Office dress code: what are the pros and cons


Office dress code: what are the pros and cons

After the COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside down, our ideas about what makes a perfect working environment are changing drastically, with a running theme being to bring an essence of home into the office. Many people would dread the thought of an office dress code, rolling their eyes as they have to pull out yet another tight fitting shirt and uncomfortable thick tights. A 2018 study revealed that only one in 10 people wear a suit to work, and there has since been a rise in the infamous “Zoom shirt” – meaning attire that is only worn for a business video call then swiftly replaced with a hoodie soon after. But could it be that welcoming a more relaxed office dress code could actually benefit a business? Let’s find out whether we should kiss goodbye to the suit, and say hello to comfies. 

Pro: Staying professional

A poll revealed that 34% of respondents believe that what you wear in the workplace does matter, so there is still some indication that the idea of an office dress code enhancing professionalism remains. In some instances, an office worker’s outward appearance can affect a client’s overall perception of your business. For example, if a person were to turn up to a formal meeting with a shirt untucked and unironed, it may reflect badly and lead the client to question how proactive and organised their potential business partner could be. Some still believe that a smart office dress code eradicates this risk, and reaching for a trusty shirt and blazer is one surefire way to impress clients. 

Pro: Creating your brand identity

Similar to the previous point, people will – as much as we hate to see it – make presumptions based on an office dress code. Businesses will often use formal work attire to show that everyone is part of a united team, proving a sense of professionalism even when away from the office desk. This could be a suit complete with a company name badge, or dressing in a way that represents brand colours. It’s a constant reflection of the business, and in some ways, used as a discrete marketing tool. 

Pro: Enhancing workplace productivity

With the introduction of the hybrid working model and added workplace flexibility, using office attire to separate home from work may result in a productivity boost. Although pulling a shirt over your head may seem like a simple, meaningless task, it can actually shift mindsets and prepare an individual for the working day ahead. This is similar to the office commute, which gives people time to plug in their favourite playlist and get into the right headspace. You just need to find the right balance between work and play, whilst still allowing workers to differentiate between the two contrasting environments through office attire. 

Con: Work incentives

What is it that sets your business apart from the rest? Is it the games room? The office relaxation room? Or maybe it’s the casual office attire? When welcoming new employees to the team, they will often look out for these perks to determine whether it’s worth sticking around. Companies that don’t have a strict dress code may actually carry a more positive than negative perception, by selling an enhanced culture based on rewards, and allowing employees to feel as relaxed in the office as they do at home. Perhaps a pair of work joggers isn’t such a bad idea after all? 

Con: Mindfulness in work

There’s been a definite shift towards maintaining mindfulness in the workplace, after what has been a stressful couple of years to say the least. People have got used to spending time in the safety of their own homes, so how can employers bring these comforts into the office? The answer could be getting rid of the office dress code policy and instead encouraging employees to choose an outfit that makes them feel more relaxed. Many offices are going one step further by introducing the scientifically comforting biophilic office design, alongside using interior design to make an office more homely. When workers are happier, productivity is almost guaranteed to rise. 

Con: Individuality

Some workers may feel stripped of their identity when faced with a strict office attire, so taking a more relaxed approach will make it easier for employees to express themselves. A company culture should embrace individuality, so as long as no one’s offended and outfits permit people to do their job, office workers may start to feel an increased level of trust between them and their employer. 

Ultimately, everyone will have an opinion about whether or not an office dress code is appropriate for business. For those that would like to permit relaxed attire, it may be useful to discuss situations where this may not be as appropriate. As an example, when writing a blog at home, the cosy jumper is a yes. Whereas, when clients want to have a video call, or you’re meeting a new potential business partner for the first time, something smarter is much better suited. It’s all about getting the right balance between the two.

We know that running an office comes with its stresses, from deciding whether to introduce an office dress code policy to kitting out your space to maximise employee comfort. Our office furniture experts are just a call away, happy to work with you to start bringing your dream work aesthetic to life. Get in contact today.