By London Doctors Clinic’s clinical director, Dr Daniel Fenton, and HR director, Vicki Field
Finally, we’re in the middle of a long, hot summer like the ones we remember when we were kids. But now, whilst we may have a holiday planned to enjoy some of the sunshine, most of us have to commute and work in an office, which can be far from fun.
It’s a widely reported fact that there’s no legal maximum temperature in the office, although there is some noise in Trade Union and some political circles to amend the law in this regard. So, there’s no automatic right for employees to go home if it’s too hot.
Offices vary; some have excellent air-conditioning which ensures that the working environment is pleasant, whilst others can use the old-fashioned approach of opening windows or lowering blinds.
Before arriving at the office, employees may find the commute to work extremely uncomfortable in the current heat wave, particularly if using public transport. It was reported that temperatures on the London Underground exceeded 40 degrees this week.
Starting the day, hot, flustered and dehydrated as a result of the commute, coupled with a hot office can be really unpleasant, impacting productivity and motivation.
To appreciate how to help your employees, it is important to understand how and why the heat and the sunshine affects us:
Perhaps the most obvious symptom caused by the excess heat – we lose a vast amount of fluid through sweating, which leaves us feeling thirsty and fatigued.We will often find ourselves reaching for a sugar-rich soft drink or a cup of strong coffee to perk us and rehydrate. However, highly caffeinated drinks act as a diuretics. This effectively means they will make us frequent the bathroom more often, and actually worsen the dehydration. A glass of wine at a business lunch meeting will do the same.
- Heat Exhaustion
Prolonged exposure to the heat can precipitated heat exhaustion which may be characterised by: Heavy sweating, rapid breathing, nausea, a faster and weak pulse, light-headedness, feeling fatigue and heat cramps. Heat exhaustion is not life threatening but is certainly a key warning that you need to cool down to prevent progression to heat stroke.
- Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is the end result of overheating. Our internal temperature rises and creates confusion, drowsiness and can lead to seizures.
Whilst we worry greatly about avoiding dehydration and sun stroke, we often forget sun burn. The hot red, prickly skin condition created by too much sun exposure can make you extremely uncomfortable and certainly impact on the ability to focus at work. Lathering on a minimum of SPF 30 sun cream, with a high UVA Rating will help to protect the skin
So what can we do to help our employees cope with the heat?
On a practical level, ensuring that the office has a comfortable working temperature is a good start. If you don’t have aircon, consider fans or mobile aircon units.
Relaxing dress codes is also an option, although guidance should be provided to ensure that dress remains professional and appropriate for the environment.
Remaining hydrated in the heat is imperative, water should be readily available around the office. 2L of fluid is the normal recommended daily intake although during this heat wave, encourage employees to increase their fluid intake to 2.5 – 3L. And reminding them to steer away from tea, coffee and alcohol during the hottest periods of the day is also sensible
Keep sun cream and after sun in the office, perhaps near the refreshment stations, as a helpful reminder to stay sun-safe.
An excellent HR and management team will take careful consideration of their employees with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease and heart conditions. These employees are at higher risk of dehydration and more likely to be affected by the heat. Encourage a culture of regular water breaks, and ensure there are adequate places for employees with diabetes to test their blood sugar, and administer insulin, should they not wish to do so at their desks.
To help all employees, consider introducing flexible working hours – give your staff the option to select more relaxing start and finish times to help them avoid the rush-hour heat, or allow people to work from home to avoid the commute altogether when mercury levels rise to extremely high levels.
Finally, make it fun! Implement Ice-cream Fridays where the boss buys ice creams for the team or encourage employees to enjoy the sunshine during a team picnic lunch in the park.
Ahead of expected IPO, Deliveroo recruits Next’s Wolfson to board
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Deliveroo said on Tuesday it has beefed up its board ahead of an expected initial public offering this year with the appointment of Simon Wolfson, the veteran boss of clothing retailer Next, as a non-executive director.
The food delivery company said on Sunday it had raised a further $180 million from existing investors, including minority shareholder Amazon, in a move that values the business at more than $7 billion.
Deliveroo is set to hold an IPO in the coming months, in what would be the biggest new share issue in London for three years.
Wolfson’s appointment comes after Deliveroo named Claudia Arney as the company’s first chair in November.
Deliveroo founder and CEO Will Shu said Wolfson would bring “great knowledge and insight” to the board.
Wolfson has been Next’s CEO since 2001.
He is also a peer of Britain’s ruling Conservative Party, sitting in the upper house of parliament.
(Reporting by James Davey and Paul Sandle; editing by Sarah Young and Pravin Char)
Dollar drops as traders prepare for Yellen to talk up stimulus
By Tommy Wilkes
LONDON (Reuters) – The dollar dropped on Tuesday as investors prepared for U.S. Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen to talk up the need for major fiscal stimulus and commit to a market-determined exchange rate when she testifies later in the day.
The dollar’s fall came after a 2% rise so far in 2021, a gain which caught off guard many investors who had bet on a further decline following its weakness in 2020.
The dollar has been helped in January by rising U.S. Treasury yields and some investor caution about the strength of the global economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. But most analysts are sticking with their calls for a weaker dollar from here.
“On fiscal policy, Yellen is to suggest that the US `act big’ and make use of the low borrowing costs. On the dollar, it should be reiterated that the new administration is committed to the market-determined exchange rate. Both are in line with our weak USD outlook,” ING analysts wrote.
President-elect Joe Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus package.
The Wall Street Journal on Monday reported Yellen, who is appearing before the Senate Finance Committee, will affirm a more conventional commitment to market-set currency rates in her Senate testimony on Tuesday.
That contrasts with outgoing President Donald Trump, who often railed against dollar strength.
The dollar index, which measures the currency against a basket of other currencies, dropped 0.3% to 90.472, but it was still above the its more than two-and-a-half-year low of 89.206 touched at the start of this month.
With the dollar weakening, the euro gained, rising 0.5% to $1.2132.
The single currency was unaffected by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s facing a confidence vote to stay in office. The result vote is due after 1800 GMT.
More volatile and commodity-linked currencies, such as the Australian dollar, also benefited from the weaker U.S. currency, with the Aussie up 0.3% at $0.7707.
Rising commodity prices in recent months have boosted currencies of countries with large commodity exports, such as Australia and Canada.
“We continue to see scope for further gains in commodity-related currencies in the year ahead, which should benefit as well from the strengthening global recovery once vaccines are rolled out more widely,” said Lee Hardman, an analyst at MUFG.
Sterling rose 0.2% to $1.3620.
The dollar rose against the yen and was last up 0.3% to 104.02 yen, although still consolidating in a narrow range after reaching a one-month high of 104.40 last week.
Emerging-market currencies were mostly higher but were some way off recent highs.
(Editing by Gareth Jones, Larry King)
Creating a people-centric workplace centered on flexibility, experience and wellbeing
By Anne Marie Ginn, Head of Video Collaboration, Logitech EMEA
The light is appearing at the end of the long, dark tunnel that has been 2020. With vaccination schemes now underway, we can (albeit cautiously) dare to dream of a general return to relative normality. Yet in the wake of the pandemic, neither our personal liaves nor our work lives will ever be quite the same.
A wholesale change to working practices, and the nature of how and where we work, is set to be one of the big lasting legacies of 2020. Cal Henderson, co-founder of Slack, recently came forward to say he thinks that the age of the office is coming to an end. In a less extreme view, AWS’ CEO Andy Jassy predicts we’ll see the rise of ‘hot offices’, where employees will mostly work remotely, only coming into the office when they need to work on specific projects. And Microsoft founder Bill Gates predicts the age of business travel is over, with only 50% of business trips set to resume.
As the office evolves it’s clear employers will have to adapt their spaces in line with new, post-pandemic wellbeing and workplace trends, and create an office centred around “super experiences” that makes it a destination in itself.
So, in what ways will working practices change, and how do we see the physical workspace evolving?
Re-focussing on the employee
Ultimately, the pandemic has re-focussed the discussion on how employees can best work, and how teams are spending their time. It has also given employers the opportunity to ensure they’re in a better position to help people find a good work life balance.
Yet even after Coronavirus, it’s clear we won’t be working from home forever. The UK government says work from home orders may stay in place until April 2021 and with this in mind a flexible, and hybrid, way of working is set to stay. Employees feel that way too – a recent Simply Communicate survey found only 2% want to go back to the full week in the office.
With the digital tools available and the experience gained over the past 10 months, the idea of everyone being in the office everyday seems old fashioned and unnecessary. People don’t want to travel into an office to then just be sat at their desk for eight hours. What they want is to connect with colleagues, to learn, to be inspired and to share with others.
Whilst getting your head down to work is important, social time and collaboration is equally valued, and central to general wellbeing. For many employees, their work is central to their sense of self, their meaning and purpose, and after a long period of being at home alone, they’ll be yearning for those in-person, face-to-face experiences. This should be placed at the forefront of modern office culture and design.
An office designed for the people working in it
Offices will become destinations unto themselves – for collaboration, innovation and strengthening team relationships – and less about desk-based or task-based work. The space should also be vibrant and different.
These offices should offer a mixture of meeting rooms and open operational space, which will promote gathering for teamwork, collaboration and companywide networking events. At the same time, smaller collaborative working areas, enabled by video, will facilitate break away group work for those both physically present and working remotely. Banks of individual cubicles will disappear, and instead we’ll see occasional, dedicated concentration pods for when employees need to get their heads down between meetings. And how about relaxation pods should employees want a quick break and recharge?
Beyond work, offices also need to become social destinations in themselves. A recent JLL study found that nearly half of employees hope their office will prioritise social spaces, such as coffee areas, lounges or outdoor terraces and gardens. Common areas play a central role in nurturing informal work relationships, which improve development opportunities and help career outlook – especially crucial for people early in their work life. These spaces allow employees to maintain the inspiration, energy and social connection that comes with belonging to a physical team and environment – something which many found a real challenge to maintain virtually during the pandemic.
Flexible schedules and shared spaces will also lead to a “rightsizing” of office space, where organisations will rethink their real estate, in what will undoubtedly save costs. Some are even predicting that we’ll see the creation of an office ‘ecosystem’, which will comprise of employees working from offices, houses, and third places such as cafes, coworking spaces, and libraries.
Tech and video as the glue for hybrid working
While all of the above will support flexibility, functionality and employee wellbeing, for it to all work it needs high-end peripherals, such as Logitech’s MX Series of high-performance mice and keyboards, and collaboration software to pull it together. This tech needs to help us and not take us away from people, helping our collective mental health in environments that could be potentially isolating.
This human centred approach to work collaboration requires non-intrusive, seamless video conferencing and productivity tools. Through each space in the office, from large town hall style areas, through to smaller huddle rooms, personal workspaces and even satellite offices in the suburbs, these video solutions and smart productivity technologies can help to bring together a team as one.
Fortunately, there are a wide variety of high-quality video tools available that can fit the needs of the modern worker within each individual environment. From large 4K cameras with the ability to pan, tilt and zoom to focus on an individual speaking within a large room, to wide angled huddle room cameras for smaller groups, and webcams with integrated high-quality microphones and optics to make sure remote workers are seen and heard just as clearly as if they were physically in the office.
The hybrid opportunity
The hybrid office presents itself with an opportunity to make work better for employees, while creating a more committed and motivated workforce. There’s also potential to save money through reduced office related overheads.
Tied together by smart technologies such as video, this hybrid office has the potential to make employees happier, more motivated and equipped to do their best work. Video will pivot from being the technology we used to survive during the pandemic to the one we use to thrive.
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