The world is getting hotter. In June, the Copernicus Climate Change Service reported that May 2024 was the warmest May on record globally. We’re also feeling the heat closer to home.

A report by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) found the UK experienced five heatwave periods during summer 2022 with record-breaking temperatures of over 40°C in England. It’s not a one off either – these are weather events that are set to repeat as our climate changes.

Productivity, mental wellbeing and general health are all impacted if you can’t you can't keep office cool as the mercury rises. Most of us can relate - sat at our desks during a heatwave, bemoaning the lack of cool air and feeling an immense sense of lethargy wash over us.

Business owners and building managers struggling to take hot weather seriously – especially those who question how many really hot days we get every year - should take note. The LSE says heat exposure is estimated to cost the UK economy £260–300 million per year, so keeping employees comfortable has all-round benefits.

General Cooling Strategies

Although there is no legal maximum working temperature, employment law states employers have a 'duty of care' to make sure working temperatures are reasonable for their staff, and that should include a ‘keep office cool’ procedure. The following are hot ideas for a cool office.

Installing & Optimising Air Conditioning

Despite air conditioning being around for years, many offices have resisted installing this cooling system as they assume it’s a disruptive job. At MPL Interiors, we can install office air conditioning with the minimum of fuss – as a stand-alone project or as part of our wider office refurbishment services around the South East.

Opt for a system that has zoned controls over a blanket temperature setting, so employees have more influence over the temperature in individual areas. Remember, an office that’s too cold can be just as counterproductive as one that’s too hot.

Building owners must ensure air conditioning units are properly serviced. A poorly functioning system can increase the risk of air and water-borne droplets transmitting respiratory tract infections, Legionnaire’s Disease, black mould spores and sick-building syndrome.

Enhancing Natural Ventilation

How to make an office colder? It can be as simple as opening a window, if you get your timing right. The air is cool first thing in the morning and after the sun has gone down, so open any windows during these periods. Although it sounds counterintuitive, it can be beneficial to keep any windows shut at the hottest parts of the day an open window simply lets hot air in. If you’re not happy with your window openings, or have panes of glazing with no opening at all, ask MPL about installing better options.

Floor standing, ceiling and desk fans are another great way to keep the air circulating but how you position them is key. If cooler air is entering a room, position a fan so it helps circulate the air to all corners. If a window is letting in hot air, you can keep office cool by pointing the fan to face the window, so it helps prevent warm air from getting in. You may like to place a bowl of ice in front of desk fans as this can cool the air that it circulates.

Implementing Smart Thermostats

Just as central heating systems are built with the ability to automatically turn on if the internal temperature drops below a certain level, comfort cooling units can have the reverse, which will help keep office cool and reduce energy consumption. When set to cool mode, cold air circulation starts when the temperature reaches a pre-set level. It will then automatically turn off when the air has satisfactorily cooled.

Using Window Treatments

The most intense heat is generated when the sun is at its highest, usually between 11am and 3pm. This is when blinds and curtains should be shut. Keeping out the strongest UV rays will keep office cool and minimise the glare on computer screens. If it’s not possible to install blinds or curtains, MPL can apply a reflective solar or energy-control film to windows, which reflects natural light, and blocks the heat and UV rays.

Cooling Solutions for Smaller Office Spaces

If you need to keep small office cool in the summer but don’t have a lot of room, there are some really effective options to try – many that don’t need an installation or structural adjustments.

Portable Air Conditioners and Fans

If your building or landlord isn’t conducive to a centralised air conditioning system, portable air con units are a good alternative and one unit can sometimes be enough to keep small office cool. Portable units also have the ability to be placed where targeted cold air is most required but choose the most energy smart option you can find as they can be costly to run. In really small offices, opt for desk or ceiling fans.

Efficient Space Utilisation

Sometimes where an office desk is positioned can make all the difference. The temperature will be higher if desks are in direct sunlight or are situated next to electrical items, such as photocopiers. MPL’s interior office design solutions will achieve the best office layout, taking into account clear pathways for a better air circulation, and where the sun rises and sets.

Insulating Small Offices

If you thought insulation was all about keeping a space warm, think again. Insulation can play a big part if you need to keep small office cool. Thermally insulated curtains and blinds are great low-cost additions to a small office. Their lining can block out the heat from the sun and reduce your reliance on air conditioning. The right ceiling insulation can also help regulate air temperatures in the summer by creating a thermal bridge.

Energy-Efficient Practices

The heat in an office can’t be exclusively attributed to the weather. Sometimes a stifling environment is the result of what’s inside the workplace. Being more energy efficient can keep office cool and reduce your electricity bill in the process.

Using Energy-Efficient Lighting

No lights switched in is the best option but if a space needs illuminating, there is a smart way to achieve light. If you haven’t migrated over to LED light bulbs, do it now. Traditional light bulbs generate much more heat than their low energy counterparts, so they can significantly raise the temperature in a small room.

Minimising Heat-Generating Devices

While it may not obvious if you want to keep office cool, performing an electrical equipment audit will help. All electrical goods – printers, screens, chargers, photocopiers, hard drives and laptops included – give off heat when in use. An audit will help you identify unused electrical items that can be unplugged or their use reduced. Don’t forget to switch off any devices that can be shut down overnight.

Additional Tips and Tricks

It’s not all about the air conditioning. These tips and tricks will improve the comfort levels in your workplace.

Hydration & cooling stations

When it’s hot and humid you need to make hydration a priority – water coolers not only provide a place to catch up with colleagues but they are also essential when it comes to encouraging staff to keep drinking. A drinks station on every floor will also help people stay hydrated and MPL can install a glass-fronted drinks fridge so you can make an inviting display. Alternatively, install a special tap that dispenses chilled and sparkling water.

Dress code adjustments

If your office has retained a formal dress code, you might consider relaxing this during the summer months. Dark coloured suits, long sleeve shirts, ties and tights could be temporarily forgone in favour of cotton and linen garments, tailored shorts, chinos and polo shirts.

Paint it white

Have you ever noticed that when you go to hotter climes – particularly Spain, Portugal and Greece, the buildings are beautifully whitewashed. Although they stand out against blues skies and make Instagram-able images, the treatment is more than just an aesthetic.

In fact, painting buildings white is one of the LSE’s recommendations for a National Heat Risk Strategy for the UK. White paint has a high ‘albedo’, which is a measure of reflectiveness. Sun is reflected away, resulting in a cooler building so paint as much of the exterior white as possible.

Altered working hours & locations

If you’re really struggling to keep office cool and staff are struggling to concentrate, employers may consider adopting more continental working hours during heatwaves. Early starts, extended lunches and working into the evening will optimise desk time in the coolest hours. An alternative is permitting working from home, where fewer people are creating less heat.


Summer sunshine is what many of us dream of outside of office hours but unbearable temperatures when we’re trying to work can be detrimental to focus, output, health and wellbeing. We all know that it gets hot every year but rushing out to buy fans last minute isn’t a good strategy. Advance planning allows workforces to quickly adapt to all weather conditions, creating an ambient environment that everyone feel comfortable in. Let MPL help keep your cool this summer – contact us for air conditioning, ventilation and temperature control advice.