From Suit Pants to Sweatpants: Does a Dress Code Matter for a Remote Worker? | DistantJob - Remote Recruitment Agency
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From Suit Pants to Sweatpants: Does a Dress Code Matter for a Remote Worker?

Casey Shull
Author - - - 3 min. to read

For as long as jobs have existed, the type of clothing worn while working has been a distinctive indicator of a person’s profession. Airline pilots stand out in airline uniforms and hats. Members of the military are easily identified by their camouflage combat uniforms. People wearing suits and ties or jackets and dresses are often labeled as a businessman or businesswoman. However, the way a person dresses is more than an identifier in and of itself. How a person looks also affects how they feel about themselves. For physical safety and a peace of mind, a construction worker wears a hard hat; likewise, a scuba diver wears a dive suit. Both are used to keep the person safe, allowing them to perform with confidence, knowing that they are wearing the attire most suited to their work.

Clothing can significantly affect your attitude about work. Scientists have labeled this behavior as Enclothed Cognition, meaning that “the clothes we wear affect our behavior, attitudes, personality, mood, confidence, and even the way we interact with others.”

As the manager of a remote team you could be asking yourself, “Could it affect my remote workers’ performances?”

OfficeTeam district president Koula Vasilopoulos recommends putting thought into the matter:

“Non-traditional workplaces are becoming more common, creating demand for greater flexibility with hours, remote work options and attire. When it comes to dress codes, it’s important that employees have clarity.”

With this in mind, let’s break down whether or not a dress code could be a good idea for your remote team. And if you’de like to hire some remote superstarts, all you need to do is to drop us a line and we’ll take care of everything.

The Positive Effects Of Sweats

If you’re thinking of going the route of a “no-dress-code” policy, you won’t be alone. Managing Director of Royce, William Bauer told Entrepreneur:

“I could not care less [regarding work attire]. We prefer authenticity. As a matter of fact, we encourage creativity and individuality.”

Bauer goes on to say that he finds that allowing employees to dress as they wish helps them feel “empowered,” and more inclined to present their ideas to him due to the feeling of “acceptance.” The same could be true for your virtual worker. With distance often interfering with physical interactions, feeling free to make choices can bond your working from home worker to the company.

Many business leaders are recognizing that there are more important things to promote, like productivity, innovative ideas, and a good work ethic, to name a few. Financial giant JP Morgan blazed the trail for banking industries by relaxing their dress code to business casual in 2016. The change came about when CEO Jamie Dimon spent time in the rabbit hole known as Silicon Valley. He realized his company’s dress code no longer aligned with the emerging workforces, namely the millennials who are up and coming into the workforce.

As you build a remote team, bear in mind your talent pool will most likely come from the millennial generation, where freedom, innovation, and individualism are a significant part of what they expect from their jobs. Having a well-balanced culture amongst your remote workers will enable them to thrive. Does a Dress Code Matter for a Remote Worker

When Remote Workers Wear Suits

As the old saying goes, “dress for the job you want rather than the job you have.” It is believed that how you dress for work can have a major effect on your job performance, even remotely.

However, current studies are conflicted in this regard. In a study published in the Human Resource Development Quarterly, researchers Joy Peluchette and Katherine Karl came out in favor of suits.

Their study states that participants felt more “trustworthy,” “authoritative,” and “competent” when dressing in business attire. Author Mason Donovan is also in favor of suits over sweats. In his book The Golden Apple: Redefining Work-Life Balance for a Diverse Workforce, he asserts:

“Although a dress code may seem silly when you think about working from home, work clothes impact you on a business and personal level and can affect your career.”

By making an effort to dress in clothing appropriate to your profession, you can:

  • Prepare mentally for work
  • Signal to yourself when the workday is finished and you can change out of your professional clothes
  • Remind others you’re not to be disturbed when working.

For remote workers, one of the biggest concerns to date is boundaries. Without the physical action of arriving and leaving work, it can be harder to remember to quit after a workday. Advances in modern technology allow managers instant access to all their remote workers. This can be both a blessing and a curse. However, remote workers need to remember to shut down after work, something dressing up may remind them to do.

What Does Matter To Your Remote Worker

With the surge of technology and the desire to work anywhere, businesses are changing their policies in order to keep up with trends, including the idea of a dress code. As we’ve discovered, some are for it while others are not.

The most important thing for remote managers is to decide if you need to enforce a dress code.

If you decide to go to the dress code route, business casual is the popular choice. Companies in both the US and Canada conducted a poll and business casual won out, with 58% for the US and 63% for Canada.

Harvard Business Review interviewee Nicolas Bloom put it rather bluntly. When discussing the perks of working from home and dress codes he says, “ Just because you work at home doesn’t mean you can’t get dressed.”

For managers considering no dress code, keep in mind that you would be nurturing a culture that could be more attractive to younger workers. 40% of millennials polled cited Mark Zuckerberg as their business idol, a man whose business attire consists of jeans, a gray t-shirt, and a hoodie.

At the end of the day, consistency with your chosen policy will be key, along with leading by example. If you have trouble deciding, you could try one or the other and see which one boosts productivity. Certain remote workers may thrive by “dressing for success,” even if they’re ten feet from their PS4 Pro. Others may flourish under the freedom of dress as they choose in their private work environment.

Working remotely is a luxury more and more people are aiming for. According to a study by Intuit, by the year 2020, over 40% of the workforce will consist of gig workers, many turning to remote work.

As of April this year, 3.9 million people in the US were working remotely. Like updating your wardrobe, businesses need to keep an eye on what’s trending and where the workforce is heading. Fashion goes in, fashion goes out. Dress code, no dress code.

The one thing you can be sure of is the growing reliance on remote workers. For any company, it’s a perfect fit.

Casey Shull

Casey Shull is a freelance writer who works with DistantJob to research and synthesise the best remote work related content into practical, accurate and actionable guides and articles on how to improve remote leadership and better manage your teams.

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