooped up in a small cubicle all day along with a dozen or so other workers does not contribute to a happy work environment. Encourage employees to get out of the office and take some small breaks. Office workers can leave the office for a bit to grab lunch or coffee at a restaurant or café. Maybe employees would benefit from reading a book outside in the shade of a tree on their lunch, or taking a short walk around the building if the heat isn’t too unbearable.
Allow a more comfortable dress code
Rather than enforcing a strict and professional dress code during the summer, WiseStep suggests you lighten up a bit on the rules and allow employees to dress a bit more comfortably. Maybe allow office workers to wear khaki or black shorts during extremely hot days, or encourage short-sleeve shirts and lighter fabrics. An office full of people in heavy, dark suits, pants and ties does not contribute to a cooler workplace, and instead adds to the heat of the office.
Provide drinking water and other cool treats
Invest in water bottles and water pitchers to keep employees hydrated. Consider buying everyone a company-branded water bottle to use during the hot summer months and beyond. Stressing the importance of hydration will keep employees happier and healthier in the heat. Also, stock the office fridge with other summer treats such as ice cream and or fresh fruits. Showing employees you are concerned for their health and wellness will have a positive increase on the moods around the office.
Create a mediation plan for when tempers erupt
Regardless of the preventative measures you take, it is very likely that employee tempers could still erupt. As the thought of heat and being cooped up inside makes employees cranky, the chances of an argument taking place increases. To make the situation as peaceful as possible, have a plan for when such disagreements occur. Maybe take the involved employees into another room to get away from the office and cool down. Or have the employees go for a walk to take some time to get away from one another and out of the hostile environment of the situation. Have a plan ready to try and keep the peace as much as possible for the sake of the office atmosphere.
Along with the usual seasonal illnesses (colds, sinus infections, etc.), summer brings along the risk of heat-related illnesses, including heat exhaustion. One of the best ways to fight heat exhaustion is to understand the symptoms of this ailment.
According to WebMD, two types of heat exhaustion exist: water depletion and salt depletion. Employees complaining of excessive thirst, weakness or headache may be experiencing water depletion, while employees experiencing nausea and vomiting, muscle cramps and dizziness could be undergoing salt depletion. Other heat exhaustion symptoms include confusion, fainting, pale skin, profuse sweating and rapid heartbeat.
To fight these heat-related illnesses, try to keep the office cooler than usual. Encourage employees to drink plenty of cold water, and stock the office common room with water bottles or pitchers of water to provide access to refreshment at all times. Though people typically experience heat exhaustion from being outdoors, office workers are still at risk for dehydration, especially during days of excessive heat.
Some other heat-related illnesses according to the CDC include heat cramps, heat rash and heat stroke. To ward off other illness, such as colds, keep plenty of hand sanitizer, tissues and other medical supplies on hand for employees to use.
Summer heat wears down office workers in ways different from outside workers, but the results are the same: possible heat-related illness, dehydration, crankiness and worsened mood. Taking these preventative measures and being prepared for the summer months can help you increase the chances of a peaceful, efficient office.
Keeping a clean office also helps keep everyone in a good mood – and can even help keep everyone cool. Dirty or dusty air vents don’t blow chilled air as effectively, for example, while a sticky and dingy fridge can be unappealing, making your chilled treats less enticing for your employees. Let Environmental Cleaning Services help with our full range of office cleaning services. We can make sure that your office looks great and functions well all year round. To learn more, give us a call today at 214-526-6814 to request a free quote.