How does heat affect our workplace health? Well, quite a lot. We all know some people spend the year longing for summer, who flourish as temperatures rise and function at the peak of their abilities and enthusiasm during the central months of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere) or the final months (for those who are from the Southern Hemisphere).
Other people, however, suffer with the heat at its worst. Their body and psychological system become distressed, tense, and exhausted until they fall into a kind of summer depression as if their whole organism were unhinged. All they have left to do is dream of an autumn-winter season that always seems too far away.
Whether you are a pro-summer team member or a summer sufferer, the point is that you still have to go to the office at least once in a while (thank you, hybrid model!). You must keep performing, deciding, thinking, and spending time with your colleagues there. And the heat, whether we like it or not, doesn’t make it easy.
So, how does heat affect our workplace health?
Of course, we will not go into neurological or endocrine depths here about how heat affects our occupational health, i.e., what effect heat stress has on our transparency and professionalism. However, we all know that when intense heat hits homes, streets, and offices, the body knows it, and so does work performance. We’re sure we’re not telling you anything new when we mention these possible consequences of heat on your work:
1. Slower thinking
Heat slows down brain processes, and we notice this when interpreting information, making decisions, judging what is in front of us, and expressing the ideas we have in mind.
Yes, some people love summer, but no one is in a good mood when they feel like they are baking in an oven, have itchy skin, have to keep fanning themselves, and haven’t slept for several nights because of the heat. Our moods and intense heat do not go well together: beware of hostilities!
3. Frequent distractions
Getting up to fetch water, huffing and puffing, shrugging off our clothes, not quite concentrating, listening to the background noise from a fan or the air conditioning… If we are slower in our thinking, we lack concentration, i.e., spending more energy than we should avoid distractions.
4. General discomfort
Let’s not kid ourselves: heat is not pleasant. Not only do you have to get to work even if you woke up on the wrong side of the bed from a bad night’s sleep, but no matter what you do, it’s itchy, scratchy, hot, and uncomfortable. Working like this is not a great plan, and you must find a way to cope.
5. Lack of energy
High temperatures make us sleep poorly (that takes away energy), they make us eat less (that affects our energy), and they also affect our blood pressure by lowering it (that takes away a lot of energy). We feel heavy as if everything requires more effort, and it does. A little heat at work is okay, but extreme heat is not suitable for performance.
What’s the plan?
When we want to tackle the question of how heat affects our workplace health, the plan is that there is no plan. There are no magic wands to make heat waves disappear, to make up for lost sleep, or to have an office better conditioned for bad weather.
In short: sometimes things can get particularly hostile, for example, during the unbearable heat waves. On those occasions, you have to use your corporate wisdom to cope individually and as a team as best you can. To this end, we remind you of 5 essential things you should not lose sight of in your crusade against heat at work.
1. Use air conditioning responsibly and respect others.
2. Keep cool water and drink frequently, but be careful not to pour it on the keyboard.
3. Be more patient than usual. Remember that we all think more slowly in the heat.
4. If the room is not well air-conditioned, avoid the meeting.
5. Bring some ice cream to the office, guaranteed to make you everyone’s favorite employee today.
Improving emotional well-being in companies
Our mission is to increase employees’ and their companies’ well-being at work. That is why we want to help them in the challenge of creating pleasant work environments where they can express themselves authentically but not in a way that is invasive to others. At ifeel, we strive to achieve this.
Our team of psychologists, experts in well-being at work, has created an emotional well-being program for companies that boosts talent retention, reduces absenteeism, and tackles employee stress. Thanks to our emotional well-being program, your company’s HR managers can receive personalized, data-driven advice on improving their teams’ psychological well-being. In addition, this program offers employees a 360° mental health care service structured at different levels according to their needs. Try our program now to see how it could help you.
Visit our Resources section, where you will find podcasts, guides for Human Resources, or interviews with leading HR professionals. In addition, you will have access to a Psychosocial Risk Factors Template, which will help you comply with the Labor Inspection requirements.
We hope you found this post about how heat affects workplace health interesting. If you would like more information about our emotional well-being program for companies, simply request it, and we will contact your team as soon as possible.