British workers are embracing a more relaxed approach to office attire, with a third (33%) admitting to working in their pyjamas, according to data from global hiring and matching platform, Indeed.
The survey, which included responses from over 1,000 workers and 500 employers in the UK, revealed that employees are donning pyjamas an average of 46 working days per year, and shockingly, one in 12 workers admit to wearing pyjamas every single working day.
However, not everyone is thrilled about the casual trend. Nearly half (44%) of employers believe that, since the onset of the pandemic, workers have taken the concept of casual dress too far.
A significant 29 percent of employers have either enforced a strict dress code or expressed the desire to do so.
Employers expressed their discontent with certain casual attire, with jogging bottoms or leggings deemed inappropriate by 44 percent, closely followed by trainers, labelled as unsuitable by two in five employers.
Messy hair also ranked high on the list of inappropriate work appearances.
Who is the most fashion-conscious?
Interestingly, the survey highlighted a generational divide in work attire preferences. Generation Z, those aged 18 to 24, emerged as the most fashion-forward group, with 45 percent choosing professional business attire when meeting clients, compared to a mere 15 percent among those aged 35 and older.
Moreover, 22 percent of Gen Z workers opt for professional clothing in the office, twice the rate of 25 to 34-year-olds, and four times that of those aged over 35. When meeting colleagues, 18 percent of Gen Z members defy the dress code by dressing more formally, contrasting with a mere 6 percent of those aged over 55.
Despite the apparent casualisation of the workplace, employers noted a paradoxical shift in attire since the pandemic. Work attire has become more formal during face-to-face meetings with clients and stakeholders but has taken a more casual turn when interacting with colleagues.
The survey also delved into the changing landscape of workplace norms, with 53 percent of workers admitting to wearing something scruffier on their lower half during video calls while maintaining a smarter appearance on top. Female employees, in particular, exhibited a shift in beauty norms, as three in five admitted to skipping makeup when working from home.
Casual work attire is on the rise
However, the data suggests a level of flexibility and acceptance among employers, with 86 percent acknowledging the importance of staff expressing their identity through their clothing. The majority (75%) of employers see a growing acceptance of casual work attire, including items like trainers, jeans, and facial piercings.
In a surprising turn, tattoos have also become more commonplace in the workplace, with two-thirds (67%) of employers considering them the norm. Over half (52%) of employers feel visible tattoos have become more acceptable over the years, and a significant 66 percent claim that tattoos are unlikely to affect hiring decisions.
Danny Stacy, UK Head of Talent Intelligence at Indeed, commented on the findings, stating, “Workplace norms have changed since the pandemic, affecting how people present themselves. It’s encouraging to see the majority of employers now recognising the importance of staff self-expression.”
Stacy added, “Employees should take their cue from their organisation’s culture, and as the research indicates, from the city slickers of tomorrow, Gen Z, who readily smarten up for clients and colleagues.”
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.