Do dress codes have an impact on productivity at work?

Two men wearing different dress codes causal jeans and smart suit

This month, we debate the impact of dress codes on productivity at work. Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg recently revealed he wears the same casual clothes every day because it allows him to focus on more important workplace decisions. But is attire really a factor in employee output? Two directors offer their views…

YES Dress codes have an impact on productivity at work, says Barry Davies, practice director at DJM Solicitors

Barry Davies who argues for dress codes in the workplacePermanent casual dressing isn’t practical in the professional services sector, as it suggests a casual approach rather than the expected professional ones.

Productivity can come in different guises, based on what an employee has scheduled for that day, and different dress codes can be appropriate for different tasks. For example, if a lawyer is drafting a particularly long contract, they need to be dressed to be able to sit at a desk in comfort for a long period of time. But at a client meeting, we expect them to be smartly dressed in order to convey a professional approach.

There are benefits to dress-down days in terms of creative thinking and being able to work in a more relaxed manner. A dress code, in my opinion, should set out what is expected from an employee in different circumstances rather than a strict code for everyday wear. For example, it should set out how employees should present themselves during a day in the office, a client meeting, on a dress-down day, or during ‘fun’ charity fundraising days etc.

It is essential in communicating to employees what is expected of them. By taking away the difficult decisions about what to wear to work, they can focus on the tasks in hand, whatever they may be. @DJMSolicitors

NO Dress codes do not have an impact on productivity at work, says Tom Rosillo, operations director at Bring Digital

Tom Rosillo argues against dress codes in the workplaceAt Bring Digital one of our top priorities is employee engagement and we stand firm in our belief that if we ensure our staff are happy, then they will do the best work possible for our clients.

We do understand that, as a creative agency, there is a lot more flexibility when it comes to dress codes. The very fact that we work in a more ‘creative’ industry suggests that we can also advocate personal creativity and self-expression. This is not to say that more corporate businesses do not encourage freedom of expression but we do understand their need to portray a certain image.

Some of our employees still choose to wear business dress, and we would never criticise them for this. In fact, when clients do come in for meetings we do encourage staff to dress slightly smarter; after all, we do still offer a professional service.

But in terms of productivity, we find the main driver is job satisfaction. If an employee is happy at work, they are more likely to work harder, and more effectively. The decision to abolish the dress code is one that we have not regretted and we trust that our employees will continue to act with the utmost professionalism whether they are wearing jeans or a suit. @BringDigitalUK

Do dress codes have an impact on productivity at work? Post your comments below

About author

Hannah Gresty

Hannah Gresty

Until she left the magazine in August 2019, Hannah Gresty was the assistant editor of Director. She previously worked on a local news website and at a fashion PR company before joining the Director team as editorial assistant in 2016.

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