Productivity plunges as temperatures soar

Jul 04 2006 by Brian Amble Print This Article

With Britain basking in a heat wave and over a third of workers sweltering in offices without air conditioning, it is little surprise to learn that soaring temperatures can see productivity falling by nearly a quarter.

Although popular myth has it that the sun doesn't shine that often in Britain, recent spells of high temperatures seem to be putting a real dampener on workplace enthusiasm and productivity.

According to a survey of 1,500 employees by recruiter Office Angels, more than three quarters of Britons complain of working environments that stifle not only their creativity, but also their ability to get the job done.

More than a third of UK offices still don't have air conditioning, instead relying solely on open windows or fans.

But at the same time, nearly a fifth of employees say heating dilemmas cause confrontation in the office, with colleagues unable to agree on how hot or cold the temperature should be, complaining of arctic conditions with units set to full blast.

Eight out of 10 workers find it difficult to concentrate at work if the office temperature is higher than normal and nearly two-thirds of these say that in hot and steamy conditions a typical task may take up to a quarter longer than usual to complete.

To make matters worse, two-thirds of male office workers are expected to wear shirt, jacket and tie all year round Ė regardless of soaring thermometers - making sitting at a desk or travelling to meetings 'unbearable'.

Almost one in six said they had been reprimanded for wearing an unsuitable outfit to work in order to keep cool in the summer sun

Meanwhile, with the imminent arrival of the beginning of the six week summer school break, two-thirds of those polled (admitted to suffering from School Holiday Syndrome, an affliction characterised by acute 'seasonal procrastination'- the putting off of essential work tasks in favour of less taxing pastimes.

And with the high percentage of bosses on holiday during this time, half of workers admit to slacking off by arriving late into work or taking extra long lunch breaks.

"Despite recently experiencing one of the hottest July days on record it seems some employers are failing to get the basics right when it comes to keeping their workforce happy," said Paul Jacobs, Managing Director of Office Angels.

"Small gestures make a big difference - allowing staff to dress according to the heat, investing in fans where needed and even encouraging staff to leave on time to enjoy the summer sun, will mean employees are far more comfortable, relaxed and able to get on with the job in hand."