The dog days of summer are coming to a close, and this year we’ve survived another round of sahara heat waves. Hopefully, your small business suffered little or no negative impact due to the high temperatures.
To beat the heat next year, it’s a good idea to consider today how you can be better prepared. Let’s take a look at both practical and technological tips for keeping your business productive and, more importantly, your employees safe during summer days.
Even if your office or building is air-conditioned, the work commute can still put your employees at risk during heat waves, according to Donna Childs and Dr. Stefan Dietrich, co-authors of Contingency Planning and Disaster Recovery: a Small Business Guide.
Childs and Dietrich explain that during high temperatures a car break down or delayed and crowded subway trains can take a toll on vulnerable employees. Added to this, the chances of blackouts and outages are high because of the strain on power grids with everyone blasting their air conditioner. The authors recommend that during extreme temperatures, it’s better to err on the side of caution and encourage telecommuting, or giving staff the day off.
If the office has to stay open, encourage workers to wear lightweight, loose fitting clothing. You may want to consider extending Casual Friday wear to hot summer days also.
You also need to be mindful of your IT assets during a heat wave, since office equipment need to stay cool too. Childs and Dietrich recommend “quarantining” computers until is possible to verify their cooling fans function properly, and moving computers to air conditioned rooms for the duration of the heat wave.
Office equipment like servers, monitors, printers and copy machines give off heat. Your air conditioning units have to work harder to fight off the outside temperatures and the excess heat coming from equipment. Consider replacing old equipment with ENERGY STAR products. You’ll lower office heat levels, save money on power, and be a good steward of the environment.
If you conduct business outdoors, without the comforts of air conditioning, you have to work extra hard to manage the heat. Outdoor work in the summer is truly for the fit and hardy, and you should avoid putting employees with medical conditions at risk.
Even for your employees that can handle the heat, ensure there’s an available supply of drinking water, provide cool areas for rest and recovery, and implement a productive work-rest regime so workers always have a chance to cool down. If you’re into gadgets, outfit your employees with personal cooling systems, like CoolWare by Sharper Image.
Great planning can really help you manage your business during hot summer days. Review the weather forecast for the week and do your best to schedule heavy work and tasks for cooler days, or cooler parts of the days, like early morning. (Get help with The Weather Channel app for your iPhone or Android smartphones.)
Also, use technology and mechanical equipment to lessen physical demands. Think of communication devices (like mobile phones and two-way radios) and transportation vehicles (like the Segway) to reduce unnecessary walking or exposure to sun.
Summer heat waves can be unbearable. But being prepared can help you keep your cool so your business keeps running.
(Photo credit – Reprolurch)