How to Stay Warm in the Office

As winter draws in, keeping yourself warm during the day is vital for your health and well-being. But if you have to go to the office and can't control the temperature, how can you do this? Whether the heating is broken, you pulled the short straw and sit by the drafty window, or you naturally get cold easily, there are ways you can keep yourself warm and comfortable whilst you're in the office. And as an employer, there’s ways that you can ensure your employees are comfortable and happy.

What's the Legal Requirement for the Minimum Office Temperature?

It might come as a surprise, but there is actually no legal minimum for workplace temperatures. However, the government guidance does state that the temperature must be "reasonable" and suggests a minimum of 16°C (or 13°C for those doing physical work).

Health and Safety law at work does state that the temperature must be kept at a "comfortable level".  So, employers do have a responsibility to ensure employees are not freezing.

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How to Stay Warm in the Office – Tips for Employees

For you, you might find that 16°C minimum still feels a little too cold as you work. We are all different and feel comfortable at different temperatures. In fact, research has shown that women feel the cold more than men, so there's even a gender difference here. If you are feeling the cold, here are some ways to keep warm in the office:

1. Bring Layers

The simplest thing you can do to stay warm at work is to bring plenty of layers. Have a comfortable base layer, and then, if you are cold, add additional layers throughout the day. If you get too warm later, you can remove some of the layers. Think jumpers, hoodies and sweaters that you can grab easily when you feel chilly.

2. Have Warm Accessories

Whilst we're talking clothes, don't forget to bring some warm accessories to the office too. Scarves and hats will help to provide you with some extra warmth. Fingerless gloves will allow you to still type but help to keep your hands warm.

3. Bring Slippers or Warm Socks

Feet can get cold easily. And if they got damp on the way into work, sitting with wet feet all day will make this worse. So be prepared and have some slippers or some fluffy bed socks at the office for you to change into.

4. Be Active

Sitting at your desk all day will only make you cold. So, make time for breaks to move. You can do some easy stretches, simply walk around the office, or even go up and down the stairs a few times. Just a few minutes of movement will get the blood pumping and generate some body heat.

5. Rehydrate with Hot Drinks

Hot drinks can help you warm up in a few ways. Holding a warm mug can help warm up your hands, and then when you drink them, you get warmed up from the inside out. And you don't have to worry about hydration, as hot water is as hydrating as cold water. So, whether you drink tea, coffee, hot chocolate, or warm lemon water, you'll still be getting that hydration fix. In fact, there are plenty of benefits to drinking hot water.

Why not treat yourself to something a little different? Put a little bit of chopped ginger, a squeeze of lemon and a bit of cayenne pepper into a mug and then fill with hot water. This delicious drink has a nice little kick and helps you to really warm up.

6. Take Warm Snacks and Lunch

Having warm food can help to keep you warm. So, think of warming and hearty soups and stews for lunch instead of that cold sandwich when deciding what to take for lunch. You can also take snacks that can be warmed up too; cuppa soups and pot noodles are great for this.

7. Invest in Hand Warmers

Reusable USB hand warmers are great for keeping your hands warm throughout the day. Make sure you keep one charged up on your desk; then, when your hands feel cold, you can give them a warm-up with it.

8. Keep a Blanket at Your Desk

There's nothing better than a cosy blanket when you're feeling cold, right? So why not have one in the office for when you start getting chilly? Wrap your legs up in the blanket if you're getting cold at your desk, or wrap it over your shoulders. Just make sure it's small enough to be packed away! For extra warmth, why not bring an electric blanket to the office?

9. Bring a Hot Water Bottle

As long as you have access to hot water, a hot water bottle can really help to keep you warm. Whether you hug a hot water bottle to warm your core or use a hot water bottle as a footrest, you'll soon chase that chill away.

How Can Employers Ensure the Office is Warm?

Although there is no legal minimum temperature for an office, employers do have a duty of care to their staff, and so you need to ensure the office is at a "comfortable" temperature. Whether your heating is working or not, some offices (especially open-plan ones) just feel cold.  Here are some ways you can ensure your office is as cosy as possible to keep your employees comfortable and happy:

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1. Invest in Good Curtains and Blinds

Ensure your curtains and blinds are open during daylight hours to make use of the sun's heat. But as soon as it starts going dark, shut your blinds and curtains (or encourage your staff to). These will then provide a layer of insulation that helps to keep the heat trapped in the office.  The better quality blinds and curtains you have, the better the insulation.

2. Move Furniture Away from Radiators

Don't have sofas, desks, bookcases, or any other item of furniture in front of radiators. These will block the flow of warm air, making heating the office less efficient.  Even if you just leave a few inches between furniture and radiators, you'll make it easier for the room to heat up.

3. Install a Boiling Tap

Make sure your staff have hot water for brews and hot water bottles by installing a boiling tap. This will ensure they don't have to wait around for the kettle to boil and have access to instant hot water when needed.  Not only that, but they are more energy efficient than kettles, and so will reduce your carbon footprint. In fact, there are lots of benefits to hot water dispensers. Investing in a hot and cold dispenser, one that dispenses both water types, is great all year round so your staff can enjoy chilling beverages or ones to warm them up. And because ours are mains-fed, it also makes your office more sustainable as it takes the water straight from your pipes.

4. Invest in Heated Items

For those employees that really feel the cold, why not supply some additional heated items? Portable heaters are great for giving a little extra warmth in a small space. You could even supply heated chairs or heated footrests to help your staff combat the cold.

5. Stop Draughts

Cold draughts can really make the temperature in a room drop. And for those seated near the draught, this can make them very uncomfortable. So, ensure your windows seal properly, and get colleges to close doors. You can even invest in draught blockers for windows and doors that aren't used throughout the day.

6. Invest in Underfloor Heating

It may be a big expense, but investing in underfloor heating can make a big difference to keeping your employees warm. No one's happy when they have cold feet, and underfloor heating can combat this. Not only that, but the heat will rise and help make the room warmer, meaning you have happy, comfortable, productive staff.

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7. Install a Smart Thermostat

A smart thermostat will give you better control over your office temperature. You can set when the heating comes on and goes off, as well as the temperature. Set it so that the office starts to warm up before your first employees arrive so that way they're comfortable as soon as they get to work. Smart thermostats will also monitor the temperature, and you can control this remotely.

Staying warm in the office is important for employees, and it's not just their responsibility. As an employer, you should be providing a "comfortable" place for them to work, and this includes the temperature. As an employee, you can make your space a little more comfortable too, especially if you get colder than others in the office. You can find more tips for making the office a comfortable place to work in our blog.

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