There used to be a time when you wouldn’t think of going to the office without wearing a jacket or a suit. Adding structure to your stature was a definite requirement. Business casual used to mean dressing down only on Fridays. I remember when ‘Casual Fridays’ first came about, people couldn’t wait for Friday! As long as what you chose to wear was neat and clean, anything was acceptable, (except jeans and flip-flops at most places). At some organizations, you had to pay for the privilege by offering a $1 or $5 donation to the corporation’s preferred charity. Regardless of having to make a donation, we couldn’t wait for Friday! All kidding aside, Casual Friday was highly anticipated.
Now business casual means something much more than simply relaxed attire. The business work ethic has also taken a hit with the adoption of a business casual culture.
Now it seems everyday is business casual. Gone are the starched shirts as well as the ‘starchiness’ of business. But, have you noticed that many in business are now casual in the way they communicate via email or within presentations to colleagues or bosses? Beyond a manner of speech, business casual has also infiltrated people’s attitudes and behaviours. In short, work dedication and commitment have also become casual.
You may be thinking that I am not a proponent of business casual. Although, you’d be wrong, business casual has always been the norm in my environment. In fact, I believe the casual agency environment was the model that corporate followed. However, the dynamics of the ‘casualness’ were and still are different in an agency. The environment, the clothes, the offbeat cast of characters – that’s what agency business casual is all about. The working attitude and work ethic were never affected by dressing business casual.
In corporations and businesses that were once very dependent on structure and uniform, the business casual movement has impacted the attitudinal quality and level of work. Along with shredding the professional (and often confining) business suits, business casual has actually created an altered environment. I for one am all for a relaxed environment in order to promote creativity, but not to the detriment of the work being done. Business operations still need to happen in a timely fashion, using streamlined processes achieving more than ‘good enough’ results.
What is your perspective on business casual? What do you think it is has meant to the business world?