How to work from home during a heatwave

Working from home may seem like the perfect solution to cope with this heatwave – but is it?

As the UK heatwave reaches new heights, Brits are starting to worry about the effects of the hot weather and are looking to stay inside as much as possible.

However, with double glazing, insulation and carpeted floors, most of our homes are built to keep the heat in.

It’s clear they aren’t designed for the hot weather.

But spending hours commuting into the office on sweaty and stuffy public transport, or stuck in traffic, doesn’t seem appealing either.

So, without the office AC, how can we keep cool? 

Change up your hours (if you can)

‘If your job allows you to, change up your working day,’ suggests Michael McCreadie, co-founder at Myles Wellbeing. 

‘Ask your boss if you can start as early as possible to be as productive as possible before it gets too hot, have a break (like a Spanish siesta) in the afternoon when the sun is at its highest and finish your work in the early evening.

‘This will mean you’re not trying to complete a difficult task during the hottest part of the day when it’s hard to concentrate.’

Michael also suggests altering your workload. 

‘If you can, and you don’t have too many looming deadlines,’ he says, ‘push the tasks that are going to require the most brain power to Wednesday onwards when temperatures cool down. 

‘This will make sure you’re doing your best work and not in a heatwave-induced brain fog while working on a very important presentation.’

Ditch the layers

If you’re not going to be on a video call, why not strip off a little?

However, Michael does warn that ‘it’s important to stay professional if you work in a job where video calls are expected.’ 

He suggests wearing loose-fitting cotton clothing to ‘keep yourself as cool as possible without getting a call from HR.’

And definitely don’t wear socks – let your feet breathe.

Stay hydrated

‘With the warmer weather, it’s important for everyone to keep hydrated,’ says GP and medical director of Cosmedics, Dr Ross Perry. 

He adds: ‘Drink consistently throughout the day and have at least eight glasses of water a day. And always have a bottle of water with you if you’re travelling around. 

‘Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to reach for a drink but keep fluid intake up and steer clear of caffeine or sugary drinks, which can make you feel more dehydrated.’

Sarah Almond Bushell, a dietitian and children’s nutritionist, also adds that ‘only drinking water to prevent dehydration is a myth; squash, juices, herbal drinks are all perfect hydrators too.’

She also says that we should ‘choose foods with a high water content like salads, fruits and vegetables.’

‘Lettuce, tomato, cucumber, watermelon and strawberries are super hydrating,’ Sarah explains.

‘They’re less filling, full of vitamins and minerals (to replenish what you might lose via sweat) and also great for hydration.

‘If coffee usually gets you through the day, it’s time to swap it for peppermint tea. 

‘Caffeine acts as a diuretic meaning it makes you pee, so it can actually dehydrate you, whereas menthol, commonly found in peppermint tea, makes us feel cooler by increasing blood flow.’

Keep the blinds down and curtains shut 

‘It’s natural to want to make the most of natural sunlight,’ says Yvonne Keal, a senior product manager at Hillarys.

‘But during a heatwave, it’s best to keep your blinds and curtains closed during the hottest time of the day to ensure as little heat as possible is entering your home.

‘This is especially true for south-facing home offices, as they are naturally exposed to more sunlight and can experience higher temperatures inside. 

‘Not only will your home be cooler, but you are less likely to experience glare on your screens too.’

Fitness, wellness guru and nutrition expert Penny Weston – who runs the Made Wellness Centre in Staffordshire – explains that keeping the curtains closed will help keep the room cold.

She says: ‘It may seem counterintuitive, but it is a good idea to close curtains on rooms that face the sun to keep the rooms cooler. Sometimes it can be a lot warmer inside than outside, and you don’t want your room to absorb any more heat.’

‘Blocking out the sun is the best way to keep rooms cool. Hanging a wet sheet in front of an open window will also help bring down the room’s temperature and help you to concentrate on your work.’

It is also a good idea to change up where you work or set up your home office in the coolest room of your house – this is usually the opposite room to where the sun is facing.

Cool your pulse points 

Placing ice or cold flannels on key points of the body (known as pulse points), where the circulation is closest to the skin’s surface – such as the back of the neck, wrists, and ankles – can help reduce body temperature and cool us down.

‘Our ankles and feet have lots of pulse points, so it can also really help cool your whole body down if you put your feet into an ice bucket for a while,’ Penny suggests.

‘You can do this while you are working. ‘

Bring the air-con to you

If you find your fan just blows hot air around the room, and a portable air-conditioning unit is too expensive, why not make a DIY AC by placing ice packs of frozen bottles of water in front of the fan?

Just make sure to keep an eye on it as the ice will melt. Try putting a towel below the packs or bottle to avoid damaging your furniture.

‘It can also help to place a bowl of water with ice in it in front of a blowing fan in your room, as the fan will pick up the cool air coming from the surface of the ice,’ Penny says.

However, if you’ve not managed to get your hands on a fan to create your own air-con, Michael suggests freezing a towel or a flannel to rest on your pulse points (back of your neck, temples and wrists) to keep your body temperature down.

Turn off appliances

Yvonne says: ‘Ensure that any appliances you won’t be using in your home office are unplugged, as they tend to generate a fair amount of heat.

‘Appliances left on standby, such as laptops and your TV, can emit heat, so turning them off will not only cool your house down but also save you some money on your electricity bills too, which is an added bonus.’

Also keep your laptop off your knees, suggests Kellie Whitehead, the UK Director for TishTash.

She says: ‘The extra heat isn’t worth it – keep a good space between you and any devices that are on charge where you can.’

With temperatures already reaching sweltering levels outside, many people will be dealing with overheating laptops and PCs while trying to get work done, either in the office or at home, says Alan Gilmour from EuroPc.

‘To avoid this, try cleaning your device’s air vents, not using your laptop on your lap (as your legs will block the vents), staying out of direct sunlight, and, if overheating still seems to be an issue, purchasing a small fan to place on your desk and point toward your device,’ he tells Metro.co.uk.

‘Collectively, this should keep your laptop and PC running at an optimal temperature and allow you to work without a de facto radiator in front of you.’

How to keep good Wi-Fi connection while WFH in a heatwave:

Gemma Ratton, from Virgin Media O2, offers tips on maintaining a good Wi-Fi connection while working at home during the heatwave. She says:

Assess your lighting

Dr Shelley James suggests using sheer curtains to cut down glare and reduce solar gain and heating but recommends against spending all day in a dark room as our body clock needs ‘a clear difference between daylight and darkness at night.’

She also suggests that ‘cooler light’ such as blue light can ‘literally make us feel cooler.’

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