Top tips you need right now to stay cool while working from home in the heatwave

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We can't all be sunning ourselves in a Spanish villa this summer. Most of us aren't on Love Island, but stuck at home working. And while offices had air conditioning, sadly this isn’t a luxury most of us have installed at home.

(And let’s be honest heatwave’s like this – with UK temperatures set to reach a staggering 33C this week – aren’t that common.) But it is affecting our productivity and morale.

You may even be wondering what your rights are when it comes to working in extreme heat? And do we have to work at all? In fact, between the weekend and now, UK Google searches for the term "too hot to work" have jumped an enormous 1150%.

OK! spoke to Christine Macdonald, director of HR and management company The Hub Events, for advice on working through the 'wave.

“Many employees will be struggling with the heat this week – but the question everyone’s asking ‘Is it too hot to work?’ is a complicated one and difficult for HR to answer,” admits Christine.

“Whilst there are laws preventing staff from working in conditions that are too cold, when it comes to hot, conditions it is less clear. Temperatures inside buildings should be ‘reasonable.’ This means employees don’t have many rights when it comes to working in hot conditions. With that in mind though, there are some hacks to take on…"


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1. Change Your Hours

“Speak to your boss about changing your hours. This may not be possible, but managers have learnt to be flexible during the Covid-19 crisis, and working from home does allow for looser working conditions. If you’re really struggling to work during the day, see if you can work earlier – 6am before the sun really gets hot – or later, after 6pm when things start to cool down. Many managers will be flexible, especially if it’s only for a couple of days.”

2. Keep the Sun Out

“You’d think on a hot day, opening the house would help keep you cool, but the opposite is true. In hotter countries, they block the sun out during the day. Shut curtains and blinds to stop your home turning into a greenhouse. Open the windows first thing throughout the house to get the air out, and then close them and the curtains for the rest of the day.”

3. Freeze a Hot Water Bottle

“Freeze a hot water bottle overnight, and keep it by your feet during work-hours. That might sound weird, but cooling your feet is one of the quickest ways to bring your entire body-temperature down. Keep a cool flannel against your neck too.”

4. Go Easy on Yourself

“We all want to stay at our most productive, but try not to beat yourself up if you’re not working at peak performance right now. Putting aside the heat, we’ve all had an extremely stressful year – it helps to step back, take a little breather and get through what you can without causing yourself any extra stress.”

5. Quit Caffeine, Drink Water

“This might not be the advice you want, but stop drinking so much coffee – it’ll only raise your body temperature. Swap out for cold versions if you need the fix. Aim to drink more water. When you’re getting stuck into work, it can be easy to forget to drink. Set a timer on your phone if you really struggle.”

6. Rearrange Video Calls and Dress Down

“The benefit of WFH is that you’re not tied to workplace dress codes. Wear as little as you need to stay cool – if possible, rearrange calls for later in the week when the heat isn’t so bad. Remember everyone is in the same boat.”

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