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New Oxford study finds the future workday may look radically different: ‘We must learn to adapt’

“No country is shielded from these impacts.”

6-2 working hours, Future workday may look radically different

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They say the early bird gets the worm, but a new study by researchers at Oxford University shows that the early bird also gets less hot. 

The study, led by Dr. Nicole Miranda and published in the journal Nature Sustainability, suggested that as our planet continues to overheat, businesses might need to change their working hours in order to allow staff to cope with unmanageable heat levels, shifting from the 9-5 model to a 6-2. 

What is the 6-2? 

The researchers of the study recommended implementing a new standard for working hours: 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

They say that employees may need to start work at 6 a.m. in order to work eight hours and be done by 2 p.m., allowing them to be out of the office in time to beat the late-day heat. 

These hours are already happening in parts of Spain where recent heat-wave temperatures have reached as high as 113 degrees Fahrenheit, and some shops have also changed their hours to be closed during the hottest hours of the day. 

While researchers think earlier working hours would especially benefit those who work outside, they also acknowledge that buildings in the UK have historically been designed to keep in, not lose, heat. 

This makes them especially unprepared for these higher temperatures, and keeping them cool during unprecedented heat could prove to be nearly impossible. 

Why should you care about UK work hours?

The need for shifting work hours anywhere is the result of the overheating of our planet. Record-high temperatures are occurring across the globe, and while the study claimed that Britain is one of several European countries that will have to adapt to unbearable temperatures the most, the continued overheating of our planet will affect everyone. 

The researchers worry that more AC units will be needed to keep workers cool if they’re forced to be in sweltering offices. 

Dirty energy sources are often burned to provide energy for ACs, which heats the planet even more, requiring even more energy for cooling — a “vicious cycle,” as the scientists put it. 

Other practices, like the four-day work week, have already been implemented in places to mitigate the effects of our warming planet. 

Having people in the office fewer days a week cuts both the amount of electricity used and the number of commuters, both of which greatly benefit the environment. 

Dr. Radhika Khosla, co-author of the study, told the Daily Mail that “no country is shielded from these impacts,” and that northern countries will also have to adapt drastically.

In the same article, MP Philip Dunne, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said, “Hotter summers are our new normal … we must learn to adapt to them and to mitigate the harms that extreme hot weather will bring.”

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