Despite the recent rainy spell, the UK has seen its highest temperature for June for four decades. And with temperatures set to soar to record heights throughout July, the question everybody is asking is, what exactly you’re supposed to wear for work when the mercury is hitting 30 degrees?
The TUC have recently waded into the debate, urging firms to temporarily relax their dress codes, and are lobbying for a complete change in the law regards worker rights in extreme temperatures – news which will be music to the ears of male workers especially right now, as they are often expected to maintain traditional suit and tie to work, despite female colleagues being more easily able to switch to smart lightweight alternatives.
If you impose a dress code on your employees then it’s worth considering whether it needs to be revised over the summer months. It’s the kind of thing that you won’t regularly give much thought to, but when the baking heat hits us, it’s the only thing that your staff can talk about.
You might decide that it’s the reasonable thing to do to allow your staff to relax their uniform a little bit. Whether or not this is really appropriate though will come down to the role that they have in your business, the nature of the service you offer, and how much contact they have with your customers and clients.
Health and safety is a key issue here, and sometimes, hard hats and steeled capped boots might just be 100% necessary. Comfort is important, but keeping your staff away from danger should always be your number one priority. If they’re struggling to carry out their roles because of soaring temperatures, then you need to reconsider how their days are mapped out and what you can do to support them.
Presentation is another concern but it’s worthwhile to think about the individual circumstances of your organisation. If you run an accountancy firm, and your staff are meeting corporate clients then smart dress is obviously appropriate. But if you’re a small clothing retailer with a hip clientele who come through your doors to access the latest fashions it’s a different story. Back in 2014, Starbucks took a u turn on its anti-tattoo policy, and finally accepted that no one really cared if their barista was adorned with body art – and that actually, many of their customers would prefer it.
There’s an interesting conversation to be had here about your employees serving as a mirror to your customers, and how similar styles can foster better rapport and more trust.
The key takeaway? Dress codes are sometimes important. But the safety and comfort of your staff are paramount. Don’t get stuck in old ways of working that might not be serving your business.