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British summer time

Sweltering in the latest heatwave? British summer is upon us and many of us will be struggling to stay cool at work, in the office, shop or other workplace. It goes without saying that we all want to stay at home, pop the lid on something cold and bask in the sunshine, but as small business owners, we know more than most that we have to make every second count if we want to maximise our incomes and keep our businesses growing.

So how can you stay cool at work? Here’s our suggestions. Not all of them will thrill your boss, but if you are your own boss, the sky is the limit! Have fun and apply the sun tan lotion!

Wear the right clothes
We all have those days when we’re not quite sure what the weather will do, and we turn up for work in a three-piece suit, or a jumper and a tank top and roast. To be fair however, you shouldn’t expect to feel cold in June. The first rule when you need to stay cool at work is: avoid any material that’s manmade, it will make you sweat. Choose cotton and linen. Cotton and linen absorb perspiration, helping you to feel cooler. It is also recommended that you choose lighter colours in a loose fit to keep the air circulating.

Avoid anything with lining and if you do have to wear a suit and tie, carry the jacket and tie around until you absolutely have to put it on. Women are far luckier in this regard but may be criticised for showing too much flesh (they can’t win). If you have a dress code, you will need to adhere to it, but make sure it’s fair for both men and women.

Create a cross-breeze in your office
Position a fan directly across from the window. This way a wind from outside will meet the air blowing from the fan, and together they’ll combine in a cooling cross-breeze. A match made in heaven.

Dig that breeze

If you can’t generate a breeze and the open window only brings in more hot air, you need to close them! Keep blinds and curtains closed in the office if you can, as this helps to prevent a greenhouse effect. If you work in an old building with sash windows, stay cool at work by opening them in equal amounts at the top and bottom as this will draw air through the room efficiently. Warm air exits the room at the top of the window, while drawing cooler air through the bottom.

Cool your pulses not your beans (see what I did there?)
If you’re overheating and need to cool down, you can chill out super-fast simply by applying ice packs or cold compresses to pulse points at the wrists, neck, elbows, groin, ankles, and behind the knees. No ice packs? Run your wrists under cold water in the bathroom, or head to the corner shop and buy an ice lolly. Might get a bit sticky though!

Turn off the lights
You are aware that light bulbs (even environmentally-friendly ones) give off heat. You probably don’t notice it so much until summer really hits the UK hard. If you’re working in an environment where you don’t need the lights on and you’re trying to stay cool at work, switch them off and make as much use of natural light as possible. Sadly, you can’t do this if you have a retail business I’m afraid …

Unplug everything
Disconnect as many electronic and gadgets as you can get away with. Maybe not the till if you work in retail, or the fridges if you own a café. Gadgets and other small appliances give off heat, even when turned off. Reduce total heat in and save energy by keeping plugs out of sockets when your appliances are not in use.

Keep hydrated
Have you noticed you’re not peeing enough? That’s because the heat is dehydrating you. Keep topping up your water bottle and sip it throughout the day. Being hydrated helps you to sweat, and that keeps you cool. Remember as a kid you would put a juice bottle into the freezer? You can still do that as a grown up! Keep bottled water in the freezer and it will stay cooler longer, allowing you to sip as it defrosts. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, you’ll just dehydrate further. (Although what are you doing drinking at work anyway?)

It’s not about the free lunch
If you’re trying to stay cool at work, you’re unlikely to want to eat anything hot at lunchtime, but general advice is to eat lightly of cool, room-temperature dishes such as fruit and salads. Your body creates metabolic heat when it’s breaking down food, so if you eat a large meal at lunch time you’ll heat up during the afternoon, and feel sluggish. Remember, while some foods feel cooling at the time, they don’t cool the body down (think cold drinks and ice cream). It is actually spicy food that can help cool you down, because chilli contains capsaicin, a compound that stimulates sweat production.

Buy a spray bottle
You can buy a spray bottle from a chemist, then all you need to do is fill it full of nice cold water and spray it over your face, for a refreshing cool down. If you’re feeling creative, you can buy rose water from a chemist cheaply too, and just add that to your water so you smell nice and fresh!

Keep cool on your commute
Rushing about and getting stressed will make you hotter. This is not a great look if you’re dealing with customers and clients. It’s your business and you want to make a good impression, so leave home earlier and make your way into work in a leisurely fashion. This will give you ample time to get ahead of yourself allowing you to breeze through your day, as cool as a cucumber.

Stay cool on your commute

Keep your baggage down
As far as possible, unless you’re a sales rep, keep the amount of baggage that you’re carrying to a minimum. When you’re caught in a heatwave, it is amazing how much more everything in your bag suddenly weighs!

You’re your own boss, you get to choose!
If all else fails, I propose you buy a big paddling pool and set it up in the middle of your work environment and invite everyone – colleagues, clients and customers – to join in. This is Britain, you know it’ll be raining again within a few days, and the rain always helps us stay cool at work!

Over to you
How do you stay cool at work? Tell us in the comments below, or join the discussion on Facebook.

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