vrijdag, juli 23, 2004

casual fridays

we used to have casual fridays.. to cut a long story short: we don't have them anymore.. (well, strictly speaking, we still do.. but then again, we now also enjoy casual mondays, tuesdays, wednesdays and, oh yes, véry casual thursdays..)

now for the long story: what's that problem denjames has with casual fridays? let me take you back in time, to a time when casual fridays were still something people were cheerful about on friday mornings (for some it even started late thursday evenings!!).. it was back in those days, when internet access still had to be signed off by your division head, and when you still had access to the one magical email address through which you could send a note to all of your colleagues in one go.. (some wiseguys had added "for business purposes only" to the address, just to make sure it wasn't abused...) before business cards for everyone, and free seating areas for the staff, before the restaurant was opened to commoners.. enfin, more than three years ago..

in those good old days, you did not stand before your wardrobe for half an hour every morning: a shirt, a tie, and one of those three greyish suits was all you needed to get ready for work.. during the lunch break, you could easily go for job interviews, because nobody would notice your formal dress.. during summer, you could distinguish the interns and students from colleagues or contractors.. you see: it were much simpler times for a guy like me..

but then, that fatal day end of june, an HR representative used the generic email address (for a business purpose of course):
the results from our 'casual dress fridays' being positive, we are glad to announce an extension to the entire week for the duration of the summer period: starting monday, july 3, 2000 and ending friday, september 1, 2000.

In smaller letters, they addeda small caveat:
as a company we must ensure that our professional image and attitude are not compromised
followed by some guidelines, and then
we count on your diligence to ensure that your attire is appropriate at all times for our professional environment

as you may have sensed in your smallest toe (that's an expression were i come from), HR would not stop there, oh no..
"smart casual" dress - extension of test up to year-end
during the summer we tested the "smart casual" dress policy on a continuous (all week) basis...
and then they extended it to year end, as promised in the title of their little document..
The real defeat for local formal dress dealers came somewhat later in the same year:
it has been gradually introduced, treated to a big applause (sic), and finally commonly accepted: the casual dress.. this dress policy stood the test without downgrading the high standards of our company.. that's why ** insert employers name here ** will continue its casual dress policy..

need i go on? some situations from current corporate life:
in the morning, you choose which t-shirt may/may not fall within HR definition of "smart casual".. a shirt with vertical print, as was fashionable lately, would HR be offended? those designer sports shoes, of which you would not think they were sports shoes (and if you ran down the street with them would be ready for recyclage?), would they pass the judging eyes in the morning elevatorride together with members of the management team?? when going for lunch , will i dare to look down the elevator buttons (to press the 0), when a steep valley disguised as a summer dress tactically positions herself between me and the button board? (i'm not often suffering from vertigo, but some dresses make me want to check my parachute, just in case my eyes start falling ...)

at the end of this summer, why not give the formal dress a short revival? it'll give you girls an opportunity to show off those pretty blouses and skirts only worn during the annual company ball, or to learn you it boys how to iron a shirt.. it'll give the shoe-repair-men a wonderfull incentive, and in the evening when you get home and take off your tie, you know your working day has ended.. relax.. blog.. surf.. think about which shirt to wear tomorrow..

ciao raga