Dressing like Harvey Specter or Jessica Pearson when you’re greeting clients on Zoom sitting in your own kitchen doesn’t feel as powerful as it should, does it? The Zoom shirt trend, on the other hand, has made employees feel less obligated to focus on freshly pressed fancy items and more on appearing professional while feeling comfortable at home.
Remote work has its charms and perks. It lets your employees unwind, take breaks, spend more time with their families. It also eliminates the need for business attire in its traditional sense, even though many youthful companies have abandoned the shirt-and-tie policy a long time ago.
Today, businesses allow their teams to define the dress code of the office for a number of reasons. Now that some offices are reopening and others are sticking to the hybrid or remote model, the question of dress code is on the table once more. Here’s what we can expect the new normal to bring.
Yes, there are boundaries to remember
Before we delve into the changes expected to emerge in the post-pandemic world of professional attire, let’s get one main thing straight: some limits will remain, no matter if you’re going back to the office or developing a hybrid business model.
Employees are still expected to follow certain fundamental rules. The “no flip-flops” rule isn’t there just out of whimsy. It’s there to ensure certain levels of safety. The same applies to other dress code rules that every business will stay true to no matter the pandemic.
Functional minimalism on the rise
Over the course of these two years, people have redefined their priorities and investments. Instead of expanding their wardrobe with suits and ties, workers are investing in functional items that help them do their jobs with ease. Even more so, many are building what is known as a “capsule” wardrobe with multifunctional clothes and accessories that they can wear for almost any occasion.
Employees are refining their collections of workplace wearables with essentials such as minimalist wallets that they’ll use for office work as well as events, once they are possible once more. It’s more relevant to have a place for business cards than to have ten different, uncomfortable ties you never wear. This mindset among workers is helping businesses focus on what truly matters in their industry.
The combination of comfort and purpose
Workwear has a unique place in dress code policies, especially if some of your employees perform duties that require protection and performance-focused wearables. Add to that the pandemic, and you also need to think about prevention and wearable accessories such as masks and shields.
Working with your teams and keeping in mind the necessary precautions prescribed by your government, start planning a fresh policy with purpose in mind. Your employees should be able to wear the clothing that lets them focus on work, and not on the discomfort caused by their high heels or tight-fitting shirts.
At the same time, make sure that you’re investing in attire that is designed for your particular industry. Protective, durable, and visible clothing can mean the difference between safety and increased risk of injury. It’s obvious that one size definitely doesn’t fit all when it comes to performance.
Letting the employees determine the policy
As time goes by, employees have more of a say in what happens in the workplace. Since they are the ones shaping the success of the business in question, it’s only natural to see their interest rise over such a matter as their own attire choices.
Giving your employees options is a great start. If someone wants to wear a turtleneck, then so be it, but if another employee feels better in a hoodie, that shouldn’t pose a problem if their job doesn’t require a uniform.
To recognize employee voices, brands and HR teams are now collaborating with employees on crafting dress code policies that reflect these recent changes. Over the course of several meetings, your teams can share their needs and views, while you determine the best way to move forward – nothing has to be set in stone.
Focusing on engagement over formality
Some companies place great stock in traditional dress codes that are associated with professionalism, a sense of decorum, as well as leadership. A person in an important meeting or a networking event representing your company ought to look presentable, so it’s natural that brands worry about appearances and impressions.
Today, however, a high level of formality is unnecessary, as the culture of professional exchanges has changed to be less stringent. In response, employers are also more inclined to ensure employee engagement by enabling them to express their own preferences over following strict, unnecessary protocols. Although flip-flops are a no-no, you can still do a good job wearing jeans and a clean shirt in a professional setting, and brands are happy to accommodate their teams.
Strictly speaking, the old dress code is most certainly out the window. Workers have shown a clear preference for a more relaxed, performance-driven approach over pure aesthetics. Arbitrary rules can no longer apply, especially if one cannot justify them with optimal productivity.
Businesses are now facing a unique transition to more casual, comfortable, yet pleasant attire and accessories that enable employees to feel good while working. Trends are quickly changing, but how companies keep up and which ones they implement will depend solely on your own readiness to make your teams happy and to let them voice their views.