Wednesday 24 July 2019 7:47 am

Three ways to survive the summer heatwave in the workplace

Benedict Spence is a freelance writer. He is on Twitter @BenedictSpence

The heatwave is the worst time of year for the office worker. It’s that awful, sweaty season when resolve – and deodorants – fail en masse. 

Lethargy permeates the building, work and life slows, and you curse your paycheck for not being able to afford a balcony on your box flat’s window.

Not that you’re keen to get home. At least the office has air conditioning (if only Mike in facilities could get off his backside and fix the rattling). The nights pass in a haze of sleepless moisture as you lie, gazing at the ceiling, desperate for the embrace of sleep or death – whichever comes first.

It’s been six months since you vowed to get in shape, and now you curse your pallid, podgy self. Damn your laziness – if only you hadn’t been so lax before, the heat wouldn’t be preventing your lumbering body from hoisting itself about now.

And that’s before you all remember that Boris Johnson is becoming Prime Minister today, which I’m sure is going to do wonders for the temperament of London’s hot-and-bothered classes.

I’m working from home this week, which means I’ll be riding out the heat bare-chested, with nothing but tiny, tiny tennis shorts to hide my shame, windows cast open and unfettered access to the freezer. For the rest of you, it’s going to be a rough couple of days.

There are some things you can do to make life a little easier, though. 

1. Start your commute early

The first is to avoid the inferno of the commute, which, as we all know, is caused by the early morning rush and crush as everyone tries to get the Tube at the same time. 

Intelligent life is meant to learn from its mistakes, and it is perhaps a sign of how backwards we are as humans that commutes aren’t already staggered to ease congestion. 

Read more: London temperature set to reach 35c

Getting the Tube 15 minutes earlier – before the rest of the fetid workforce has clambered aboard the Northern Line – can save you a lot of hassle. The early morning is cooler, and you’ll be calmer. Though don’t all follow this advice at the same time, obviously.

In terms of attire, shirtsleeves are acceptable, but short-sleeved shirts remain verboten. And sorry chaps, linen trousers, rather than shorts. You aren’t at prep school.

2. Stock up on deodorant (yes, really)

The next thing, and I cannot stress this enough, is the importance of hygiene – and, perhaps controversially, it is aimed just as much at women as at men, maybe more so. A 2015 study suggested that four in five women in the UK don’t shower every day.

Now, far be it from me to tell women what to do with their lives. It is 2019.

All I’m saying is, the seasons don’t care about your empowerment. The sun will simmer you like it cooks everyone else, unleashing a wave of biological warfare upon the world the likes of which hasn’t been seen since… well, last year’s heatwave. 

Mellifluous odours may be a potent weapon against creeps on the Tube, but they will also take the lives of your coworkers and clients with them. In the heat, showers and deodorant are your friends.  

3. Take it easy in the workplace

Now, work will be slow. No one has the energy to do anything, so while you’ll be slower to get stuff done, that’s fine, as others will be slow too. So that fear you have? Yes, it’s misplaced. 

No work is getting done today. Trust me. Now, just avoid the news for the rest of the week, and, you never know, it might be rather pleasant.

Main picture credit: Michael Brown/Getty Images

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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