Hot Topic: “Let’s talk about the weather”        

Whilst delivering our training I have run events in practically every environment you can think of. Huts, halls, hotels, hangars.

I’ll never forget that aircraft hangar, with aeroplanes flying above us every 4 minutes. The flow of the training was disjointed, to say the least!

And the conference where the client misjudged numbers. There was no room in the hall, it was summer so we moved our chairs onto the lawns and ran the sessions there. Unfortunately, one of the actors got mildly burnt as we were so involved in working with challenging logistics, including managing sound levels with no walls to hold our voices.

Which brings me on to the subject of the weather, and how it can impact on the workplace. Several large organisations, and smaller ones, have extreme weather precautions in place for themselves and their customers. We’ve all heard the warnings on train platforms in icy weather, and reminders to drink water in the heat of summer.

But how do your staff react to the variety of weather conditions thrown at them over the course of the year?

When researching our inclusion training programmes, the topic of open plan offices usually comes up. Who sits where? Who gets the window seat? Are they then in charge of whether the window is open or closed?

And everything in-between!

If you are largely based in one location, even if you hot-desk, the temperature, lighting, environment is paramount. Again, the official “advice” is more about common sense than a legal framework.

It goes without saying that managers who may not sit in the shared environment should put themselves in their staff’s shoes, to understand the issues and to help ensure the comfort of their workforce.

Talking of shoes, another topic that often comes up is the standard of dress. In the heat of summer some people’s attitudes towards appropriate attire will go out of the window. Men in shorts, women in strappy tops. Who decides what is acceptable?

As a subject area, dress codes and appearance at work are becoming more important in the workplace. This is partly due to a number of legal cases being highlighted in the media and uncertainties amongst employers and employees about what dress code is acceptable.

Employers often have a dress code in the workplace for many reasons such as health and safety, or workers may be asked to wear a uniform to communicate a corporate image. A dress code can often be used to ensure workers are dressed appropriately.

While employers are under no obligation to relax their dress code or uniform requirements during hot weather, some may allow workers to wear more casual clothes, or allow “dress down” days. This does not necessarily mean that shorts and flip flops are appropriate, rather employers may relax the rules in regards to wearing ties or suits. (Source: Acas)

Perhaps it’s time to revisit your Behaviour Standards Policy, and add something about clothes. Don’t forget to consider relevant protected characteristics such as race and culture, disability and religion or belief. Plus areas such as pregnancy and age (menopause springs to mind as a hot topic.)

How you feel physically is as important as emotions. Both managers and staff should focus on these to promote a happy, healthy, productive workplace.

For information on hot topics like Creating an Inclusive Workplace, or advice and guidance on updating your policies, contact me!   [email protected]