Has Social Media Made You More Casual?

I can’t pinpoint an exact date or time when I started noticing more and more casual offices popping up, but I do credit it to the emergence of social media. Facebook and Twitter gave companies a more off-the-cusp way to communicate with consumers.

Instead having customer service representatives or official press release announcements, they have social media managers that get right to the audience. Communication is animated, casual, even enjoyable. That style has taken over how we do business online, and now, it’s moving into how we do the behind the scenes the work.

Facebook and Twitter are the norm rather than the exception. Social savvy recent college grads are entering the workforce. As we usher in a younger generation that’s taking the task force by the wrinkle-free hands, it was only a matter of time before their college-style wardrobe carried over from class to cubicle to corner office.

Mashable’s ‘Cubicle Spy’ series is highlighting some of the more creative places that people call their offices, and most featured have adopted the casual mantra. And just look at Google (pictured below). From the questions they ask to prospective employees to the worldwide offices and buildings they provide their employees with, Google is notorious for having a casual work environment. And from the looks of it (and the 91.4% market share it holds in the search realm), Google employees aren’t under performing just because they’re wearing jeans instead of black slacks.

So are we moving out of the era of dressing for the job your want and moving to era of dressing for the job that suits you?

People work better when they’re comfortable. And when people are comfortable, people are happy. And happy people make better employees. This isn’t ground-breaking information here, people. And no matter how much we may ogle over them, no one is happy wearing form-fitted pencil skits, oxfords and 4-inch heels all day. It’s just not in our genetics.

The whole idea of business attire and dressing for the job you have is antiquated. I don’t do any better work when I’m in a pencil skirt and heels than if I’m in jeans and flip flops. I’ve worked at two vastly different companies: book publishing and web development. The former had a certain set of “personal grooming guidelines” we had to adhere to. The latter, a more “come as you are” policy. While it was a hard adjustment to make going from business casual to comfortable casual, I had resigned myself to jeans and sandals by my second week. And it’s not a surprise that I now do better work and enjoy my work more.

I’m not talking about client meetings, presentations or job interviews. I’m talking about your every day office attire where you come in, do your job and (hopefully) go home. Every facet in life has those special occasions where you need to look a little more presentable; they call it our “Sunday best” for a reason, right? So why is the office any different?

What do you think? Do you do better work when you wear what you’re comfortable in? Should we file business attire in the same portion of our closets as our Sunday best? Or is casual attire only suitable for some types of businesses?

Erin Everhart is the marketing associate for the web design company 352 Media Group, where she specializes in social media marketing, search engine optimization and content management, working with some of the company’s most prominent clients. She’s also a freelance reporter for multiple newspapers and online sites and a frequent blogger. She holds a B.S. in journalism from the University of Florida and has an unhealthy addiction to salt and EM dashes. Follow her on Twitter :: @erinever.

6 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed reading this blog entry. I thought it was interesting you related our social media trends to the increasingly relaxed work environment. I watch the Travel Channel a lot and one of their shows featured fun work environments, such as Google and eBay. It definitely looked like somewhere I’d enjoy spending my time 40 hours a week. I think more office settings should be focused on making it a place employees feel at home, but still ready to work. However, I do wonder how people would interpret a “Sunday best” work attire. Could it eventually evolve into frumpy and inappropriate? Although I would love to opt out of wearing a restricting business jacket and unrelenting high heels, I worry how others would express “Sunday best.”

    Hillary Stroud
    Platform Online Magazine Student Editor

    • Google and Facebook have created work environments so that employees wouldn’t need to leave. They’re even going as far as offering free meals at the office. If they have everything (and I mean everything) why need to go home and risk stop working? Now, hopefully every office doesn’t go that far, but I can see how it would help productivity. As for Sunday best, I think even now there are people who dress frumpy and inappropriate to work so that would inevitably carry over.

  2. I think you need to give credit to “Dress Down Fridays.” I can remember these new dress code rules back in the late 80s and early 90s. Facebook to the masses and Twitter might have moved more offices to lean towards business casual in the 21st Century, but can’t take credit for the initial push.

    • Great point, Chuck. I never got to experience Casual Fridays in either of my offices, but that was definitely the start of things moving toward a laid-back work environment. Twitter and Facebook were just the catalysts.

  3. This is clearly a cultural thing, combined with your industry norms. Take France or Scandinavia: they’ve always allowed personal preference, for want of a better term. Groomed, yes – forced into a mold, no.

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