Corporate goes casual
With temperatures rising and the sun shining, work attire was recently back in the headlines as the Irish branch of Citi bank is ditching formal wear in favour of more casual clobber for July and August.
What was once known as ‘casual Friday’ has now extended throughout the week, with many companies adopting a more relaxed approach to employee dress codes.
Some of the world’s most successful companies, such as Google and Facebook, are leading the trend towards more casual clothes in work, as a compliment to their relaxed and quirky office culture.
But, does what you wear have an impact on your productivity?
Casual wear = Casual Mind
What we wear to work can affect our focus, motivation and what we accomplish of our day-to-day duties. Since our minds often associate a more relaxed dress with personal downtime, some companies fear that a change in apparel may cause a subliminal switch off for employees during the work week.
However, a casual approach can be positively adopted if done the right away. It all comes down the office environment and reminding employees that a casual dress code doesn’t mean a casual approach to work.
Comfort is Key
Most people will tell you they will wear a suit to work, but do they actually enjoy putting it on each and every morning? Is it their preferred choice of clothing? – Probably not! People tend to be more relaxed and happy when they can choose their own style of dress.
Comfort is especially critical for those constantly facing big company decisions. Suits or formal dress can feel stuffy and restricting, which can make people feel uncomfortable, and impact their feelings of competency during tough work situations.
Employees in one Swedish start-up are taking a new approach to casual dress by leaving shoes at the front door and changing into slipper for their work day.
While stiff suits and restricting dresses can be uncomfortable, they can also impair creativity in the workplace, especially in roles which may require employees to perform more innovative tasks.
Some companies who have embraced a more casual approach to work wear have thought of quirky ways for employees to embrace the change. By organising fun competitions for best shoes or shirts, they allow employees to express their personalities and get to know one another better.
While creativity and comfort are key- especially to millennials who now occupy roughly 60% of the workforce- dress codes do need to be tailored depending on who your customers are and how often you interact with them. When important meetings are taking place, or you’re regularly meeting with clients, you may need to trade your t-shirt and jeans for more formal attire.
It’s also important that casual never be interpreted as sloppy. Employees should be reminded that although you are promoting more of a casual and relaxed dress- some rules may still apply.