Today has officially been the hottest day in the UK in July on record, with temperatures reaching 36.9°C.
With soaring temperatures and rail companies advising commuters to avoid travelling if possible, many office workers are feeling the heat.
As a result, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has urged bosses to offer flexible working “for the sake of their employees’ health”.
The hot weather can have strong effects on how productive the UK workforce, with heat stress causing a drop in concentration, fatigue and nausea.
Flexible working: The answer to the heatwave?
Earlier this week, Conservative MP Helen Whately introduced a flexible working bill in Parliament, calling for flexible working to be the default option for workers, rather than individuals having to request it. The high temperatures currently being experienced may add fuel to the campaign to make flexible working the norm.
There’s no law for minimum or maximum working temperatures, but employers should keep temperatures at a “comfortable level”. However, while many offices are air conditioned, those who work in manufacturing plants, catering establishments and warehouses may not have this luxury.
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Therefore, the TUC is calling for maximum working temperatures for indoor workplaces of 30°C (or 27°C for strenuous work), with employers required to introduce “cooling measures” if temperatures reach 24°C.
In addition to the high temperatures, this time of year means many parents may have to find childcare as schools break up for the summer holidays. According to Bright Horizons and Working Families, more than a third of working parents feel that flexible working isn’t available to them, despite all employees in Britain having the right to request it.
Furthermore, employees are increasingly calling for the option of flexible working to become the norm. According to a survey by ETZ Payments , 43% of Brits think that flexible hours are the most important thing to me when choosing a job, and 58% of Brits think that the most popular method of working in the future will be flexible working.
Nick Woodward, CEO of ETZ Payments said:
“Employers need to be malleable as temperatures soar in the UK making it hard for many people to work in a crowded office. Productivity will go down as a direct result of working in hot environments during the warmest hours.
“Our research shows that for many people flexible hours is more valuable than a pay rise and that for 43% of Brits it is the most important factor for them when choosing employment. This is especially pertinent for parents who have children to look after in during the summer holidays as childcare can be very costly.”