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Formal vs. casual – which is best for office productivity?

While a nine-to-five job may have been synonymous with a three-piece suit and briefcase, now, many companies are happy to let their employees dress in business casual attire or what they feel comfortable in. Is it affecting productivity, though

The Switch to Business Casual

More than one in ten people in the 18-24 age group said that they had considered quitting their job due to a strict dress code. Therefore it might be worth removing the dress code to retain these staff.

It’s possible that it is the influence of younger workers in the office that has led to a shift towards business casual. It seems as though this age group is more protective over identity and style of dress, opposed to being told what to wear.

Business casual can be defined as a style of dress that is smart but not overly professional. For a man, this might be a slim fit shirt without a tie, navy trousers and loafers. For women it could be a smart blouse with cropped, tailored trousers and flat shoes.

The Effects of How You Dress

Research shows that what you wear can have a direct impact on your behaviour at work.

Subjects were presented with a white coat and told different things in one study. Those participants told it was a doctor’s coat felt more confident in accomplishing tasks compared to those that were told they were wearing a painter’s coat. Other research shows that wearing more formal clothing, like a tuxedo can result in broader thinking.

When it comes to productivity, most UK workers said that they would feel more productive and put more effort into their appearance if there wasn’t a strict dress code. This is according to a study by Stormline which further reveals that 78% of respondents to one survey said that they would still make an effort to dress well and wouldn’t blur the line between ‘work clothes’ and ‘non-work clothes’ if there weren’t any rules around what to wear.

What’s best for the business?

Based on the research we’ve taken into account, it’s clear to see that it depends on the employee as to whether or not they should follow a specific dress code.

It might very well depend on their role too, however, first impressions still, and most likely will, always count. For those employees who are in roles which have them coming into direct contact with clients, it’s important to look professional and approachable. These employees are effectively representing the business and so they should be making it look good.

It could make for a really good practice for businesses to ask their employees how they feel about uniforms and when they feel most productive. This could very well be the best indicator of whether a uniform is best for the business or not. As has been made evident, uniforms can have an effect on behaviour at work and it is down to the individuals as to whether they work best following, or not adhering to, a specific dress code.