Working culture in America was once at a point where people didn't even think about wearing anything but solid-colored suits and blouses to the office. Somewhere along the line, arguably in the 1990s, things began to change. More employees started to participate in casual dress in the workplace and substituted their tailored suits for blue jeans and khakis. Credit for the birth of this movement is often given to West Coast companies like Levi Strauss, Liz Claiborne and tech corporations in the Silicon Valley, who introduced casual dress to encourage comfort and creativity in staffers.
In 2015, casual dress has become more of a norm in the working world. Companies that would have been filled with black suits in the 1970s now let employees express their creativity with their wardrobe. For example, Google doesn't even enforce a dress code policy. Introducing a casual dress code in your office may be worth considering. But you should take a look at some of the positive and negative effects of casual dress in the workplace first.
The reason that casual dress has taken over is because it can be cited as the source of a better overall work experience. The first benefit that can be noted after introducing a casual dress code is an improvement in employees' morale and creativity. Allowing employees to be themselves and wear clothes they're comfortable in gives them more freedom and gives them the ability to focus more on their work. If employees are required to dress a certain way, they may devote a lot of energy and time to making sure they're meeting company dress standards that could be better used elsewhere.
Other benefits to having a casual dress code are better health and economic savings for both the employer and employee. Showing that they want everyone to be comfortable helps companies improve relations among staff members, free of charge. It costs absolutely nothing for a company to let their employees wear what they feel good in while it could make them perform better at their jobs. Also, casual dress clothes are significantly cheaper than business professional clothing, which saves money on the side of employees. It's also believed that employees dressed in business casual attire are more likely to get up from their desks and walk around, which leads to an extra 25 calories burned a day. Though it may not be much, it's a good start to improving health.
Casual dress hasn't completely taken over the country's workplaces just yet – partially because it doesn't work for everyone. But it also has some potential drawbacks. It's been suspected that casual dress in the workplace has lead to an overall decrease in work ethic. Given the comfort level of employees in casual dress scenarios, some think they're less likely to work diligently because of their relaxed environment. Also, some companies may be viewed as unprofessional and lackadaisical if their employees work in casual attire. This is why certain industries still make business attire mandatory.
If you're considering adding a casual dress code to your office, it'd probably be wise to test the waters first instead of suddenly changing the company culture. Allowing employees to dress casually on certain occasions, such as holidays, casual Fridays or for special events, gives them an opportunity to figure out what works and you the opportunity to see how it affects their work and what kinds of things they're likely to wear. Some industries are more welcoming to casual dress codes than others, so you may also have to take this into consideration.