The days of business professionals wanting to wear a suit and tie to the office are long gone. Workers around the world feel that what used to be the standard-issue business uniform is now simply too formal.
New research by global flexible workspace provider Regus reveals workplace attire has become more casual, but employees should be careful not to go too far.
Canvassing the opinions of almost 40,000 respondents from 100 countries, including 349 professionals in Hong Kong, the research revealed a host of new trends in business attire, including:
Among Asian respondents, the inclination to dress-down in the workplace is generally higher than the global average. Japan, which is renowned for its strict corporate culture and hierarchy, is an exception. Japanese respondents still believe that dressing-up in a business environment is a way of showing respect and sincerity.
“Today’s office is radically different in many respects. Not only is the technology we use much more advanced, but less rigidly vertical hierarchies are in place. It’s hardly surprising that in this rapidly changing environment, people’s views on business dress codes have also changed, “said Natina Wong, Country Manager at Regus Hong Kong.
Opinion differs wildly when it comes to flip-flops. While globally only 14% respondents agree they are acceptable in the office, in South Korea over 75% workers think wearing flip-flops in a work environment is totally fine. In Hong Kong, the figure is twice the global average (28%).
Sandals are also a cause for concern in some geographies. Globally, about a third of respondents (35%) are comfortable wearing sandals to work. The picture is different in Asia, where 61% in South Korea and 58% in Mainland China are OK with sandals at work. In Hong Kong the sandal-wearing community is smaller (45%).
While track suits are ideal for the gym, around the world less than 18% of respondents gave this thumb up in the office. Again, Asia differs, with 72% of people in Mainland China and 45% in Hong Kong ticking track suits as office-appropriate garments.
“While a suit and tie remain standard in only few areas of businesses, jeans and smart-casual attire are now common well beyond the creative industries. Perhaps also influenced by Silicon Valley’s casual and much talked-about attitudes to work wear, workers now expect a more laid-back approach to office dressing. That said, there are still some important cultural boundaries and business people in most countries draw the line at flip flops and gym clothes,” Natina added.
Home workers in Asia also adopt a much looser dress code than their international counterparts. Over 32% of Hong Kong respondents confessed that they sometimes work in underwear at home and over 62% are likely to wear pyjamas, compared to global figures which were 20% and 43% respectively.
People in India (78%) and Mainland China (68%) expressed an even higher acceptance of wearing pyjamas at home while dealing business matters.
The good news is Asian home-workers with likes of Hong Kong (91%) and Mainland Chinese (98%) are more willing to smarten themselves up before video-call than their global peers (82%).