Is office dress code outdated?


Today, it was announced that US bank Goldman Sachs is relaxing its employee dress code in a bid to create a more casual workplace.

But with the rise of flexi-hours and an increasingly millennial-led workforce, is it high time other companies followed suit and ditched ties for good?

The end of the 9-5 workday

In a memo, Goldman Sachs announced that due to the “changing nature of workplaces” the company has decided to introduce a “flexible dress code”. This means suits and ties are now optional.

The announcement read: “More clients are dressing informally, and many parts of our company are already business casual. If you’re seeing a client you should dress for that client.”

The new dress code comes two years after competitor JP Morgan eased its sartorial rules.

But the change could be down to the increasing number of people turning their backs on the 9-5 workday.

Increasing numbers of people are eschewing the traditional 9-5 workday in favour of flexi-hours [Photo: Getty]

A 2017 YouGov study discovered that only 6% of Brits work 9-5 with almost half of workers now opting to work flexible hours in order to juggle family and job sharing commitments.

Likewise, increasing numbers of employees are opting to go freelance.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of self-employed workers increased from 3.3 million people (12.0% of the labour force) in 2001 to 4.8 million (15.1% of the labour force) by 2017.

In order to keep up with changing times and the rise of the digital nomad, the likes of Goldman Sachs need to adapt in order to allow employees to dress for a job which can see them working from the local coffee shop one morning to the office come afternoon.

READ MORE: Virgin Atlantic ditches mandatory make-up rule for female cabin crew

The rise of Gen Z

According to the BBC, more than 75% of Goldman Sachs employees are millennials or Generation Z – that’s people born after 1981.

Having grown up amid the start-up boom with tech-savvy creatives in particular kick-starting their own businesses, they have a very different concept of an office dress code.

How many people do you spot on the morning commute in a pair of jeans à la Mark Zuckerberg?

READ MORE: Should women be forced to wear a bra at work?

So by easing the sartorial rule book, companies can please millennial employees and most importantly, entice young talent to join the firm.

A step towards gender equality

Goldman Sachs’ new dress code comes after news that Virgin Atlantic has ditched its mandatory make-up rule for female cabin crew.

A spokesperson for the airline said per Huffington Post, “We want our uniform to truly reflect who we are as individuals while maintaining that famous Virgin Atlantic style.”

In a further bid to bring the airline into the 21st century, Virgin Atlantic will now also offer female staff members trousers as part of their uniform.

Earlier this week, Virgin Atlantic relaxed its dress code for female cabin crew [Photo: Getty]

But while it’s admittedly surprising that it took the airline so long to introduce the measure, a number of London-based companies have yet to introduce a unisex dress code.

A recent study conducted by UK retailer Bonmarché discovered that 4.3 million women across the UK cannot wear trousers in their place of work with 37% of female workers based in the capital banned from the garment.

Millennials are the most affected with 21% of women not permitted to wear trousers in the office.

Only recently, Nicola Thorp sparked outcry after being sent home from her job as a temporary reception after refusing to wear high heels.

Despite a signature garnering 150,000 signatures, the government argued that existing legislation is “adequate” enough to prevent gender-based discrimination.

By ditching the business code, not only will companies be keeping up with the trailblazing millennial but supporting women’s rights in the workplace.

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