Too Hot To Handle? – Why The Heatwave Is Damaging Workplace Productivity
With the Met Office warning that parts of Britain may be hotter than the Sahara this week, we’ve been wondering how the heat can affect our brains functioning at work.
Neurologists over the years have found there are many key aspects of our lifestyle that can influence our brains functionality. Some of these are more obvious, such as sleep, stress and diet. Others can be subtler, for example movement, cognitive skills, brain fitness and physical environment.
An important environmental factor that can impact brain productivity is heat. During the summer, consciously and unconsciously we seek out cooler environments which will regulate our internal body temperatures.
Whilst heat is an obvious environmental factor, it can also contribute to stress levels. Therefore, it is important that we manage this to maintain our brains performance at work. Heat will impact the brain by alternating between the left and right hemispheres rather than processing information simultaneously, causing you to process information slower.
So, how can you maintain a stable body temperature?
- Keeping water dispensers topped up and aiming to drink four to six glasses of water per day keeps the brain hydrated and affects overall brain health.
- Ensure blinds are on the windows. Avoiding working in hot areas or full sun will help you stay focused on your work instead of focusing on keeping cool.
- Structure the day so that staff are encouraged to take breaks and any physical, more taxing work is done in the morning or at cooler times of day.
- Consider reviewing your dress code policy in the warmer months if you have typically stricter guidelines. Allowing looser and more breathable clothing will help the skin cool down through perspiration.
Heat is not conducive to optimal brain functioning as it influences our productivity and effectiveness negatively at work. Other studies have also found patterns between heat and an individual’s mood, specifically influencing their mood negatively. This is why we should do as much as we can to stay cool and improve brain function at the same time.
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