Wednesday, June 22, 2011

To chino or mochalattecino - Business casual or a casual business?

With the summer solstice, and the official start of summer, most of us will be taking any opportunity to don our Aviators, let our hair down and slip on some flip-flops, bangs or thongs to catch some regenerative rays of solar radiation.

Even if, like me, it's just for a few minutes, eating a sandwich and supping a mochalattecino from the Starbucks on Westlake & 9th, sat on a bench in Denny Park.

But what happens in that stuffy office?

How many of us see our staff adopting a more relaxed dress style as the weather hots up, as a result of a corporate policy for less formal attire in the summer months? How many of us senior executives ourselves start wearing the internationally-accepted standards of business casual?

All too common are the chino pants, brown brogues, plaid shirt and tweed sports jacket (leather elbow pads optional). Not forgetting, of course, for us real snappy dressers the all-important panama hat, de rigeur for those offsite summer parties and visits to the box to watch the game.

But many of us all too often see those standards of dress in our co-workers start to slip. And when - Fred Cuellar forbid - even us leaders start donning deck shoes (with no socks!) instead of proper lace-ups, are we concerned that, rather than wearing business casual, we might actually be starting to run a casual business?

In the modern era of wireless networking none of this should matter. Some of us prefer to wear a business suit, whilst many adopt more comfortable attire. Each corporation, each market has its own conventions that work just fine for most of the year.

So why make temporary changes of policy? Even for single events or conferences. This just causes confusion and embarrassment, especially to employees new to the business or international secondees just off the plane.

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