London: The confinements of office life can be even more frustrating in the summer months. Every lunchtime, workers flock to the nearest green space to hastily catch a few rays before heading back into the air-conditioned environment of the office.
The hot weather, however, can encourage some social faux pas, fashion mistakes and inappropriate behavior. Here`s how to stay cool and professional in a well-mannered way...
It may be boiling outside, but it`s inadvisable to wear anything too revealing to work. By all means plunder your summer wardrobe, but leave the low-cut strappy tops and micro-minis for the weekend.
"If the rules are relaxed and there`s a dress down day, remember that not everyone was born to wear shorts. It goes without saying that anything patterned, overly baggy or very short should be reserved for the beach.
Opt for open-toed shoes with caution. No one wants to be exposed to your over-wintered tootsies, so invest in a full pedicure before strapping up your gladiators. Flip-flops, unless they coordinate perfectly or are elegantly adorned, are probably one step too casual for most workplaces.
Never wear sunglasses inside, even if your desk is in a bright and sunny position.
Balmy summer evenings encourage plenty of post-work socials, but it`s essential to keep your wits about you. Remember, colleagues are always colleagues, no matter how good a friend they may be. Don`t over indulge and damage your professional reputation.
There`s nothing like a little sunshine for romance to blossom. Think very carefully before embarking on a romance or fling with a colleague - especially if you`re the wrong side of a chilled bottle of rosé. People will talk and you will probably find yourself in a difficult position come autumn.
Equally, never get involved with your boss. The likely outcome is awkwardness and gossip rather than promotion and praise.
Don`t brag about holidays and weekends. There`s nothing worse than becoming the office bore who has always had the best holiday, craziest summer weekend, etc. Remember, it`s likely that your colleagues aren`t that interested in your social life.
As the temperatures rise, tempers can flare, especially in hot and crowded public transport. It may be trying, but always try to keep your cool. Remember, everyone`s in the same position.
Avoid loud sighing and persistent moaning - it will only irritate your fellow passengers.
Be aware of other people. Respect their personal space whenever possible, and keep an eye out for the elderly or pregnant who may be in need of a seat.
Be tolerant if sudden lurches (a frequent occurrence on buses and tubes) propel you into close proximity with other passengers. Apologize if you`re the perpetrator, and smile politely if you`re the one being crushed.
Remember that heat and proximity heighten tension and amplify your behavior, so be considerate if using a mobile phone, eating, drinking, listening to music or carrying outsized luggage.
Keep conversations with traveling companions quiet and discreet - you don`t want everyone on the bus to be involuntarily eavesdropping.
Some thought, consideration and politeness oil the wheels of office life. A considerate and well-mannered employee/colleague is likely to reap rewards and take a step up the career ladder.
Keep up with the tea round and know when it`s your turn. On hot days, offer to pop out and get cool drinks, ice creams etc.
Ask before turning up the air conditioning. You may be roasting, but others may not welcome blasts of freezing air. Equally, check with those around you before shutting up windows if it chills off.
Limit your time on social networking sites such as Facebook. Remember, too, that if you`re `friends` with any colleagues, it may be wise to censor some of your summer snaps before posting pictures of your holiday romance, hedonistic weekend at Glastonbury or skimpy bikini shots.
(Jo Bryant is the London-based etiquette advisor for Debrett`s, Britain`s modern authority on all matters of manners and behaviour. The opinions expressed are her own. Debrett`s website is www.debretts.com)