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DEBATE - Can One Company Uniform Suit All In Creative Offices?

Posted by Xamax on 05/12/17 14:41

Creative offices are unique. Your employees aren't anything like bankers or fast food workers, where uniforms are heavily imposed with no leeway whatsoever. You don't want to impact the level of creativity within your workforce either, as their productivity and morale might increase when they're wearing casual clothing. However, uniforms do have benefits, such as boosting morale, increasing efficiency and fostering a team spirit. So, can one company uniform suit all employees in creative offices? Or do the negatives of a uniform in creative offices outweigh the positives? Uniforms do work in creative offices, but only if they're done right.

creative employees in business meetingImage Credit: Pixabay

Make sure you talk to your team about the benefits of a uniform even for a creative business. Also, following the advice in this blog will let you create a uniform look for your team and ease any concerns which come your way.

As a business owner or manager, you want to run a successful organisation and one of the only ways that can happen is if your employees are happy. That's why it's important to find the perfect balance between implementing a uniform for everyone in your creative office, but not forcing it upon them so that they're miserable and lose the important creativeness they bring. In this blog, we're going to tackle some of the myths that come with having uniforms in creative office environments, and why it is possible to have a company uniform that suits all in creative offices. These include:

Although these can negatively impact your business and the creativity of your employees, there are ways around them which can benefit everyone involved.

1. "We don't want a uniform, the fits can be unflattering."

The Problem: There's no denying that unflattering uniforms can seriously hinder employee confidence, especially those that have self-esteem issues and feel more comfortable wearing their own clothes. This can then result in lack of confidence and productivity. What looks good on one employee might not look good on another, and employees might not be excited about the prospect of being forced to wear one style and fit.

The Fix: Unflattering styles and fits should be a thing of the past. This is because when you want your office to wear uniforms, you'll have somebody in HR or another personnel figure create a uniform policy. Part of that policy should include receiving employee input, where they can give their thoughts on the materials, colours and styles they'd want to wear.

That way, employees will be more excited to adopt a uniform where they have had valuable input, as it shows the company cares about what they wear and the conditions they're working in.

Plus, planning a policy with employees beforehand also means the unflattering fit issue can be fixed immediately, as you have the option to work with the right workwear supplier to create multiple styles. That way, employees still have the freedom to choose which items they wear to the office.

 

2. "I can't wear a uniform. It will create equality issues."

The Problem: The fact is, you can't force all of your employees to wear one style of uniform, as that can breach the Equality Act 2010. Part of what makes a thriving creative office with fresh ideas is the diversity of people from different backgrounds. And certain faiths have strict dress requirements. It's illegal to make someone wear something that will restrict their right to religious freedom. 

The Fix: As mentioned above, creative employees especially feel unique. That means you're still allowed to be very flexible for your employees, yet still implement a uniform within the workplace. Even though you're implementing a uniform policy, a degree of flexibility will be highly appreciated by employees because they'll appreciate that you're taking their faith into account and aren't enforcing any strict rules upon them. 

Flexibility with uniforms and faith has been seen in the sporting world too, with South Africa cricket player Hashim Amla allowed to not wear the exact same kit as his teammates, as the logo on the shirts is a beer companyRather than opening yourself up to discrimination cases, you can create multiple styles that suit employees of all faiths. Although the uniforms won't look exactly the same, you've still created a unified look where they'll all still feel as part of a team. 

3. "Wearing a uniform will affect my day-to-day activities."

The Problem: There's always a chance that employees will complain about a uniform affecting how they work. It's true, as a uniform can cause limitations to a particular role. For example, tight-fitting jumpers can limit arm movement or create unnecessary warmth. 

The Fix: Linking in with the first point, a uniform you implement within your business doesn't need to be a one-size-fits-all approach. Take weather and job roles into account. Create multiple styles that your employees can wear whenever they want. A handful might arrive wearing a branded, different coloured t-shirt that's part of your uniform while others might choose to wear your branded hoodies.

The point is, it's still part of a wider selection of uniform that you're making available to your employees. Employees might even suggest that they'd lose their creativity if they're not wearing their own clothes, but some well-known figures have adopted the approach of wearing a similar style each day to achieve success. Barack Obama admitted that he only wears grey or blue shirts to pare down decisions, as he has too many other decisions to make, while Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Apple chief Steve Jobs cited similar rationale. 

Creativity is still feasible and achievable with a uniform, especially since you can give your employees multiple options to choose from which they might be very happy with.

4. "We shouldn't need uniforms, they'll cost the company a lot of money."

The Problem: There's no way around it, uniforms for your employees and the whole office are going to cost money. Especially when you take into account that the bigger the team, the higher the costs. Plus, it's an expense for your company because you can't expect your employees to pay for their own uniform when you're the one wanting to make the change (though, legally, it's allowed that you ask them to pay). In addition to this, when you take into account the previous points and you want different styles and fits, the costs can increase.

The Fix: Uniform costs shouldn't be a concern to your employees. Yes, uniforms can cost a lot of money but the fact is, it works out cheaper when you're ordering in bulk. This way, it's beneficial and more cost-effective to provide employees with multiple styles, colour and fits so that they have options, while you're making savings. In fact, uniforms are a cheaper option when your employees realise that they're probably paying a lot more out of their own pocket for personal clothes, especially those that want to keep up with trends or feel the pressure of wearing new clothes every day.

There is an alternative to this, where you can create a unified look without actually creating a company uniform for the whole creative office to wear. A common myth is that business clothing is never stylish or as comfortable as regular clothing. However, more companies are beginning to use branded clothing for their office staff, with a wider range of styles available. For example, embroidered cardigans and other pieces of knitwear are becoming popular. Look at the "uniform look" used by this Australian bank, for example...

Westpac bank uniform by carla zampatti Image Credit

You can also achieve this. For example, your uniform policy might state that your employees must wear one piece of company clothing and they can choose from a range. One employee could choose to wear a sleeveless blouse with their own trousers, while another might want to wear a company jumper with their own footwear. Even though employees won't look the same, it's still a unified look as they are all wearing an item of clothing which has the company logo, something Westpac Bank in Australia have chosen to do.

5. "A uniform is going to send the wrong company message."

The Problem: It's easy to see why this claim would be a cause for concern. When you mention creative offices, the assumption is that employees are allowed to express themselves by wearing whatever they choose to. Them being comfortable means they might be at their creative best, and imposing a uniform could have a negative impact on that. Every creative team member brings something unique to the table, and a uniform could hold them back if they don't like it or didn't have input.

So some people might say.

The Fix: A uniform doesn't need to send the wrong company message, despite the creative aspect behind it. This is achievable if all of the above fixes are combined where your employees have multiple options to consider. It still gives them opportunities to express themselves and wear what they are comfortable in - within reason. This is a possibility because if they are part of the uniform policy planning stage, then they will have had valuable input, meaning they will have given ideas to HR about the materials, colours and styles they do and don't like.

This way, they're still having a say with what they want to wear - the only difference is that the company logo is being branded which makes them easily identifiable. 

So, which way has your decision swayed? Although there are always question marks raised about implementing uniforms in the creative workplace, there are methods in place that can help overcome those issues - yet still benefit everyone.

A Great Way To Grow Your Company And Create Team Spirit Is Through Company Uniforms

Check out our free guide on how to implement a uniform policy in your workplace. Uniforms can create an improved sense of teamwork, company values and unity. Make your employees feel valued by making them feel like an integral and important part of the company. Download your uniform policy pack today to get started with your new company image.

Uniform Policy Document Download

Topics: Uniforms, Uniform Policy, Company Uniform