Work naked for all I care

Yesterday morning started off on the wrong foot. I had some big, heavy duty projects to work on. When that’s the case, I usually dress more comfortably (not quite as comfortably as the guy on the left, but it’s definitely more fun than wearing a tie). I say it helps me focus better; it might be the placebo effect, but hey, the results speak for themselves.

Anyway, I walk in and within five minutes a few people have given me that horrified look. You know the one. I can just hear them thinking…

He’s wearing jeans!?! Who died and made him El Presidente? He must do shoddy work, sleep in a tent, and eat roadkill when he’s not here looking like a slob. That redneck hillbilly goofball gives us all a bad name. I’d call HR, but, well, he’s it!

I had to speak up, and I fell back on one of my favorite principles when it comes to work: ROWE. The Results Only Work Environment basically says that you can work whenever, wherever, and wearing whatever, as long as the work gets done.

Funny side note-when I was looking for a good picture to go with this (yeah, not my smartest Google search ever) I found a hilarious list of reasons to go to work naked. My top 3 favorites:

  • Inventive way to meet that special person in HR
  • Your boss is always yelling, “I want to see your butt in here at 8:00 am!”
  • “I’d love to chip in, but I left my wallet in my pants.”

On days when it’s necessary, I will happily throw on a tie and be all presentable. When I’m dressed in that manner I feel a different kind of focus, and I feel like it’s appropriate for some interactions (though not for the same reason as the famed red sweater Robin Schooling talks about here). However, even if I choose to wear jeans and a t-shirt doesn’t mean that my work product all the sudden turns to crap.

Am I the only one? Does anyone else feel more relaxed and better focused when dressing down? 

12 thoughts on “Work naked for all I care

  1. gabidallariva

    Hi Ben,
    I agree wit you 100%. Lucky for me I work in a place where dress code is not even a topic (I’m working from home in my pjs right now!).
    I see, though, 2 issues: 1) when the dress code depends on the manager more than company culture, then that particular group of people can feel demotivated/resentful. 2) employees who can’t “read” situations in terms of when suiting-up in not an option but a default.

  2. Trish McFarlane

    I tend to be an over-dresser at work. I think it comes from the biggest chunk of my career being at PwC at a time when “business dress” was the norm. That said, I do agree that when I really need to buckle down and plow through a bunch at work, dressing more comfortably and casually helps. Also, I tend to dress down depending on which department I’m meeting with . So, if I’m meeting with the facilities crew, I dress in a way that makes me more approachable. If it’s the CFO, I dress more professionally.

    I’m just glad you aren’t the guy in that picture! Happy Friday!!

  3. April

    I’m the opposite. For me, relaxed day where I’ll be catch-up on email, checking in with coworkers, and no meetings.

    If I’m wearing more formal work clothes, it focuses me better on moving work along.

  4. AdamAxon

    I think the comments here are a good reflection on just how different people are!

    I’ve always dressed down when it came time to brainstorm or create something. It just gets me in the mood!

  5. Chris Ferdinandi

    I’m 100% with you, Ben (though I’m sure that’s not a surprise). I have better focus and produce better work in jeans – though I’ll typically wear them with a sweater and/or button-down.

    It’s become a bit of uniform at my office. I’ve actually gotten compliments on it, particularly when I wear a suit jacket with it. Of course, it always depends on your organization’s culture. I work in an a company filled with both engineers and c-suite business guys, so the style of dress is quite varied. It’s not uncommon to see someone in a full suit walk by someone in shorts, a t-shirt and flip-flops.

    1. Ben Post author

      Hi, Chris! We run the gamut as well. Some people will never go below business casual, while some push the boundaries of “what I slept in last night.” :-)

  6. StaceyMSwanson

    Ben- love your blog!- and the reference to ROWE :) I think your viewpoint as well as the comments show that dressing a certain way to be focused is a personal preference. For some, dressy is better, and others, casual works great. When it comes down to it, it is the results that should count and not how you looked when you got there.

    1. Ben Post author

      Hey, Stacey! LOVE the comment “it is the results that should count and not how you looked when you got there.” Thanks for the comment!

  7. Melissa Fairman

    I’ve noticed that non-HR people seem to hold HR people up to different standards, which it looks like that played out in your situation.
    I experienced something similar once as well: I worked for a company with a very conservative, traditional culture, we (the HR group) finally convinced management it was okay to allow people to wear jeans on Friday, this was only two years ago. On the inaugural jeans day I wore jeans, (no tennis shoes)….yea I was the only person on the HR team wearing jeans! I missed the cultural cue that even though our policy said everyone could wear jeans, it was expected that HR wouldn’t wear jeans. Go figure!

    1. Ben Post author

      Think that was the case as well, Melissa. Our software engineers are dressed in whatever they find as they are walking out the door in the morning. :-)

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