Given so many of us are currently ‘meeting’ through Zoom in tee shirts and jeans, what will ‘normal office dress’ look like when we return to work?
As I write this column, New Zealand is fully settled into lockdown due to Covid-19.
My husband is next door in his office on one of his many client-facing Zoom calls for the day. He’s wearing shorts and a tee shirt, and although the person on the other side of the call will remain unaware of this, he’s also sitting there in bare feet.
This morning I was messaged by a client showing me her ‘Lockdown Outfit’ for the day – she too has a client meeting over Zoom – and it’s fair to say that although she has gone to some effort (she is at least wearing shoes), it’s not her usual senior partner corporate standard.
Meanwhile, Hilary Barry is leading the charge with her ‘Formal Friday’ wearing various ballgowns and formalwear which is a bit of light relief for people keen to have some fun during an otherwise fairly serious situation. As for me? I’m sitting here at my kitchen table still wearing the gym gear I put on for my morning walk.
There are few things in life that can effect a cultural change like we are currently experiencing in New Zealand. They are likening this particular moment in our history to a world war – something I confess to finding difficult to comprehend given I wasn’t around for the last one.
There is something I am curious about though, and that is given so many of us are currently ‘meeting’ in tee shirts and jeans, and getting on with the work we can do while not in the office, what will ‘normal office dress’ look like when we return to work?
Assuming working from home has been successful, will it make sense to go back to what we wore pre-lockdown or will we see a relaxation of dress codes? After all, hasn’t everybody seen you in your casual gear and the sky not fallen?
I genuinely cannot answer that with any real certainty, but I believe we’ll be keen to get back to normal (although apparently it won’t be normal for a while yet) working life.
As part of that, I think we’ll see a resumption of the dress standards that were set within our organisations pre-Covid-19. While many of us may be relishing the relaxed attire that not leaving the house brings, I imagine that many of us can’t wait to get dressed for work again – I’m definitely in that number.
Professional dress has always been an indicator of how we do things, as much as what we do.
Casual, sloppy dress has no place in a professional office and will continue to be unacceptable, whereas smart business dress will always indicate your attention to detail and desire to be taken seriously. It’s also about showing respect for your clients and the work they give you.
Obviously my day-to-day work sits mostly in the fashion industry and currently weighing on my mind is how many of our small boutiques (or even bigger kiwi brands for that matter) will still be around at the end of this.
At this stage, it’s anyone’s guess. What I will say with certainty is those that do survive this will need our support more than ever.
For that reason, if you’ve historically bought your workwear online or from offshore, I encourage you to support our local brands and designers wherever possible.