Does Casual Dress Affect Productivity?

Last Updated Sep 10, 2008 5:30 PM EDT

1343735207_b7253754a5_m.jpgIf you're dressed in formal businesswear, will you be more productive than your more-casual co-workers? Depends who you ask.

One side of the debate holds that sloppy dress leads to sloppy work. Laura Harris described how her nonchalant dress led to a decrease in company enthusiasm and productivity. Some studies have found that executives believe attire affects productivity and can hinder career advancement.

And a few years back, a poll found that tardiness and absenteeism increased at companies that adopted dress-down policies. There's also the feeling that sloppy or skimpy dress can be distracting to co-workers, can lower productivity and negatively affect customer service.

However, most of these assertions come either from opinion polls or are anecdotal, and there is little hard evidence in the way of earnings reports or declining stock values to support these conclusions.

On the other side of the coin, this summer's FPC Workplace Web Poll of 9,015 employees across all industries indicated that 60 percent of senior managers think going back to corporate dress would be a step backward and would actually hurt productivity.

Other surveys found that casual dress improved employee morale, that dress-down days had a beneficial impact on employee performance, and that a low-key dress code would be received by employees as an added benefit.

Presumably, another perk is that workers would have to spend less money on their wardrobes. More take-home pay saved might mean more warm fuzzy feelings about your job, hence more motivation.

What's your take on this? Post a comment, or participate in the poll below.

[poll id=22]

(image by ninjapoodles via Flickr, CC 2.0)

  • CC Holland

    CC Holland is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and a number of national magazines. Online, she was a columnist for AnchorDesk.com and writes regularly for Law.com and BNET. On the other side of the journalism desk, she's been a managing editor for ZDNet, CNet, and KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, where she earned an APTRA Best News Web Site award.