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Are your employees brains melting?

by mel starrs on July 26, 2006

in Uncategorized

I’ve been waiting for months for the chance to use one of Hugh McLeod‘s cartoons and finally this one is apt:

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I’ve made the point already this summer about how peak temperatures can affect performance, but a comment from my dentist this morning (who noted that in the hot weather people made irrational decisions – I’m hoping he meant his patients rather than his staff!) and then this article from Management Issues meant I had a great excuse to use Hugh’s cartoon. From MI:

“Bosses who fail to adopt the cool work approach risk damaging their firms’ productivity as their employees wilt in the heat.

Although there is no statutory maximum temperature in the UK, CIBSE Guide A (2006) in table 1.8 (section sets the benchmark for summer peak temperatures and overheating for offices at 28ºC for no greater than 1% annual occupied hours. For an office which is open from 8am till 6pm for 51 weeks of the year, Monday to Friday only, this equates to 25.5 hours. Assuming the peak occurs in the middle of the day from say 1pm till 4pm (taking into account BST) this is 8.5 days. Our current heat wave has lasted longer than this – going on the CIBSE benchmark, many of our current “naturally ventilated” building stock are failing us. In some instances, sensible replacements of windows or adding external shading could alleviate the problem, without adding in-use carbon to your building’s footprint.

Interestingly, naturally ventilated offices general comfort temperatures are quoted as 25ºC in Guide A. This is made on the basis that people will be wearing suitable clothing. There is an interesting comparison to be made between a suited and booted employee in a corporate air-con HQ and the employee who is able to wear shorts and t-shirt.

A guy wearing shorts, t-shirt and sandals who experiences optimum comfort at 25ºC would need the temperature to drop to 21.85ºC if he was wearing socks, shoes, shirt, trousers and jacket – just over 3ºC (figures taken from CIBSE Guide A Table 1.3). No figures are given for ties, but they can’t help!