Fi Hybrid Dress Code(1)

Do Companies Need a Hybrid Dress Code?

Published by
29th January 2024

Working in a remote or hybrid setting has entered the mainstream for the world of work.  Navigating applications like Zoom and Teams has become routine, water cooler chats rely on DM, and family members or pets are a common sight while working. That said, there are still the occasional mishaps. For example:

A few years ago, a group of legal workers were discussing a civil procedure over video call when their colleague Ben rose from his seat to reveal that he was, in fact, stark naked. In a similar and more recent blunder, a Social Democratic councillor from Romania thought his camera was off and that he was muted when he took his laptop into the bathroom and began to shower…but he was sadly mistaken.

I found myself dealing with a similar instance not too long ago where an individual was in a team call, accidently switched his camera on, and revealed he was taking nude photographs of himself. While these instances may seem amusing and are sometimes laughed off, it does beg the question for employers: How do we respond? Is policy applicable? And if none exist, do we need to create one?

Since remote work was introduced on a mass scale in 2020, it has become much more normal for employees to dress comfortably and casually for work.

A poll from People Management confirms this, as it found more than half of respondents (56%) wore jogging bottoms or leggings while working remotely, and the average employee spends 46 days a year working in pajamas. 29% of employers surveyed, however, stated they had enforced a strict dress code in response to this change or would if they could.

Ideally, an organization’s dress code can be applied across a variety of work situations and locations. Companies that have embraced remote or hybrid work can mitigate risk and inappropriate behavior by ensuring their workforce policies make sense in multiple settings. Rather than having separate dress code policies for different workers, for example, an organization can have a single comprehensive policy that applies to different situations.

The way we dress to work has always had a big influence on personal brand, company brand, and productivity. It’s the old adage that dressing smartly makes you think and act smartly. Dress helps someone differentiate when they are in work mode and when they are not. Post-pandemic saw these lines blur; the home, which was typically a place for comfort, merged with the workplace. And while dress code expectations may have been clear for working in the office, have employers been clear in what the expectations are surrounding working from home?

When reviewing dress code policies for use in remote or hybrid settings, start by defining what a company deems acceptable as ‘working attire’ when working from home. Consider how ‘dressed’ a remote employee needs to be. If someone on a zoom call is clad in a shirt, tie and even blazer from the waist up, but wearing pyjama bottoms from the waist down, is this unprofessional?

It’s important for employers to partner with HR when determining employee dress expectations. Appropriate attire doesn’t necessarily mean forcing workers to wear business professional clothing at all times, as contextually this may not be beneficial for the desired result.

For example, if a team is brainstorming ideas, an imaginative and innovative process, some individuals will do their best creative thinking when they can dress (and feel) comfortable. In part this is because, psychologically, what we wear can have a huge effect on how we think. One study found that wearing a suit or smart attire made 52% of people feel more productive, 59% act more decisively, and 78% felt more authoritative. And yet, a different study at the University of Hertfordshire asked a group of people to wear a Superman T-shirt, and concluded they believed they were stronger as a result.

Context of the desired result is therefore key when it comes to creating policies around dress codes and video call etiquette. Having a set of standards on what is acceptable – and what is unacceptable – will help mitigate the blunders mentioned earlier. There also needs to be an element of flexibility incorporated into these standards based on the task at hand; creative tasks may require more comfort. After all, if wearing a Superman shirt makes you feel strong, being comfortable can make you feel comfortable, too – and this can encourage some of the best and most honest thinking.

It all comes down to being intentional with the dress code, which will help to ensure clarity around those blurred lines of remote working and home life, while also taking into account the fact that the way someone dresses can have a real effect on their work results.

If you would like to discuss how we can help your company create and optimize these policies, please get in touch with me at

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