Casual dress in the workplace started out as a one-day-a-week treat. Employees could trade in their suits and pencil skirts for jeans and T-shirts, making Friday feel that much sweeter. Over the last decade, this 90s invention has shifted from a special occasion to what seems to be the norm at most offices.
Is your company one of the few that still enforces a dress code policy? And is it time to shake things a bit?
Why dress codes are a thing of the past
There are a few clear signs that indicate dress codes are outdated.
- Some of the best places to work in the country let their employees express themselves in terms of attire - just look at Google.
- Loosening the belt on the dress code policy allows a workplace to shift focus from what people are wearing to how they're performing.
- According to Inc magazine, getting rid of the dress code can boost employee morale.
- As The Huffington Post pointed out, Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg can pull off his duties while sporting a sweatshirt. Why can't everyone?
- A strict dress code may be the last standing trademark of traditional offices. Gone are days when women are only secretaries and men cheers with scotch like in "Mad Men." America has moved on.
- Casual dress is a great way to promote a company's fun and laid back culture.
The shortcomings of casual dress
It's important to note that although most businesses have migrated to casual dress policies, there are a few concerns that crop up with this change.
- It can be tough to set boundaries for work-appropriate clothing when people can wear almost anything they want.
- A few employees might try to take casual dress to the next level, taking advantage of a more lax dress code.
- Employees might have a more relaxed approach to their work, which sometimes comes across as laziness.
Is your business ready?
Luckily, there are ways around the pitfalls of suspending a formal dress code policy. If you're considering letting employees express themselves in the form of wearing whatever they want, here are a few pointers to navigate choppy waters.
- As Inc magazine advised, setting some standards is the way to go. Companies can still ban attire like tube tops, shorts and flip-flops while still letting people wear less formal clothing.
- Make the boundaries known by hosting a seminar for new employees and hanging up posters around the office.
- Maintain an outward professional reputation by having a policy that calls for formal outfits for client-facing meetings or on-camera appearances.
Keep these obstacles in mind so that you can join the rest of the casual-dress bunch. Your employees will thank you for it.