The COVID-19 pandemic changed the world in many ways. Perhaps the most significant change in the corporate world was working remotely. People grew accustomed to working from the comfort of their homes, and business casual attire became much more acceptable.
However, things are slowly going back to normal and employees are returning to the office. The big question now is: should the office dress code remain professional or should people be allowed to work in more casual wear?
A lot of offices don’t give much importance to business professional attire. They draw a line between business casual and professional and let employees decide the rest. While this undoubtedly gives more freedom to the employees, it also can leave them confused. What’s the acceptable attire for the office?
Business Casual vs. Business Professional: The Ultimate Battle
At the end of the day, your productivity matters—not what you wear. But that does not mean you completely throw caution to the wind. It wouldn’t seem very appropriate to wear your beachwear into the office, would it?
So what’s the better choice for business attire: casual or professional? Both have their sets of pros and cons. Let’s dig deeper into these attires and their impact.
A Bit About Business Casual Attire
There’s no fixed definition of business casual. It varies from company to company. Everyone has their own interpretation of it. For some companies, business casual includes denim while at other places denim is prohibited.
You can pick up context clues from your colleagues. And if you are new in the office, inquire from your contacts at the company about what they usually wear.
Typically for most companies, business casual refers to a sports coat with a button-up shirt and slacks for men. Women can wear a knee-length dress or skirt and pair it with a top and blazer.
But if your office has a more laid-back vibe, you can try something edgy. And it would definitely help to accessorize your attire appropriately.
Business Casual Pros
The question is, what benefit can an organization attain by allowing business casual on their office premises? Will it have any impact on productivity?
The most significant benefit of business casual is the flexibility it offers. Employees aren’t forced to shop for a particular type of attire. They have the freedom to wear what they feel comfortable in.
When an employee does not feel pressured to fit in or wear something they are uncomfortable in, they are more at ease. This encourages them to work with more zeal and enthusiasm.
Business casual also enables the employees to feel at home in the office. They have a sense of belonging, which instills loyalty to the company.
Business Casual Cons
Business casual is definitely not without cons. For one thing, a lot of employees might find it challenging to decipher the acceptable dress code.
They will constantly worry about looking out of place. Additionally, business casual can make your professional premises look more relaxed than you would like. It can give the wrong impression to your customers or clients.
A Bit About Business Professional Attire
Now that you know what business casual is all about, let’s shift our focus to business professional.
To put it simply, business professional is all about looking formal. Men are usually expected to wear dress shoes, dark-colored suits, and ties. Women usually wear a button-down shirt with a skirt or trousers.
Business Professional Pros
The most noticeable benefit of business professionals is that there’s no ambiguity. Employees don’t have to struggle to decipher the acceptable dress code since they know in clear terms what’s appropriate to wear at work.
Furthermore, dressing in business professional makes shopping easier. Usually, offices prefer their employees wear neutral colors with simple designs. Shopping for these is easier since you know precisely what to look for. It’s also a lot more convenient to put outfits together and mix different pieces.
Business Professional Cons
The biggest problem with a business professional is related to finances. Professional clothing is pretty expensive. Good quality suits for both men and women don’t come cheap.
If that wasn’t enough, it’s also challenging to find a well-fitting suit off the rack. Employees have to spend quite a lot on their wardrobe. Oftentimes, they even have to pay an additional fee for proper fitting.
Business professional attire offers limited flexibility to the employees in the office, let alone while traveling. There’s little room for expression. Additionally, employees don’t usually have the freedom to accessorize their attire.
Business Casual vs. Business Professional: Which Is Better?
And now we come down to the primary question. Which option is better? What type of rule should companies enforce regarding clothing?
The answer is, unfortunately, not that simple. Employees have to follow their company’s dress code. They are at the mercy of their employers. But what should the employers decide?
The best way would be to find a middle ground between business casual and professional. Make the distinction clear for the employees. Give them the freedom to find their comfortable clothing but don’t leave it up to them to interpret what’s acceptable.
Flexibility is good, but don’t let anyone get carried away. By doing so, you would ensure that no employee has to bear the burden of shopping for clothing they can’t afford. At the same time, you will also maintain a professional look within the office. At the end of the day, it all comes down to the image of your workplace you want to project.