31 Jul Casual Offices: The New Professional Business Standard
The age of the corporate suit and tie is over, and in its place dawns a new age: the age of casual offices, casual Fridays and casual bosses.
Gone are the days of heavy charcoal jackets, and here are the days of Nike sneakers and denim skirts. As baby boomers move out of the workforce, millennials are moving in — and reinventing the business space.
Casual Fridays used to be a privilege for businessmen and women after a week of hard work. But now, they are a staple in most offices. In fact, some offices even prefer casual dress code over business dress code, insisting it increases office camaraderie and in turn defeats corporate hierarchy.
Companies like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all encourage casual dress codes. The movie “The Internship” shocked viewers by revealing the surprisingly laid back office spaces of Google. Google encourages collaboration and openness through their casual office set-ups. But, by providing ping pong tables, massage chairs, snacks and a casual dress code, they also encourage creativity and self expression.
Does a casual atmosphere really make a difference? We here at Pepper Gang think that it can, when utilized correctly and appropriately. Check out some of the benefits of a casual workplace, and tips on how to correctly foster a casual workplace.
Employees enjoy casual attire more than business attire, which will better the general mood of the office.
Lowering the dress code also lowers opportunities for economic-based prejudices, superficiality and “cold” corporate behavior. A study by Inc.com suggests that employees believe casual dress codes place more emphasis on an individual employee’s achievements and allow self-expression. However, tread carefully. Dress regulation standards must be met and followed by everyone. The word ‘casual’ can conjure up many different stylistic images per employee, so set a precedent early on that, while certain dress items and behaviors are allowed, others are not. For example, jeans may be worn, but not if they’re ripped; athletic wear may be worn, but not sports team jerseys; sneakers can be worn, but not if they are muddied or torn. It may be hard to set dress guidelines without feeling like a school principal, but chances are your employees won’t push the boundaries too much in their apparel, anyway.
Dressing business professionally may be putting more strain on your employees than you think.
Often times, a new job can mean finding an entirely new wardrobe to fit its needs. But, buying the latest Banana Republic blazers may force spending on employees who can’t afford it. Instead of enforcing business attire, you can use casual wear as an opportunity for free branding. Allow your employees to dress casually by wearing a branded shirt once a week in place of a tie and button-down. This way, casual dress at work becomes mutually beneficial for your employees and the company.
The workplace is evolving. Evolve with it.
Your company can refuse to create a website, refuse to utilize social media, and refuse to participate in post-work cocktails. Or, your company can continue to grow and adapt with a rapidly changing workforce and society. Straying away from the typical, Wall Street business model may be exactly what your company needs. While enforcing casualness at work may seem like a small change, it may just be the one thing that sets your business a tier above your competitors.