Is there a link between workwear and productivity?

3 October 2016  |  Geoff

Many different businesses have their own rules on appropriate dress in the workplace. This could involve an actual uniform or it could be a slightly looser dress code, such as smart-casual or business smart.

The exact requirements will vary between sectors and individual businesses of course and may at least partially depend on the expectations of the client or customer base. A funeral director and a builder will probably want to give off entirely different first impressions, although both should suggest they’re good at their respective jobs.

But does the way we dress affect how well we do our jobs? Some psychologists suggest that it might.
Dr. Karen Pine, fashion psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire told Forbes: “When we put on an item of clothing it is common for the wearer to adopt the characteristics associated with that garment. A lot of clothing has symbolic meaning for us, whether it’s ‘professional work attire’ or ‘relaxing weekend wear’, so when we put it on we prime the brain to behave in ways consistent with that meaning.” There are few scientific studies backing up the theory that dress code boosts productivity, however, and some businesses such as Google make a virtue of their casual work attire.

One of Google’s company philosophies is ‘You can be serious without a suit’ and that tenet certainly hasn’t done them any harm.

When it comes to businesses with specific safety requirements however, the correct workwear is a must. Some businesses are happy to let individual workers wear different brands and types of clothing as long as they each meet the proper safety requirements. This can be a bit haphazard, meaning each item has to be checked or gauged for suitability. A more uniform approach to workwear can help ensure that each and every member of the workforce is always dressed appropriately for their role.

There’s nothing to say that modern-day safety-minded workwear cannot look both professional and stylish. It’s an essential requirement in many businesses but if there’s even a chance that dressing correctly can also boost productivity then so much the better.


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