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

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
News
i100
Sport
footballSporting Lisbon take on Chelsea as Manchester City host Roma
News
people
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Arts and Entertainment
Mystery man: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in '‘Gone Girl'
films
News
businessForbes 400 list released
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
News
peopleSwimmer also charged with crossing double land lines and excessive speeding
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

    MANCHESTER - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION -

    Highly Attractive Pakage: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - A highly attractive oppor...

    Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

    Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

    £90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

    1st Line Service Desk Analyst

    £27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

    Day In a Page

    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
    Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

    Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

    Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
    Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

    Education, education, education

    TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
    It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

    It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

    So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
    This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

    Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

    Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
    We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

    Inside the E15 'occupation'

    We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy