Medical Technology

The Workday May Shift With Climate Change

As working during the hottest part of the day becomes increasingly impossible in certain regions of the world, working hours might need to be adjusted according to a recent Nature Communications study.

What you should know:

  • As temperatures rise globally, workers in the hottest locations are increasingly often forced to stop their work during the middle of the day because of extreme heat, which can lead to dangerous conditions.

  • The extreme heat is already affecting hundreds of millions of workers in fields like agriculture, forestry, and construction, and estimated to cost as much as $670 billion annually in labor productivity according to researchers from Duke University, reporting in the journal Nature Communications.

  • The loss of productivity could exceed $1.6 trillion annually if the temperature rises by 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees F). India, China and Pakistan are expected to feel the greatest economic losses.

  • Researchers discovered that 30% of the global loss of work due to extreme heat could be prevented by shifting the work from the three hours of the hottest to the coolest hours.

  • However, they pointed out that this strategy is likely to decrease in effectiveness as temperatures rise and fails to account for impacts like disruptions to sleep patterns caused by shifts in work hours.

This is a summary of the article “In the face of climate change, it’s time to rethink the way we work” published by Anthropocene Magazine on

January 4, 2022. The full article can be found on anthropocenemagazine.org.

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