Work, no matter your industry, is all about optimising yourself and your workspace for productivity. Your office chairs and desks are probably designed ergonomically, so you can work for hours without strain. You’re given a computer and other equipment with software that let you do your job quickly with little to no error. And although these definitely contribute to your efficiency, there’s an underrated aspect of your job: the way you dress for it.
According to a 2018 Employee Benefits report by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), over half of the companies in the U.S. let their employees dress casually every day. About 62 percent allow their workers to wear casual clothes for at least one day every week.
A relaxed dress code is what employees want from their companies, too. Over 58 percent of employees want to work in companies with relaxed dress codes, an OfficeTeam study found. About 31 percent of them like being in business casual clothes, while 27 percent don’t want a dress code at all. It’s clear that employees like you care about how you dress at work.
Does casual wear or business attire really affect your job? If so, how?
Casual is King
Employees love relaxed dress codes. Apart from not being restricted to a uniform, it may have some efficiency benefits. According to a UK study, over 61 percent of workers find themselves to be more productive with a casual dress code. Plus, 80 percent of those who work in a company with a dress code find such rules unnecessary. It makes sense, as when you’re in clothes that you picked out, you’re more confident in your image.
You don’t have to worry about adjusting your tie or tucking in your shirt perfectly to look presentable.
You also get to express yourself with casual clothing, which improves your morale and creativity. And when you’re happier at work, the more productive you are, too. A study from the University of Warwick found that happy employees are 12 percent more productive than usual. One of the researchers stated that happier workers use their time more effectively, allowing them to work quickly without sacrificing quality. Their review of related studies also found that having a positive mood persuades workers to be more creative in their work, too.
Should You Still Dress Up When Working from Home?
Because of the recent pandemic, a lot of employees need to work from home. There aren’t any studies on the effects of changing to their business casual or formal attires when working from home. However, some people have tried it out and documented their experiences with it on outlets like the Wall Street Journal and The Guardian. The authors found that dressing up was actually beneficial to their productivity.
An organizational behavior professor from Cornell University told WSJ that changing into work clothes flicks a switch in your mind, changing it from home mode to work mode. You feel physically different in work clothes, so it tells your body and mind that you’re going to do serious tasks. Plus, having a proper men’s haircut from professionalsand good clothes are essential to looking fantastic in your Zoom Meetings.
Dressing Up is Important, Too
Although most workers prefer casual wear, dressing up has a few advantages as well. It mostly depends on the industry. A 2015 study published in the Social Psychological and Personality Science found that formal business attire improved their abstract thinking. This is the ability of a person to create generalizations based on different concepts and evidence, like understanding patterns that lead to a specific event. This type of thinking is especially important in solving problems at work. The researchers suggested that this may be because formal attires are linked to feelings of power.
Feeling powerful can make you confident to take on challenges and solve them.
Wearing a formal uniform may also increase your focus, according to a 2012 study from the Journal of Experimental Psychology. It found that people made fewer mistakes on attention-demanding tasks when donning a white lab coat. Those that were informed that they were wearing a doctor’s coat also performed better than those who were told that they were wearing a regular painter’s smock.
Dressing down and dressing up at work have advantages. For some people, being in a casual outfit helps them relax and feel more comfortable. They don’t have to worry about the way they look, so they can put all their focus on getting their tasks done. For others, dressing up gives them a confident and more serious mindset when it comes to their work. Try both to see which works best for you.