Heatwave Britain: The Independent's guide to sweaty office etiquette

Keep your cool at work with our writers' tips

As the nation cowers, sweats and gibbers under the impact of the summer heatwave the pressure is on to not let the temperature go to your head.

Whilst rocking up to the office with flip-flops and a shirt unbuttoned to the navel may be an obvious faux-pas, there's trickier issues to navigate. Here's our best advice for keeping your cool at work:

Don't melt on the way to work

After spending a night doing battle with sauna-like bedrooms and sheets that trap more heat than space-blankets the last thing you want to do is sweat it out on your way into work, so what are the options?

If you’re in London and taking the Tube into work then the first thing to remember is that not all trains are equal: the Metropolitan Line has air-conditioned carriages (mmm), whilst the Jubilee Line boasts the coolest stations (an average of 25°C during peak temperatures in 2008).

Commuters looking to exit the station as fresh as they entered are advised to avoid Central – it’s the hottest line with temperatures going up to 32°C. Of course, walking to work will always keep you fairly temperate whilst cyclists supply their own cooling breeze (sweat is another matter, see below).

Barring pulling a sickie and staying at home with your top off and the fan on full though your best bet might be to follow the lead of Vladimir Putin yesterday. The Russian President kept cool in the Gulf of Finland by bolting about in a dinky submarine.

James Vincent

Deal with those cycle sweats

Most of the year it’s absolutely fine to cycle in to work at whatever pace you like and take a leisurely approach to getting showered and changed. But what do you do when the temperature is pushing 30C and your colleagues recoil in horror at your sweaty post-commute appearance?

If your office or workplace has a shower the etiquette is simple: come in early, get in the queue and have a proper shower before you sit down at your desk. The last thing your workmates want  - even if they are too polite to say anything – is a sweaty mess sitting by them until the office shower becomes free at noon.

However if your boss is too tight to invest in a shower, then the matter is not so simple. First off there are some preventative measures you can take. If your commute is a short one take it a leisurely pace. You may also want to splash out on some panniers to reduce the sweaty rucksack back. Once you are in the office the first thing you need to do is use a small towel to handle any overt beads of sweat - an absorbent micro-fibre travel towel is ideal for this. Then a “bird bath”-style wash in the loos is your only choice. It’s far from satisfactory if you’re really dripping, but you’ll spend a fortune on face wipes and “shower in a can” if you take the Glastonbury approach to staying clean.

There is of course another way of looking at it. This shower problem isn’t restricted to cyclists. Just think of your poor colleagues, on a hot summer’s day, who have battled in for an hour on the Tube or a bus with malfunctioning air conditioning. They are covered in city grime and subterranean funk, while your glow is entirely natural and (probably) odour free. As long as nobody complains, perhaps it’s time to embrace the sweat.

Jamie Merrill

Lunch break sunbathing: Keep it covered

It’s torture being locked in the office, staring out the window at anyone who is lucky enough to be frolicking in the sun (namely students, tourists and the unemployed. Oh, for an adult version of the six-week school holidays!) So it’s understandable that when lunchtime arrives, you’ll want to dash to the nearest patch of green to work on your tan. Just please, please keep your clothes on. It’s not the weekend, and you’re not on holiday. Aside from embarrassing run-ins with colleagues, ladies, a bikini top looks ridiculous with that Zara pencil skirt, and men, nobody wants to see your pecs while eating a dry egg sandwich from Greggs. Put it away.

Gillian Orr

When hot, eat hot

When the sun becomes unyielding, there’s only one thing to do: eat yourself cool. Spurn the watermelon, though, and dispense with the services of a gazpacho. Instead what you need to do is eat the hottest chilli you can find (well, maybe the hottest you dare).

The heat of the chilli stimulates TRPV1 receptors on the tongue, which sends messages to the brain saying: “we’re hot”. The brain then activates the body’s cooling mechanism: sweating. The sweat cools us as it evaporates – and does so to a greater degree than the chilli heats us. A singularly successful case of fighting fire with fire.

Samuel Muston

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

    Recruitment Genius: General Processor

    £7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

    Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

    £18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

    Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

    £14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot