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…for a dress code to boost creativity…

THE technology boom in the US bought with it a new dress code.

The computer nerds now head up major international corporations, but the dot.com leaders have refused to conform to traditional corporate fashion.

Following the US lead, major Australian corporations have embraced a casual dress code or “mufty days”.

But what are the benefits of casual dressing for accountants and lawyers, and does dressing down produce a happier, more productive workforce?

Dr Alan Nankervis, senior lecturer human resources management Curtin Business School, claims technology companies believe casual dress allows employees to express themselves more fully.

This simple expression of individ-uality makes management appear to be encouraging difference, rather than uniformity.

The suit and tie is more closely aligned with the military uniformity, where as casual dress appears to encourage creativity and expressivity.

“A lot of traditional companies have come to add a bit of fun to the workplace, it’s to do with flexibility and recognition of individual prefer-ences,” Dr Nankervis said.

Management claims to have recognised the benefits of creativity and the individual skills each employee brings to the workplace, a more relaxed dress code is the physical evidence of this attitude shift.

“A uniform at work is not necessarily good, it doesn’t encourage creativity, it’s deadening rather than creative,” Dr Nankervis said.

“I think it does make a difference in some companies, if you’re in a creative team why not wear what you want, but I think it’s more symbolic than any-thing,”

Apart from any psychological benefits of casual dressing, Australia’s hot climate doesn’t lend itself to a heavy restrictive style of dress.

Dr Nankervis claims this new corporate dress code will endure in Australia despite the fickle nature of fashion.

“I think this will last, the younger generation seem less prepared to accept the rigidity of their elders,” he said.

“Ties are disappearing as an inappropriate symbol of restriction.”

While Australian business seems to have embraced a more relaxed style of dress, countries like South East Asia are unlikely to dispense with the suit and tie.

“The South East Asians are still very formal for formal occasions,” he said.

“Perhaps the future of corporate dress culture is a fusion of formal and casual.

“Mixed dressing like a suit and joggers or a suit and nose rings are becoming popular.”

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