Summer in the Office

Throughout the course of the day, this post has gone in and out of draft. I was going to put it on hold for a more cathartic rant, expressing exasperation and disbelief (possibly some anger too) towards various groups of people in the aftermath of the recent arseholery in Manchester (I’m not going to use the ‘t’ word – I’d rather just call it for what it is). It was enough just to write it and leave it unpublished, giving me the opportunity to scream into a soundproof bucket so-to-speak, but it’s too soon to be putting something like that online – I’m not Katie Hopkins!

Back to the originally-intended post!

Every year, around this time, I have a moan about how inflexible office wear is for men. We’ve now had three days in a row where I’ve not taken my coat on my lunchtime amble into Atherstone – three days of near-constant sunshine is almost unheard-of in the Midlands. In fact, today I’ve not brought my coat at all – all of the essentials that normally get stuffed in my pocket are now carried in a Rough Trade carrier bag (bit hipster I know, but they’re a lot stronger than the typical supermarket carrier bags). Even if I douse myself in antiperspirant, my clothes are almost stuck to me when I get back from my walk.

We’ve got the windows open in the office (which get closed very quickly when the wind changes and the stench of the nearby horse paddocks wafts in), and they’ve not turned the AC on yet. It’s warm! I’m drinking several litres of water each day to stay hydrated, which just seems to race through me like Nigel Mansell in his prime.

Most of the ladies in the office have re-arranged their wardrobes to match the current climate, but we’re not allowed the same luxury: we’re still in the same shirt-and-trousers garb we’re in all winter. Yes, we can go for a short-sleeved shirt, but having slightly cooler arms isn’t all that adequate. There needs to be some flexibility without changing the rules too much – especially for those who aren’t customer-facing.

Here’s my ideas:

  1. Allow un-tucked shirts. I know it doesn’t look as “smart”, but neither does an employee whose sweat is seeping through the fabric of his shirt, basting him like a chicken in a roasting bag. I’ve got something of a beer-belly, and tucking in my shirt just accentuates it anyway.
  2. Ditch the tie. It’s optional where I work, but not so for some places. I’ve never been a fan of the tie – particularly the way it resembles a shackle and chain worn around the neck – but when worn with a shirt in the summer, it just acts like a seal and further restricts the cool air reaching the torso.
  3. Allow linen shirts. They may look crumpled, but they’re a lot cooler (in both appearance and temperature) than the regular, boring office shirts.
  4. Allow smart sandals. Quite a few of the ladies have opted for footwear made of just a few strips of leather, so why can’t we? We’re not talking flip-flops or beach sandals – more like the Birkenstock style. Forcing our feet into socks and leather brogues makes our feet a bacteria breeding ground. Imagine that! While you’re trying to impress a potential customer and secure their business, millions of microscopic organisms on your feet are causing a stink!

If that’s too much, I do have a couple of other ideas that don’t involve dress-code changes. They’re bound to go down well with your employees.

  1. Al fresco working. Most pubs now have free Wi-Fi for customers, enabling them to work from the beer garden – just make sure to tell the bar staff your employees are on soft drinks only until 5pm. It’ll be good for the pub trade too – too many of them are closing and becoming “local” supermarkets these days.
  2. Free ice-cream. Are your employees struggling to keep cool? Are they becoming demoralised in their discomfort? Easy solution: free ice-cream! Send a trolley round filled with ice-cold treats, and they’ll soon perk up and return to peak productivity.

Mine’s a cider refresher!

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