How to make the most of sunny days when you're stuck at work

Having to work during a heatwave is not a vibe.

It’s much easier to work when it’s wet and grey outside, and when the sun is shining in the pristine blue sky, the FOMO really kicks in.

It truly feels like a waste of a beautiful day when we are stuck inside working for most of it.

So how can we actually make the most of these sunny days while we at work?

Take breaks outside

Fitness and wellness guru and nutrition expert Penny Weston, who runs the Made Wellness Centre in Staffordshire, says it can be demoralising to sit inside when the sun is shining and you have to work, so her main tip is to get outside for a walk during your break.

She says: ‘Sunshine naturally boosts your production of the feel-good hormones, and the fresh air will give you a real break.

‘Any exercise has a really positive impact on your mental health, but this is never more true than exercising in the great outdoors.

‘Sunshine naturally boosts your production of the feel-good hormones, and the fresh air will give you a real break.’

Eat lunch outside  

‘If you’ve made your own lunch, sit on a park bench for a while outside,’ says Penny. ‘I would recommend not taking your phone with you so you can really enjoy the sunshine. If you’ve got time, why not pop a book in your bag and read for 10 minutes?’

Ruby Khan, a receptionist at the Quantus Gallery in East London, spends breaks in their outdoor gallery courtyard.

‘On a hot sunny day, I grab a salad before work and spend my lunchtime in our courtyard, which is a real suntrap,’ Ruby says. ‘In fact, most of us do that on our breaks as it’s nice to feel you’re not missing out on the good weather. 

‘And as we’re based in Shoreditch, most of the pubs around here get so busy, so we’ll often have drinks on a Friday in the courtyard, which is far nicer than being out on the road of a packed pub.’

Work outside

Sadly this won’t be possible for everyone but if you have a desk job, see if it’s possible to work outside. This will be easier if you work from home or have a garden.

If you don’t have access to any outdoor space, try to work near a window so you can soak in as much daylight and vitamin d as possible.

Freelance SEO and UX consultant Arek Estal is able to work outside due to the nature of his work and has even set up his office on the beach.

‘It doesn’t matter where I work,’ Arek, who is based in Cardiff, tells Metro.co.uk.

‘So to make the most of the sun, I’ll walk with my laptop to a local beach when it’s a hot or sunny day. 

‘I’ll work in one of the beachside cafes, then schedule in blocks of work, with breaks in between. In the breaks, I’ll go and sunbathe and eat lunch outside.

‘Unless you prioritise getting into the sun as part of your day, it isn’t going to happen. Nobody is productive 100% of the time, so it’s actually more efficient, and you create better output if you work in blocks with regular breaks.’

Caroline Marshall, the founder of VA agency Upsource, also recommends taking calls outside to maximise vitamin D intake.

‘I’ve even done video calls and recently onboarded a client outside,’ she says.

Change up your hours

If you want to enjoy the evening, have more time to see friends in a pub garden or watch the sunset, you could try starting work earlier so you can finish at a more reasonable hour – giving you more time to make dinner, do household chores and find time to relax.

For self-professed ‘sun-worshipper’, Laura Kirton, a Digital PR Executive at Flaunt Digital in Leeds, going into the office early on sunny days has become a go-to tactic to enjoy the sunshine.

‘It means I can finish work just as the sun is reaching its prime temperature at around 3pm,’ Laura explains. 

‘I used to go for a walk before I started work. However, I soon realised that I could optimise my sun intake if I went into the office earlier, when the sun isn’t as strong, and then have a long walk once I’ve left the office at 3pm.’

Hybrid working 

Laura’s workplace has a hybrid system that allows her to work from home two days a week. In order to maximise this flexibility, Laura will check the weather to see which days the ‘sun will be strongest’.

‘When I can, I like to sit outside to complete my work and sometimes use the shoebox trick (placing my laptop in an open shoe box) to see my screen,’ she adds.

‘Although this may seem extreme, the way the sun makes a difference to my mental health and overall wellbeing makes these strategic moves so very worth it.’

Tips for employers

While these solutions seek to maximise the most of the sunshine, Hannah Copeland, a HR Business Partner at employment law and HR support firm WorkNest, stresses the importance of working in a comfortable, cool environment and making sure employers keep workers safe if they are working outside in the heat.

‘The fact is, nobody likes to work in the sweltering heat, and many workplaces simply aren’t built for it,’ she explains.

‘It’s suggested that people typically work best at temperatures between 16°C and 24°C, depending on the type of work being done. Strenuous work is better performed at slightly lower temperatures than office work.

‘If the work environment exceeds these temperatures, the TUC say staff should be allowed to go home.

‘In the absence of legislation, employers still have a legal obligation under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 to provide a “reasonable” temperature in the workplace. However, again, the regulations don’t specify what qualifies as reasonable.

‘There are very real health and safety risks of working in a sweltering environment, including dizziness, fainting or even heat cramps.’

Hannah suggests that employers should implement controls to protect people who work outside. 

These include:

  • Rescheduling work to cooler times of the day;
  • Providing more frequent rest breaks and introducing shading to rest areas;
  • Introducing shading in areas where individuals are working;
  • Providing free access to cool drinking water;
  • Reiterating the importance of wearing sunblock and/or a hat;
  • Making sure protective clothing is light and suitable;
  • Encouraging the removal of PPE when resting to help facilitate heat loss; and
  • Educating workers about recognising the early symptoms of heat stress.

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