With Memorial Day in our rear view mirror, summer is finally here! That means vacations, flexible work schedules and a relaxed dress code, right?
I was in NYC this week for a client meeting and was sitting in a café eating breakfast. There was a group of individuals at the table next to mine and it was obvious that they were preparing for a presentation. Everyone in the group had on dark suits, white shirts and/or blouses and ties. The same goes for here in Washington, DC., as it tends to be very conservative looking. However, I have a colleague who is based in Silicon Valley and won’t be caught dead in a suit and tie. Even when he travels to Washington, DC, “dressing up” means putting on a sport coat over his jeans.
What’s right? What’s not right? What works for your organization? Why should we even care?
They’re all great questions that my clients and colleagues have all the time. With the pending summer months, discussions have revolved around what’s appropriate for summer? Should there be a more relaxed dress code? What is considered appropriate business attire?
Let me give some practical thoughts. There’s nothing wrong with a casual dress code in the summer, but it’s helpful to communicate what is appropriate and what is not appropriate. For example, jeans are fine, but jeans cannot have holes or tatters in them. T-shirts are acceptable, but they must have sleeves. Sun dresses can possibly work, but if it is the same dress you are wearing to a night club after hours, perhaps select another option.
The importance of clearly articulating dress code “Do’s and Don’ts” is that it avoids anyone claiming interpretation of what they are wearing due to other circumstance, i.e., an employee says that they are being reprimanded not for their dress, but for other motives.
Most importantly, know your business. If you have clients that regularly come into your office and you have an open office space, maybe a casual environment isn’t appropriate. Or, if you have regular meetings with individuals who dress casually, jeans and sneakers might be appropriate. There’s a lot of studies and individuals that advocate one way or the other on how dress codes impact workforce performance, happiness and productivity, and frankly, I’m not here to argue one way or not. If you think your employees can be professional, maintain their level of productivity and increase their workplace happiness by allowing a more relaxed dress code in the summer (or the entire year) go for it!
Happy summer all!