YES I'm all for flip-flops or whatever neat casual clothes people want to wear – not because I'm a hippy but because it makes business sense. Picture a man in a suit and a man in neat, casual clothes next to him. Who are you more predisposed to talk to? Business is about getting groups of people to sell, buy and deliver your product or service and communication is essential to all of these groups. Appearing more approachable will make it easier.
Those opposing this view are likely to talk about discipline
– claiming that if you put people in suits they behave better.
Having run teams who do and don't wear suits I can tell you
– from a productivity and a behavioural point of view – that
there is no difference in what you get people to wear. It's how
you manage them, the remuneration plan, and your recruitment
and induction plans that make a difference.
Most business should be conducted over the phone and via digital communication to save time, money and energy. This also frees up time to meet more regularly with clients and prospects. If nobody sees you there's no need to dress smartly.
Overtly smart dress is also impractical. In the summer suits are too hot, in the winter not warm enough. It's fine if you're chauffeured to your place of work and then sit behind a desk all day – but, realistically, who does that?
Marc Munier is commercial director of marketing agency Pure360
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NO I've always lived by the rule that you can't conduct business in that manner. I'm not saying that everyone has to be suited and booted the whole time but smart attire is a must. I don't wear a suit and I especially don't wear a tie. But I'm always smart and well turned out, which is important.
The media is inadvertently full of people in flip-flops, shorts and T-shirts but I've never found this to be productive attire for employees so I don't allow that within our company, even though a lot of the agencies do. Outside the media industry, however, I think it's totally unacceptable.
It's similar to getting up in the morning – if you wake up at 6am every day then you're likely to be a lot more productive than if you get up at 9am and stroll in to the office at 10.30am.
First impressions are also very important. If you look smart and well-groomed when you show up to a meeting or a client is visiting your office then it says a lot.
It's a psychological thing more than anything else. If you're dressed smartly then it will help put you in the right mindset for working but if you're dressed in a scruffy manner you will probably be less focused.
Your clothes also say a lot for the organisation you work for. If you walked into a company full of scruffy-looking people would you think that was a quality business? Probably not.
Chris Bull is founder and chief executive of Selective Media