It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a freelancer working at home in a heatwave must be in want of air conditioning. But alas, the majority of us in the UK do not have that luxury. 

Temperatures in the UK have reached 40 degrees and do not seem to be dropping any time soon. Since these extreme temperatures will soon be commonplace in this country thanks to climate change, it’s important to know how to avoid heatstroke while you try to complete your to-do list.

As somebody with entirely Celtic DNA and the complexion of an anaemic ghost, I often struggle to focus when the temperature goes above 20 degrees. Thanks to my countless years of research, I have managed to develop a foolproof strategy for keeping cool enough to be productive when the sun is trying to stop me from getting any work done.

If this sounds like something you need, keep reading.


You’ll find it much easier to focus if you plan your schedule around the heat. Try to start earlier or later than usual so that you avoid working through the heat of the day between 11am and 3pm. I tend to start around 3/4pm when both my brain and my laptop are cool enough to work properly.

If you’re unable to change the time of your work, you can change the type of work you’re doing. When it’s as hot inside as it is outside, the last thing you want to be doing is a complicated task that requires thinking and focus. Save these for cooler times and instead focus on those simple, quick-win items you’ve been putting off that don’t require much brain power.


While you could stick a bucket of ice in front of your trusty old fan for instant air-con, this workaround can get rather noisy and a little bit wet so I would recommend investing in a fan with a cooling setting instead; as this will actually drop the temperature in your home office instead of simply pushing the hot air around the room. Just remember to make the taxman pay for your shiny new office fan by using your business bank account to expense the purchase!

While some of these cooling fans can be quite expensive to buy, there are some great budget versions with excellent reviews. I recently bought this
Honeywell Quietset Tower Fan for under £60 on Amazon Prime Day and I genuinely don’t think I could survive without its ‘Power Cool’ setting aimed directly at my face all day.

It can be easy to forget that the machines struggle with this heat too. Be nice to your equipment; unplug any non-essential electronics, buy a USB-powered cooling tray for your laptop and be patient with your tech when it’s slow. You’ll be glad you did when the robots take over.


When it gets overly warm outside, your body is forced to expend more energy to cool you down and maintain a safe body temperature. This means that every single task that you try to do in the hot weather will take you longer to complete and will make you feel much more tired than it would have in the cold weather - just like your laptop!

You can combat this summer fatigue by copying the Spanish and having a siesta during the heat of the day. If you struggle to sleep during the daytime like me, you don’t have to nap just make sure you are resting in a cool space. It’s important to take regular breaks throughout the day to jump in a cold shower or dunk your feet in a blow-up paddling pool in the garden. 


Every house has a single room that somehow manages to stay cooler than the rest so try to find this room. You’ll work much better if you set up shop in a room that doesn’t get hit by direct sunlight, has floorboards or tiles instead of carpet and has a free plug socket for your new fan. Though it may seem counterintuitive, make sure you keep the curtains drawn and the windows shut in this room until after the heat has passed or it will stay hot inside well into the evening.

If you have access to any outside space, you could try working outside but try to stay in the shade as this will prevent both you and your laptop from overheating. If there isn’t any shade, pop a hat on your head and try to fashion a parasol for your laptop. I’ve often had good results using an umbrella laying on its side or by placing my laptop inside a cardboard shield.


In a heatwave, nothing is more important than drinking lots of fluids. While water is the most obvious choice for hydration, isotonic sports drinks like Lucozade can actually be better for you as they also replenish the electrolytes and salt that are lost via sweating. The food you eat also plays a big role in your hydration, so stock up on water-rich foods like watermelon, tomatoes and soup. As hard as it sounds, try to skip the morning coffee and the evening pint as caffeine and alcohol will actually dehydrate you.

For those of us who are not blessed with a fridge that dispenses ice-cold water at the push of a button, I’d suggest filling some bottles with tap water and keeping them in your fridge for a steady supply of cold water. You can even lay half-full bottles down in the freezer for a homemade ice pack, just top up the empty space in the bottle when you need an iced drink.


For me, the biggest benefit to working from home in a heatwave is being able to dress for the weather instead of for the office. It turns out that it’s much easier to focus on your work when you’re not worrying about accidentally flashing a co-worker because you decided to wear a skirt today.

If you’re prone to overheating, stick to wearing loose-fitting, breathable fabrics to help you keep cool and dry in hot and humid conditions; sports clothes made from polyester can also be good as they are designed with sweat-wicking properties. As you’ll be inside, I’d also recommend staying barefoot as you lose more heat through the soles of your feet.


Although these tips can help you to keep working during the most recent heatwave, you need to make sure you’re not overdoing it. Keep an eye on yourself and remember: it’s okay not to be as productive when the whole world is slowly melting.

Photographer Credits:
Preview Image: Dziana Hasanbekava
Image 1: Galvao Menacho
Image 2: Lo Furneaux
Image 3: Helena Lopes
Image 4: Lo Furneaux
Image 5: Polina Tankilevitch