Without a doubt, this has been an extraordinarily hot summer. The only question seems to be whether this is the hottest summer on record, and in fact, it just might be. According to CNBC, “In June, 164 high-temperature records were tied or broken in the U.S., while 262 daily high records for the Fourth of July were tied or broken.”
Just reading that sentence makes me want to go get some iced tea, which, if you think about it, is not a bad idea. After all, what else can you do to cool down? Well, it turns out that when Mother Nature cranks up the heat, there are more than a few things you can actually do to help yourself, your employees and even your business survive the summer heat:
1. Implement flextime: Of course there are businesses that have to be open from 9 to 5 (i.e. retail establishments), but there are probably just as many that can close during the hottest part of the day (i.e. manufacturers). And, while doing so makes sense, saves energy and maybe even saves the sanity of some of your staff, plenty of businesses fear that they cannot just shut down from noon to 3. What stops them from doing so? History, tradition and maybe fear, but those factors shouldn't actually prevent them from letting logic triumph.
By the same token, even if you can’t close the office during the day, it still may be smart to stagger schedules and give different people time off at different times of the day, so that no one person is stuck working in such stupefying heat all day long.
2. Cool it down: I have a pal whose boss refuses to buy air conditioners, despite the fact that it has been over 100 degrees there for a week. The boss keeps telling his unhappy employees that the heat wave is an “anomaly.” And of course, it is . . . until it’s not.
Aside from the obvious ways, here are some additional ways to cool down the office:
- Use thermal-backed curtains: Thermal curtains regulate a room’s temperature by blocking out the heat in the summer and keeping it in during the winter.
- Close the shades: Keeping the shades closed during the hottest periods of the day can reduce temperatures by up to 10 percent.
- Get a swamp cooler: In these devices, warm air is sucked into the unit and pulled through a water system, which significantly cools the air before blowing it back out. Swamp coolers, also known as evaporative air coolers, cost less to install and run than air conditioners.
- Reverse the fans: Don’t forget that you can always put fans in the window facing outward to suck the hot air out.
- Shut it down: Turn lights off or down and turn off computers and other electronics that are not being used, as they generate a substantial amount of heat.
3. Adjust the dress code: While just about everyone dresses more casually these days, work is still work. But with temperatures as high as they are this summer, it might behoove you to allow folks to dress “cooler,” as it were.
4. Be prepared: If you or your staff work outdoors, it is vital that everyone be equipped with the proper equipment: white or reflective clothing, plenty of water, hats, etc.
5. When summer gives you lemons, make lemonade (or ice cream): It is summer after all, so what about riding the heat wave instead of fighting it? By creating some seasonal-appropriate events, you give people a reason to enjoy work more. Why not buy an inexpensive ice cream maker and make ice cream, set up a lemonade stand, or take everyone for a drift in inner tubes down the river?
After all, before you know it, you will be reading an article about how to deal with all the snow. Do you have additional thoughts on how to beat the heat? Share your thoughts with the SBOC community below.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss