7 ways to cope with hot weather when you work from home

Summer is here. The birds are singing, the grass is rampant and the temperatures are rising. Joy, joy, joy.

Well, not if you work from home like me. Weekends are wonderful but my working week is dominated by the heat. My husband moans about how cold the air conditioning at his office is, while I melt as I type away at home.

So, how do you cope if the weather is gloriously hot but you're a home-based worker?

Stay hydrated

I'm a big coffee drinker but in this weather that amount of caffeine really doesn't help. In hot weather, I limit myself to a mug of coffee first thing (for me that's around 6.00 am before the rest of the household stirs). After that, I stick to water.

Now I know what you're saying, "water is boring". I can't completely disagree with you there. It doesn't taste of anything. I add a little variation by dabbling in sparkling water on occasion, and if you like you can add a dash of lemon juice, but it's the water bit that's good for you.

Squash, pop (that includes cola of any variety), and fruit juice may be tasty but they're not going to help you in hot weather. Stick to the water.

If you really can't stand the blandness of water and desperately want something tasty, then opt for a piece of juicy fruit like an orange or a piece of melon.

Let in the air

Open the windows and let in the summer air. There's a proviso to this though. Only open the windows if the air outside is cooler than the air inside. If opening the windows means that you let in the summer heat, don't do it.

There's something else to bear in mind if you open the windows - hayfever. The older I get, the more I suffer with hayfever. My eyes leak and hurt, and my nose gets stuffy and itchy (not to be confused with Itchy and Scratchy - my children force me to watch way too much of The Simpsons).

If you do open the windows, and you're a hayfever suffer, make sure you take your antihistamine first. There's nothing less conducive to working at home then not being able to see or breathe.

If you can't open the windows, then invest in a fan. I say 'invest' but they can be bought quite cheaply from supermarkets or online. You could even buy a USB fan to attach to your computer, or a handheld fan if you have a free hand to, er, hand.

We are a multi-fan household - one in the lounge, one in the den and another in my husband's office.

Dress for the weather

One of the joys of working from home is that, for the most part, I don't have to meet people face-to-face. The school run unfortunately denies me the chance to remain in pyjamas but, to be honest, that never really appealed to me anyway.

I normally live in t-shirts and jeans. That's my work from home wardrobe. In this heat though, I rediscover my legs by swapping the jeans for cropped trousers and skirts.

Many home-workers still have a client-facing element to their job so obviously you'll need to be smarter for that but when you're at home, dress in lightweight clothes, preferably made from cotton.

Work in the coolest part of your home

You may have a study or you may work from your kitchen table. In hot weather, are they a cool place to be or a hot-house?

If your usual working space is too hot to handle, then relocate. Maybe the kitchen has a stone floor that is a delight to walk on in bare feet in the summer. Set up there. Is your bedroom cooler than your office? Is the couch a blessed retreat from the heat? It might even be that there's a shady space in the garden that will serve.

Don't feel that you have to suffer the heat in your normal work space. Who knows? Moving to a new spot may inspire your work in some way. New surroundings breed new thoughts.

Change the hours you work

Not everyone has the luxury of setting their own hours but if you do, and working 9 to 5 is unbearable in the summer heat, then consider moving your working slot.

Could you get up earlier before the heat sets in? Could you move your work to the evening, when the heat has begun to dissipate?

Could you space out your work, a little before your normal work slot, and a little after, to enable you to take more breaks?

Don't feel that you have to slog on through the heat when there may be an alternative.

Get a good night's sleep

Now, I know that it isn't always easy to sleep when your home feels like a greenhouse but do your best to get a decent amount of sleep.

We all know how damaging sleep deprivation can be to our health and our ability to operate. Most of us know the tips for sleeping well:
  • a cool room (practically impossible in this heat)
  • no caffeine after lunchtime
  • no food close to bedtime
  • switching off the TV and other screen devices an hour before bed
  • reading a book before bed or having a bath
  • drinking a glass of milk.
None of this is new to us. In hot weather, we just have to work harder at it.

Hot weather in itself can make us feel drowsy, as can some antihistamines. Help yourself by getting a good night's sleep.

If the worst comes to the worst and sleep evades you, then try to fit in a cat nap during the day.

Finally, run free

It's summer, the perfect time to throw off that heavy coat, eat ice cream and walk in the park.

Don't feel you have to huddle inside your home, blinking out from the shadows at the sunshine beyond.

Get out there. Work in the park. Take your lunch break in a pub garden.

Enjoy the summer, and the sun, and the chance to wear sandals or shorts or whatever takes your fancy.

Home-workers deserve a summer too.


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