The office courtesy series: 5 tips for summer office etiquette
It happens suddenly in May or June: you start seeing tans, smiles, shorts, and bright dresses. Summertime is here, and it changes the tone of the office for a few months. Your coworkers are in better moods, excited to dash off for drinks outdoors or to a baseball game. And then there are other times when it feels like a sauna outside and everyone is cranky and tired from the heat.
So how can we learn to co-exist during the dog days of the summer in an office environment? Consider the following ideas as you sip your iced coffee at your computer:
Summer office “sweatiquette.”
1. Create a sweat-support strategy. Though biking to work is a green way to get around, you’ll be sweaty post-commute. If your workplace has a shower, rinse after biking and bring a change of clothes. Not all offices have showers though, so biking at a slower pace might help. Also, keep moisturizing wipes or a towel handy at your desk, particularly the absorbent, micro-fiber kind.
2. Eat and drink smart.
- Always have a filled water bottle on standby. Natural sports drinks, grape juice, or mineral and coconut water are all hydrating options packed with electrolytes.
- Try to snack on foods with high liquid content, such as watermelon, strawberries, and cooked tomatoes. Red pigmented fruits and vegetables are rich with lycopene, which contains powerful antioxidants and is thought to reduce heart disease and cancer.
- Minimize your caffeine intake as well as your high-protein food consumption. The body requires more energy to digest a high-protein diet during extreme heat.
- And to keep your co-workers happy, be sure to help fill up the water coolers and clean up any sticky fruit juice spills.
3. Play nicely with the air conditioner.
Escaping from the oven-like outdoors into the cool air-conditioned office feels great. However, sometimes people turn up the the A/C vent volume too high, and it might as well be winter again! “Temperature wars” for the A/C control are all too common, leaving some staff members melting at their desks while others shiver under sweaters.
One option is to take a poll when the thermostat is at a certain temperature. If the majority is comfortable, everyone else should adapt. Keeping a cardigan at the office is another way to deal with the cold. When it gets to chilly in the winter, try out a miniature space heater.
4. Try telecommuting.
Summer at work can mean a lot of warm sweaty bodies close together. But it also means a more relaxed work environment. People take time off and are possibly more flexible. If you’ve logged in enough experience at your workplace, check with your supervisor about the possibility of working from home now and then. A change of scenery will benefit both you and your colleagues when you come back to the office feeling refreshed.
5. Forget flip-flops.
Mark Zuckerburg and higher-level management employees may be able to get away with it, but studies show that many American employees feel that flip-flops are inappropriate. A 2012 report by recruiting agency Adecco USA said that ripped jeans and flip-flops were by far the biggest summer wardrobe offenses at work.
Writer Meredith Lepore says, “Basically, flip-flops are not allowed in the office because if you had to show zero responsibility, being carefree, and less-than-perfect hygiene in a shoe, it would be flip-flops.” They are noisy and they can smell.
As Diana Baros, founder and editor of ‘The Budget Babe, said, “Flip-flops are for the pool, the beach, and barbecues. I’m all for comfort, but there are plenty of comfortable, stylish shoe alternatives that will help you look polished and professional.”
What’s your pro-tip for summer office etiquette? What drives you nuts? Is your office a battleground for A/C temperature wars? Sound off below.