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Workers at home told to "smarten up" on video calls

3 May 2022

A new survey has found that more than half of British bosses think their employees should be dressing more smartly when working from home.

A poll of 120 employers and 1,500 hybrid workers across the UK, conducted by Offices.co.uk, has found that employer concerns about the way their staff dress when working from home are so pervasive that almost half of bosses are thinking about introducing a hybrid working dress code. However, the vast majority of employees don't want to adopt formal dress codes when working from home.

The poll findings show that 65% of bosses think employees should dress more smartly when they work from home and 55% say remote workers should dress more smartly on video calls. As a result, 48% of employers say they are thinking about introducing a formal dress code for hybrid work and 71% of employers say they would consider providing branded attire to promote a consistent dress standard for the business.

Half of the employees (53%) polled admit that they do dress down when working from home - although 35% say they put on a special top for video calls. Even so, 89% say they would be "angry or offended" if asked to dress more smartly while working from home. In fact, 64% say that there is no need to dress smartly for work anymore at all and 42% said that a formal dress code would prompt them to look for a new job.

The poll also asked bosses about specific types of clothes and found that jeans are widely seen as acceptable work wear, with 87% of employers happy to see their staff in denim. However, sportswear, yoga and gym clothes, shorts, branded hoodies and t-shirts and torn or frayed garments are all frowned upon by most employers.

When it comes to video calls conducted from home, 81% of employers say that they would like their employees to have a more professional background. Many people don't turn their camera on for video calls, however, and the findings show that 62% of employers say they would like staff to always be visible on work calls.

Johnny Ratcliffe, md of Offices.co.uk, said: "What's clear from this topic, from an employer's perspective at least, is that things have changed and it looks to be permanent. Hybrid work where the week is split between the office and working from home is now widely considered to be the new normal. But with that, some employees seem to have carried over some lockdown attitudes towards dressing professionally that simply don't seem appropriate anymore. We're not forced to work remotely anymore, it is a benefit, so British bosses are possibly not wrong to be asking workers to present themselves a bit smarter now."

However, he added: "To be fair to British office workers right now, since the pandemic hit, the British high street has undergone some major changes with the likes of TM Lewin going into administration in the last fortnight for the second time, and also major chains such as Marks & Spencer removing most of their work and formal wear from all but select stores, so it is actually harder to dress smarter for most, even if they wanted to."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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