10 Tips for dealing with the heat when working from home

I’m not good in hot weather. If I’m supposed to be on holiday, I can just about deal with it, but my first thought about choosing a holiday destination is not about whether it’s going to be hot.

I’m one of those people who’s happy like a little kid when the first snowy snowflakes fall, and who complains when the temperature goes above about 27 degrees. Usually the people who can’t understand the latter take holiday to enjoy the hottest part of the summer, or they work in air conditioned offices, but now, with so many people working from home, the heat is affecting more of us.

This week was particularly hot, so I thought I’d get together some tips for working from home in the heat in case it happens again.

1. Do you have to work at your desk all of the time?

My office is one of our hottest rooms, but generally I do like to work there, even when it’s hot. It’s my working space. I have everything I need there. It’s definitely easier when I’m doing video conferences.

However, if I’m just reading or doing admin, I might choose to work somewhere else for a couple of hours if I think it will be cooler there.

Is there somewhere else in your house that might be a bit cooler for you?

2. Can you channel your inner tortoise during the hottest part of the day?

I know some people gave up completely last week, but you might not have that option. I didn’t. But when I was really hot and bothered, I tried to do things that would take less brain power.

We all have those things that need to be done – they might even be a bit boring, but you can do them without too much effort. For me it was designing templates for web pages and writing some website code. I had to pay attention, but it was fairly repetitive and it didn’t need much creative or social energy. I was maybe slower than on a day when I felt my best, but I was still productive.

Of course this depends on what you need to get done, and how much control you have over your own schedule. When I had meetings booked in, I did them as normal. But this is a way to make sure that you still get things done when you’re maybe not feeling your most energised!

3. The problem with fans

I do have a desk fan, but it wasn’t doing a lot of good to be honest. The best ones are those that also cool the air as it’s circulating, but most just push the hot air around. I have heard tips about putting a frozen water bottle or a bowl of ice in front of the fan, so the ice cools down the air before the fan pushes it out. I haven’t tried this, so I don’t know how well it works. But Always be careful with water and electricity!

4. Don’t forget to keep hydrated

It’s easy to get focussed on a task and carried away with what you’re supposed to be doing. It’s also easy to be lazy and think that going to get a drink of water will be more effort than it’s worth. But it’s really important to stay hydrated, especially during periods of hot weather.

I find that if I put a big glass of water on my desk, I do actually drink it. So I need to make sure I get into the habit of doing that.

I know other people use water bottles that show how much they have drunk, or apps that remind them to take a drink so they get enough water throughout the day.

I never forget to drink coffee, but it’s important to have the water as well!

5. Can you change your working times?

The idea of starting any earlier than I need to is painful – unless there is a meeting that I need to attend. Chances are, if you work for yourself, you’ve already got into a rhythm that works for you. But if you can start and finish early, or do two blocks of work either side of the hottest part of the day, this may make it easier for you to concentrate.

6. Other ways of cooling

I heard about someone who froze a hot water bottle and used this to cool off. I’d never thought of this, but I guess you could use cooling packs in the same way.

Less conventional ideas that we have discussed include a paddling pool, and one of those cooling mats that are intended for dogs!

7. open windows, closed curtains

There is conflicting advice about whether windows should be open or shut, but I’ve found that closed curtains to keep the sun out, and open windows to keep the air circulating are the best. Nobody wants to be stuck in a stuffy hot room with no air circulation.

8. Damage limitation

I know I get grumpy in the heat! Irritating people or situations become that little bit more irritating!

If someone or something is getting to you, step away from it for a while. Take a walk, make a cool drink, or do something else until you feel calm enough to respond rather than react.

I even asked S to read an email before I sent it off to see if I was being unreasonable. “It’s polite, but you can tell you’re annoyed” was what he came back with, so off went the email! Annoyed is fine, but unprofessional is not. If in doubt, give it a few minutes or get a second opinion if that’s an option.

9. The cooler evening

I’m not suggesting that people leave windows open overnight, or even in the daytime if it’s not safe to do so in an unoccupied room, but when it’s cooler, it can be good to let the breeze in and get the air circulating.

10. Clothing

I work from home full-time, and I never got on board with the “we’re working at home now so we can wear anything”. It depends on what you’re doing, whether you have any customer contact, and what your company’s dress policy is.

I don’t want my customers to see me in my fitness clothes or my bikini. But if you can wear something more loose-fitting, it will help you to keep cool.

Do you have any other tips? Let us know in the comments!

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