In this “new normal” can workers who have spent the pandemic working from home continue to dress in tracksuits and more casual clothing, even though there is likely now to be a return to the workplace? And does what we wear to work really matter? Do we feel different or act differently when ‘suited and booted’?
Whether your organisation is a large corporate sector employer, a start-up, a law firm, a charity or a local authority, businesses are now pondering on the issue of the dress code.
How important is the dress code to the identity, culture, efficacy and profitability of business?
Research has shown that children behave better, are less distracted and are more productive when wearing a school uniform. But is this the case also for adults during their working day?
When all schools reverted to virtual teaching via Zoom and Microsoft Teams in March 2020, there were reports of some stalwart parents insisting that their children needed to stick to a routine. They insisted that their children got up at the normal time, showered and dressed in their school uniform, even though their lessons were being delivered remotely. School uniform with virtual learning just felt a little extreme.
In the UK many employees have been working exclusively from home since March 2020. The sales in loungewear have increased, with many people working in comfortable clothing and slippers. Brands renowned for tailored work wear have suffered, with many large high street retailers having gone out of business (including high end shirt retailers Thomas Pink and TM Lewin – both companies sadly went into administration in 2020/21).
Many people have been working in much more casual clothing. However, many professional services firms have reported excellent productivity levels, even in the absence of traditional corporate attire.
So, is it time to ditch the strict dress code?
Employees who have worked through the pandemic, whilst still attending their normal places of work, will no doubt have kept with the same dress code or uniform and will not be experiencing the dilemmas of what to do about going back to a more rigid dress code.
For people who have been working from home or who have been furloughed for part or all of the pandemic, the dilemmas are real, as things open up and the expectation of employers is back to business as usual.
The expectation is generally that customer or client facing employees will need to return to formal attire and will need to return to a more traditional dress code. The predictable arguments for this will be that the standards, brand and image of the company need to be upheld and with the return to the work place will come the return to the old, familiar dress code.
Have you got a dress code dilemma on your hands? Are you experiencing issues in your business as employees contemplate a return to workplaces? Do you need assistance with a new Flexible or Hybrid Working Policy?
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