Tips for working from home in a heatwave

Air conditioning is one of the few benefits of working in an office that’s more difficult and expensive to replicate when you become self-employed. But if you’re struggling to stay productive in hot weather, our tips for working from home in a heatwave might help.

In general, freelancers tend to be adaptable and able to cope with challenges, whether they come from clients, new regulations, or the weather itself. If you have a clever lifehack for working when the temperature is sweltering, make sure to share it via our Creative Freelancers Facebook group, and we’ll add it to the list.


Change your working hours:

Not every freelancer has complete control of their working day, but even small changes can make a difference. Try to work at the times which are most comfortable, whether that’s earlier or later in the day, and then take a break when the temperature is highest.

There’s no point in forcing yourself to swelter at your desk if you’re being less productive, and your computer fans sound like a jet preparing for take-off.


Swap your location:

It’s easier if you work from a laptop than with a big desktop workstation, but if there’s a cooler part of your house or flat, then why not work from there? Even if it means moving around through the day, use the freedom you have.

And if you have access to a co-working space with an air-con, then make use of it. Just don’t be tempted to work outside. It looks great in lifestyle photos, but sitting in the garden means glare on your screen, a big potential for sunburn, and being distracted by next door mowing the garden or insect attacks. There are some rare freelancers who manage to be productive sat in a lounge chair by a swimming pool, but they’re the rare exception.


Take regular breaks:

Going outside in general is a good thing, as long as it’s for a break rather than work. If it’s cooler in a shady spot of your garden or a local park, use it as a chance to relax and recharge for a few minutes rather than a place to work. Turning your phone off for a short walk in nature will make you more productive when you’re back at your desk. And means you’re not squinting at emails or carrying a hot device around in your pocket rather than actually recharging your mind and body.


Tips for working from home in a heatwave


Change your wardrobe:

Ditching some layers is an obvious way to cool down. Just be conscious of Zoom meetings and delivery drivers turning up. At a minimum, ditching your socks will make a bit of a difference.

Covering webcams when not in use is a good general privacy tip, but even more helpful if you’ve decided to work in a state of undress to cope with the weather. Along with keeping an outfit nearby for emergencies.


Know when to open windows and curtains:

Keep curtains closed during the warmer parts of the day, and open them when it’s cooler, as long as you have enough natural light to avoid straining your eyes staring at your computer screen.

A similar rule applies to opening your windows, depending on what the ventilation is like in your home office.


Boost your fans for free:

A low-cost USB fan is a simple way to cool your home office if you don’t have the budget and space for something bigger. Or you’re moving around throughout the day, and need portability. Lots are available, and I’ve had this example on permanently each day for a couple of weeks now.

But if it’s simply blowing hot air towards you, freeze some water and place it between you and the fan to help cool the breeze towards you. Just keep melting water away from any electrical equipment, which also applies if your feet are in a bucket or bowl of cold water. Freezing a hot water bottle could be a safer alternative.


Don’t neglect your equipment:

When you’re investing in your own computer hardware, you want to look after it. Regularly cleaning your desktop PC will help the existing cooling work better and prolong the life and performance of your graphics card and CPU.

Cleaning the inside of a laptop is a bit trickier, so an easy way to help the internal fans, and also avoid scorching bare legs, is a cooling tray or pad. They vary in performance, but can make a significant difference to prevent overheating. And some are designed with space to prevent pillows, blankets or cushions covering vents if you’re working on a bed or sofa.


Unplug equipment which isn’t being used:

Chargers and other equipment will all generate small amounts of heat if they’re left plugged in and switched on when you’re not actually using them. And you’ll also be saving a little bit of money and the environment at the same time.

Most quality extension leads and similar equipment do have thermal cut-outs for safety, but switching them off or unplugging them not only helps to avoid overheating, and stops you rushing around in the event of a storm.


Change your diet and stay hydrated:

Having plenty of liquids in hot weather seems obvious and yet it’s easy to overlook when you’re caught up in work. A chilled water bottle on your desk is a handy reminder, and there’s a huge range of flavoured options for grown-up tastes these days if you don’t want to live on squash.

Besides filling your freezer with ice lollies, you can also eat more salads, with ingredients such as lettuce, cucumber and celery offering a higher water content. And cutting down on meat can help keep you cooler, although there’s a notable exemption for barbecues at the end of the week. But don’t skimp on meals if you’re not feeling hungry – just opt for something light and refreshing, and we’ve got some recommendations for healthy snacks.


Cool yourself with water as needed:

Certain points on your body have veins closest to the surface of the skin, and are most effective at helping you feel cooler. Splashing your wrist, neck, chest or temple with cold water, or applying a damp flannel or cloth will help you cope with the heat. Just don’t do it for more than 10-20 minutes at one time.

A bag of frozen vegetables can also be used. Just don’t do it for too long, otherwise you might end up with something missing from your meals. Or you can opt for a cold shower or ice bath, if you really fancy going full Wim Hof.


Tips for working from home in a heatwave Water


Make the most of the Summer slowdown:

Something which can add to the stress of working in hot weather is the fact that it usually happens during the Summer months. And freelance work can often slow down during this time, as clients may be off on holiday, etc.

Planning for this allows you to potentially spend time sorting out issues with your own business or on side projects. Or you can choose to use that space to catch up with family and friends, try a new hobby, or focus on your own mental and physical wellbeing.

Ultimately, if you’re self-employed, it’s down to you to make the most of your freelance summers, whether that’s taking time off, or adjusting your work routines to be more comfortable. Spending time outside will boost your creativity, and investing in some quick and simple ways to cope with warm weather means you can be just as productive without sweltering in front of an overheated laptop.