Re: dress codes

Subject: Re: dress codes
From: David Hamilton <david -at- URSUS -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 21 Oct 1993 10:50:32 PDT

> About dress codes... There is some evidence that the actually DO increase
> productivity. Formal codes may not be needed, but it seems that when
> people dress "professionally" it reminds them that they're there to work...

Dress "codes" vary according to the industry and region. A company
instituting a formal dress code here in Silicon Valley would quickly
find that it no longer had to worry about hiring the most talented
employees, since they seem to be more interested in being judged by
the quality of their work. They could then focus on hiring the most
stylishly dressed of the leftovers.

To refer to formal and stylish dress standards as dressing
"professionally" is an interesting tactic. I'm sure that some of the
best software engineers (who command six-figure incomes and produce
great products) cannot be considered "professional" because they
choose not to dress like salespersons or attorneys. The same is true
of technical communicators.

Here, the people who create products dress as they please. Those that
wear they ties are probably here to service the equipment.

While presented rather harshly, my point is simply that styles of
dress vary by industry and region. In some regions, salaried
employees wear ties to show that they are not union laborers. In
others, women are forced to wear only dresses and suits, regardless of
the weather or working conditions.

Annecdote time: A few years ago, while managing a small contract
shop, we got a call from one of the big three auto companies to rescue
of development effort that was in deep trouble. Their staff of
be-suited hardware/software/docs "professionals" had spend 2 years on
a critical project and there was no apparent progress. They called us
in, gave us an incredible deadline, and paid an equally incredible
fee. Our job was to do in 120 days what their staff had been unable
to accomplish in 2+ years - our team of 8 was to do what the staff of
40+ had not been able to do.

We had cots set up in a side room, had caterers show up 3 times per
day, and had a "gopher" doing nothing but picking up laundry,
toothbrushes, and other routine tasks, so that we could all devote our
attention to the job at hand. There was a six-figure bonus if we
accomplished the goal, so these incidental expenses were relatively

Half-way through the project, a vice president of engineering stopped
by to see how things were going. He saw programmers walking around
without shoes and a tech writer wearing a tie dyed T-shirt, and pulled
me aside. He pointed to the company engineers with their suits and
ties and asked me if I noticed any difference between them and the
folks I had brought in for this job. I told him the guys in the suits
looked bored. He looked frustrated and pointed out the style of
dress. He told me that he wanted my crew to do their jobs, but to
look like the engineering staff that couldn't handle it.

I had been working for 22 hours straight, at that point, and found the
situation to be amusing. I'll freely admit that I didn't have my
management hat on straight, when I said, "We signed a contract to get
a job done for you. If you would prefer, we can quote a new rate to
do the same job in any costume you choose." He turned a little red,
then said, "Never mind," and walked away.

We finished the project within the "impossible" schedule, the company
met the new federal standards, we collected our big fee plus bonus,
and moved on. The staff with their suits still looked bored.

Now I ask you, who were the real "professionals" in this situation?
Given that, which was the more "proffessional" form of dress? If we
had put on the costume and hung around the coffee pot like the company
staff, would that have made us more "professional" or less?

I won't even get into the productivity issues of the offices I
demanded for my crew vs. the cubes of the suit and tie set, because
that is an (almost) completely different issue...

I'm curious about the study you mentioned that claims that wearing a
specific costume increases productivity. I would expect that, if this
was really the case, the most productive day of the year would be
October 31st. :-)

David Hamilton david -at- ursus -dot- com
Ursus Information Technology, Inc. Santa Clara, CA

Previous by Author: Re: Q: Converting Word Doc to ASCII for E-Mailing
Next by Author: Re: Technical Wrinting VS. Technical Marketing
Previous by Thread: Re: Dress Codes
Next by Thread: Re: dress codes

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads