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There’s nothing worse than feeling lethargic and irritable while you’re trying to get work done.
But even with the availability of air conditioners and fans, 25% of employees say their office is too hot, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey. And 70% of workers think this negatively impacts their productivity.
If your office manager is unable or unwilling to adjust the thermostat, there are a few counterintuitive strategies you can use to keep cool in your sweltering office. At the very least, they may draw attention to the situation:
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Drink hot coffee or tea
Hot coffee is king in Brazil, a country that surrounds the equator, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a café willing to sell you iced coffee there. Could the locals also be onto something?
Some researchers think so.
According to Ollie Jay, a researcher at the University of Ottawa’s School of Human Kinetics who has studied hot fluid ingestion’s effect on body heat storage, drinking hot coffee or tea will result in a lower amount of heat stored inside your body as long the additional sweat you produce can evaporate.
“What we found is that when you ingest a hot drink, you actually have a disproportionate increase in the amount that you sweat,” Jay told Smithsonian. “Yes, the hot drink is hotter than your body temperature, so you are adding heat to the body, but the amount that you increase your sweating by – if that can all evaporate – more than compensates for the added heat to the body from the fluid.”
While your neighbors may not love you for it, increasing how much you sweat is an effective strategy for staying cool. When sweat evaporates from your skin, energy is absorbed into the air, and this cools your body significantly.
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Eat spicy food
“It’s commonly thought that the hot drinks raise your core temperature, but we found that that isn’t the case,” Jay also told Smithsonian. “What we think is that it’s the thermosensors that line the throat and mouth that elicit the additional sweating response.”
And, as it turns out, those thermosensors can be triggered by more than hot liquids.
As Peter McNaughton, a neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge, told NPR, the same receptors that respond to hot heat also respond to chemicals in chili peppers. So eating a spicy curry for lunch will cause you to sweat more, thereby cooling you down.
Even if you company has a no-work-from-home rule, during the hot summer months you may still want to ask if you can work remotely – from the lobby.
If you work on the 8th floor (remember that heat rises) in a room full of computers (each of which generates heat) and people (who also generate heat), it’s fairly likely that the journey from your downstairs lobby area to your office is like changing temperate zones.
If your lobby has couches or chairs and wi-fi and you have a laptop you can work from, you might be better off working there during the hottest times of the day. Technically, you’re still at work, even if your boss can’t see you.