Dress code in the office

An office worker preparing for a return to the office shares his thoughts on office workwear
In March 2020 when Boris Johnson told us all to “work from home if you can” our office pretty much closed instantly with everyone packing up their items, loading computers and monitors into the back of the car and setting up what we believed to be temporary offices at home.
Since that day, I confess, my black loafers are gathering dust in the cupboard as slippers become the footwear of choice and my tie rack has made it all the way to the back of the wardrobe along with the summer t-shirts that stopped fitting me long before the pandemic came along.
This year we are being encouraged to return to the office, initially for at least two days a week, but, all being well, the plan is to get back to having everyone back as we were, which makes complete sense because our business has definitely lost some of its creativity through the lack of human interaction and those off the cuff conversations that can lead on to something great.
So it is back to the office, but what do I wear?
At home, as well as the slippers, I always wear jeans or joggers and then typically a t-shirt or jumper (much the same as I do on a weekend), occasionally putting on a shirt if I have an important call with a client. Even on the odd days when I have been into the office over the last couple of years, the dress code has been relaxed with suits and ties replaced with smart jeans and casual shirts. Is that the new normal? When you think about it, has the world not moved on from this formal clothing at work, much as it has in the rest of society – I always remember my Grandad wearing a shirt and tie for Sunday lunch and when he went down to the pub; is it a generational thing, has time moved on?
The counter argument is of course that a smarter appearance leads to smarter thinking and a sense of belonging to a workplace, it also avoids any potential discriminatory issues when it comes to deciding on a company dress code policy. You often used to hear businesses asking men to wear a suit and tie yet give women the more ambiguous order of “business dress”. This can cause issues. On the one hand, women could argue that they have more margin for error because their dress code is vague. On the other hand, men could be upset that their dress code is more rigid and gives them less choice.
The coming months will tell what direction our business goes in on this subject, I think we will end up with a new recommendation that will reflect the way the pandemic has changed our working lives forever. Pre-pandemic very few of us had heard of the word furlough, social distancing was a long trip for a night out and we had no idea what hybrid working was; very soon we will all be dressing “business casual” in the office – you don’t have to wear a suit and tie, but maybe a collared shirt or jumper on top, with slacks, khakis, chinos, or a pencil skirt on the bottom. Jackets are optional. For the sake of fellow workers, shoes should be closed toe and professional, whether they are boots, heels, flats, loafers, oxfords, or mules.
One suggestion that has been put forward in our office is the introduction of lanyards with our names and departments on them. We already have key cards to access certain areas of the building, if we all wear these on branded lanyards will that help to serve as some sort of uniform? If everyone wore smart clothes – No ripped jeans, shirt with a collar – I think that would create a comfortable and productive working environment.
Whatever the future holds, I think dress code is going to become less important. Safety and the well-being of our employees and colleagues has become so much more important than how they look; long may that continue.

More To Explore

A Lifesaving Investment

In today’s fast-paced world, workplace safety isn’t just about adhering to regulations; it’s about being prepared for any eventuality. Among the most critical investments an