Changing the Attitude of a Demotivated Office

Do the clothes make the man? Perhaps not, but they can certainly change perceptions.

Recent discussions with a variety of office managers led me to the conclusion that perhaps, in a desire to have an open and comfortable environment, the lack of protocol in the offices exacerbated the issues with motivation. Protocol has a variety of components, including accepted arrival and departure times, accepted socializing, and dress code. While these and other aspects of office protocol are important, the one which is the subject of today’s article is dress code.

Some might say I’m not the ideal author of a policy on dress code. The average day will see me wearing dress pants and dress shirt, even when working from my home office. I’ll occasionally wear a polo shirt, or khaki pants, but rarely if a meeting with a client is anticipated. With a personal preference for more formal attire, I am certainly biased in that direction. However, I will attempt to justify my preference in such a way that you may gain insight from my opinions.

When showing up to an environment which tolerates apathy toward personal appearance, it is difficult to motivate yourself toward success. When your appearance reinforces the indifference of the office toward appearance, the appearance becomes the reality. After a while, when difficulties are encountered, it becomes increasingly difficult to find motivation.

While perhaps formal attire goes overboard, and certainly if employees are not being exposed to clients it becomes difficult to put an emphasis on dress, it is, nonetheless, a valid point of protocol. People looking at themselves in the office should see pride in their appearance, should exude a professional image.

They should also see work as a place that is not home.

Employees should be comfortable in their work environment, but that does not extend to include total indifference toward appearance. They should be aware, at least, that they are in an environment that has expectations from them, which does require their contributions to the best of their abilities. They should be aware that indifference and apathy are not desired traits, and that efforts are being made to reduce those.

Finally, if the office is suffering from a lack of motivation, changing the dress code can serve as a constant visual reminder that changes are underway, provided, of course, that other changes are being made. The visual reminder can put an emphasis on the new, an emphasis on the future.