Casual Dress and Productivity: What’s the Bottom Line?

Here at ISCG, we have a very casual dress code. So casual, in fact, that jeans and sandals are commonplace at our office. For me, as a mom of a five-year-old and a one-year-old, this is at times nothing short of a little blessing. It means instead of ironing clothes every night I can spend time with my family. The shirt that was decorated with this mornings’ breakfast? It got tossed in the hamper rather than taken to the drycleaners.

I know a casual dress code can be a time saver, as it saves me at least a couple hours every week, but what are some other benefits of casual dress for the workplace and employers? Does it affect the bottom line?

Some benefits of casual dress include: morale, economic, positive self-expression and productivity. 

  • Morale: casual work environments can see a boost in morale as employees feel less anxiety about their appearance. 
  • Economic: Having a casual environment puts less of a financial burden on employees as casual items tend to cost less than professional ones. 
  • Positive Self-Expression: Casual dress can send positive signals to employees that their self-expression and different opinions matter. 
  • Productivity: Feeling comfortable in casual dress can reduce these feelings and increases focus, giving you a more productive workplace. 

In excerpt from the New York Post, Chris Bailey, author of the “Productivity Project” explains it well….

“That’s why he says that, when dressing for productivity, decide if your goal is to feel more confident or relaxed. “Wear the clothes that make you feel [how you want to feel]. Confidence and comfort are both ingredients we have at our disposal that allow us to become more productive. And in most situations, one will help us more than the other.”

Mike Slepian, adjunct assistant professor at Columbia Business School and author of 'The Cognitive Consequences of Formal Clothing' explains that; "Casual clothing makes workers think less abstractly and more concretely — useful for completing tasks focusing on details such as writing code or planning a product launch. With formal dress, on the other hand, you feel more powerful, because they’re not the type of clothes you’d wear with friends. That makes you feel more distant, more removed and [allows you to] think in a higher [level].”

It is important for each company to define what is acceptable. For some organizations it's jeans and a sweater, for others yoga pants and an over-sized sweatshirt. The bottom line: dress and productivity depends on your culture. It’s up your organization to determine what you find acceptable. Within your organization’s perimeters; wear what makes you feel most comfortable and confident and you will be the most productive.

What type of dress code do you find fosters the most productivity for your office?

What type of dress code do you find fosters the most productivity for your office?