Unfreezing work: Extreme temperatures in winter
There is no doubt that winter is well and truly here, with temperatures plummeting into the minuses across the country - even down to a record -15.7°C in some areas.
Following the heatwaves of the summer, it seems that extreme temperatures in the UK are here to stay - and must be addressed by businesses if we have any chance of unfucking work.
Lack of laws
The UK has a distinct lack of legislation when it comes to how employers should manage in cold weather, with the responsibility unfairly put on employees to voice any concerns about a drop in temperature.
Employers should of course be doing as much as possible to ensure that workers are able to stay warm enough to be comfortable, however beyond guidelines, this is left up to interpretation.
Not only do employers have a duty of care to staff in a physical workplace, they also need to be mindful of how cold weather can affect their people at all stages of the working day - including commutes.
Public transport disruption is always an issue in extreme weather. But coupled with the bouts of industrial action the UK rail network is experiencing, journeys to work can be seriously difficult, if not impossible.
Hazardous road conditions mean that those who would normally drive may not be willing or able to do so, with the cold weather causing havoc and presenting very real safety concerns.
Cold weather can spell serious danger for drivers.
Cost of living
While the pandemic opened up a whole new culture of home-working, this may not be the answer this winter.
The cost of living crisis is squeezing everyone. In a time when money is tight, many people have to make the difficult and horrendous choice between staying warm and other necessities such as food.
Those working from home may be reluctant to put on their heating for fear of being hit with astronomical energy bills, instead suffering through the cold and potentially putting their health at risk.
Understanding the needs of workers is the key to unfucking work, and dealing with extreme cold is no different. Smart employers will understand that prioritising people’s safety and comfort during these periods is a necessity, not a luxury.
As well as ensuring a comfortable temperature in the workplace, employers should also understand the factors affecting their workers outside of the office.
Reviewing the necessity of commutes in extreme weather and giving flexibility around home-working where possible is a must. For those working from home, companies need to bear in mind macro-factors like the cost of living crisis, and provide tangible support where it is needed.