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Dolly Parton’s famous anthem “Workin’ 9-5” could soon become a thing of the past as the impact of climate change continues to affect our planet and the workforce. Researchers from the University of Oxford suggest that businesses may need to adjust their employees’ work patterns to cope with rising temperatures.

Source: DW News/YouTube

According to a study published in the journal Nature Sustainability, the experts recommend that workers in the UK start their shifts as early as 6 a.m. to finish by 2 p.m. and avoid the scorching afternoon heat. This change may require some individuals to wake up as early as 4 a.m. to prepare and commute during the warmer months.

The research highlights that Britain, unlike its Mediterranean neighbors, lacks established cultural norms influenced by hot weather, such as siestas. As a result, adapting work schedules becomes crucial to tackle the challenges posed by sweltering temperatures.

While many companies already embrace summer hours, allowing employees to leave work early, the University of Oxford study takes a more serious approach. The proposed schedule aims to prevent the annual overheating of staff, as the experts warn that heat becomes more unbearable as the day progresses. Spain has already implemented similar measures, with businesses mandating earlier start and finish times during heatwaves.

The recommended changes in working hours would particularly benefit outdoor workers and those in buildings ill-equipped to withstand extreme temperatures. However, even air-conditioned workspaces contribute to a “vicious cycle” by consuming more energy and exacerbating Climate change.

To combat this issue, the researchers suggest retrofitting buildings with ventilation systems that can be closed off to retain heat in winter and planting more trees near structures to provide shade. Employers can also follow Japan’s “Cool Biz” policy, encouraging staff to dress casually during summer months and setting office thermostats to 28°C or above.

As the frequency of uncomfortably hot days increases, economies must prepare for rising temperatures and avoid relying solely on energy-intensive air conditioning. Adapting work hours, implementing sustainable building practices, and adopting energy-saving measures are essential steps toward creating a more climate-resilient workforce and environment.

By making these adjustments, we can combat the heat and ensure a productive and comfortable work environment while minimizing our impact on the planet. Let’s embrace innovative solutions and pave the way for a cooler, more sustainable future.

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