No one likes being at work during a lovely summer’s day - we all know the feeling of looking out of a window, wishing we were out with our mates or celebrating in the park with the rest of the nation - (really, it seems the population of the U.K. doubles in the summertime. Every park in the country is packed with people enjoying the sunshine!)
And whilst no one wants to be at work in the heat, workers in the hospitality industry might just have the worst luck - is there anything hotter than a kitchen in a heatwave? Kitchen staff will work up a sweat in the dead of winter, let alone in blue skies and 30+ degrees.
Whilst we can’t all jump in a pool to cool ourselves off - customers might not appreciate glistening waiters serving them their dinner - but, luckily, there are some tips and tricks we can do to keep ourselves just that little bit cooler whilst at work.
Water, water, and more water
Let’s start with the most important thing - water. Being hydrated is an easy way to feel cooler and shake off the heat. Busy workers will know the feeling of being run off their feet - a busy lunch service has got you going non-stop, and it’s only at the end of the day that you realise you haven’t taken the time to have a drink. Whilst you might get away with this at cooler times of the year, taking the time to drink during hotter periods is a must. Feeling drowsy? Have a headache? Dry mouth and eyes? Don’t put these signs down to working too hard. Dehydration is a very real thing, and the only way to combat it is by regularly drinking water. For forgetful readers, keep it in mind to drink a glass of water every two hours, that way you’ll easily keep hydrated. Once it’s in your routine, you’ll naturally seek out a drink.
Another handy way to use water to cool down is by using a spray bottle. By spraying just a little water on our faces, we can get rid of a lot of unwanted heat, and cool ourselves right down. Many sprays have a ‘fine mist’ setting, this means you can spray yourself without drenching yourself in water, great for cooling yourself off before going back to meet customers.
Wear light and breathable clothes
An easy change you can make to keep yourself cool is by switching to light and breathable clothes. Heavy fabrics like denim and wool are not doing you any favours in the hot weather - and it might sound a little obvious but you’d be surprised at how many people still rock their jeans in the hot weather!
We only need to look to our neighbours in hotter countries to see the kinds of fabrics better suited to the heat. Clothes made out of cotton, linen and nylon are much lighter, and more breathable, meaning hot air won’t be so easily trapped beneath your clothing, and your skin will be able to keep itself cool. Polyester and spandex are the least breathable clothes, so if you’re planning on wearing activewear to keep cool, avoid these materials.
Slip-on shoes are also great for keeping cool. For workers in the kitchen, they might want to consider wearing a cold, slightly damp towel around their neck. This is a great way to get a constant source of cool water, and it will do a great job of keeping your body temperature lower. Once the towel dries out, dampen it under a cold tap again and you’re good to go!
For Brigad users unfamiliar with an establishment, we recommend they check ahead to see what clothing is required before your mission starts. And for business owners, we recommend allowing workers to wear more suitable clothes in the hot weather. No one wants a drowsy workforce!
Take frequent, short breaks to cooler areas
In extreme heat it’s important to change our working habits - this means staying calm, working at a slower pace and taking frequent, although short, breaks. Chefs who’re overheating as they work over a grill should take regular breathers in a cooler part of the kitchen, such as the shade outside, or even in the walk-in fridge. 30 seconds is enough time for your body to better regulate your temperature, and it’s short enough that it shouldn’t affect your work. Workers and management should discuss this method before their mission starts, just to make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to taking a little extra time out to cool down.
Keep the fans on
Establishments should have a selection of fans to keep the area cool. Not only will workers feel the benefits of working in a cooler environment, but a cool space will also be attractive to customers in the summer heat. The difference in your restaurant, cafe or bar being cool could be a dealbreaker for many patrons. Keep the area cool and keep workers and customers happy.
Investing in a good selection of fans may just save businesses money in the long term. Fans are much more sustainable than air-conditioning when it comes to energy use. Research tells us that most household fans use between 25 and 75 watts. This means that ‘running a fan costs between £0.004 and £0.012 per hour. For a whole week’s use at 12 hours a day, this wouldn’t add more than £1 to your bills.’ Clearly, this is not an amount that would drastically affect a business - but, it could drastically change the conditions of the workforce! Keeping workers cool should be a priority this summer, not only for health and safety but because everyone works better when they’re not overheating.
Stay cool, stay safe
Whilst we all like to make the most of the sunshine, it's important to stay cool and stay safe. Take these measures to stay cool before you begin overheating - that way, you can avoid the nasty effects of sun-stroke, dehydration and becoming overheated. Make smart decisions today, and save yourself the trouble later, then you can enjoy the summer more in your time off.