How to work from home in (very) hot weather

The summer sun has arrived all of a sudden. The weekend was bliss with its lie-ins,  countryside walks and an excuse to chase the ice cream van. The working week, however, has turned into a sticky, sweaty challenge.

So, how do you cope with hot weather when you work from home?

Drink water – lots of it

Hands up, I admit that I drink far too much coffee and tea for my own well-being. It’s a terrible habit but I don’t think I’m alone in worshipping the hot beverages goddess.

When the weather is sweltering, though, caffeine-rich drinks can quickly dehydrate you, which in turn messes with your capacity to think (or in my case, create and get the words down). When I work from home in hot weather, I limit myself to one mug of coffee or tea in the morning, and drink water for the rest of the day.

I also avoid squash, pop and fruit juice because although they may be tasty, it’s the ‘untasty’ water that’s going to keep you hydrated and healthy.

Find water boring? I get a bit fed up with it sometimes myself, so I’ll swap still water for sparkling, or add a little lemon juice. Another option to alleviate the taste-boredom is to have a piece of juicy fruit in between your drinks of water. Melon is ideal.

Open the windows

I do my best to open as many windows as possible, and doors too, to get the air circulating around the house in an attempt to avoid creating hot spots. You know what I mean, where you walk into a room that has been closed off and the dry heat melts the skin off your face.

The downside to this airy, breezy solution, however, is where you suffer from hayfever, as I do. Take a regular antihistamine or, like me, face the possibility of being gorgeously cool but streaming and sneezing all over the place. I take the tablet form but the nose-spray version works much better for my husband.

What if you can’t open the windows? Maybe the passing traffic is way too noisy or there’s a security issue. Invest in a fan. They don’t have to cost a lot of money. It could be a desk fan, a tall fan that stands on the floor, a USB fan plugged into your computer or a handheld fan.

If you want to spend a little more, you can even buy an individual air conditioning unit these days.

Dress for the weather

I’m going to shatter any images you may have of me, or any other work-from-homer, spending our days in pyjamas. I’ve never done it, and I honestly don’t know any freelancer who has. Having said that, one of the joys of working from home is that I don’t often have to attend meetings so I can wear what I want.

My general working (well, living) uniform is t-shirts and jeans. In hot weather, though, I rediscover my legs. Jeans are put away, and  are replaced with skirts and cropped trousers.

Even where you do have a client-facing element to your job, smart clothes can still be lightweight and cool. Cotton and linen are especially ideal for the summer.

Work in the coolest part of your home

Where do you work at home? Office in the house? Garden pod? Kitchen table? When the weather is beyond hot, is your workplace lovely and chill or a mind-impeding hot-house?

If your usual working space is too hot to operate in, why not move to another location? If your kitchen’s stone floor is a delight to walk on in bare feet in the summer, work there. If your bedroom is cooler than your office, move in. Is there a shady patch in the garden that would be ideal to work from?

You never know, the new location may provide fresh inspiration too.

Work different hours

If you can set your own working hours, and the 9 to 5 slot is hampered by the summer heat, then why not work at a different part of the day or evening?

Could you begin an hour or a couple of hours earlier each day, before it gets too hot? Or maybe working in the evening would suit you more.

Stretching your working slot, to start earlier and finish later, could mean that you can take more breaks during the day.

Get enough sleep

When it’s hot on an evening, getting a good night’s sleep can be difficult but unless you can shift your work hours around, you probably don’t have the luxury of a lie-in or an afternoon siesta to catch up after a sleepless night.

Most people know how badly sleep deprivation can affect our health and exactly how to help ourselves get a decent kip, but these are the basics:

  • a cool room (open windows and a quiet fan – start cooling the room down as early in the day as you can)
  • no caffeine after mid-day
  • don’t eat just before bedtime
  • switch off the TV and all your screen devices at least an hour before bed
  • if you need to relax before you can sleep, read a book (an actual one – no screen devices, remember) or have a cool bath
  • drink a glass of milk.

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Hot weather doesn’t have to be a torment when you work from home. You just have to prepare and think ahead.

Enjoy the summer.

Image courtesy of Stanley Dai on Unsplash

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