I’m a ‘no collar’ worker, and love it

First of all, and yes contrary to my final 2015 article where I noted that I was going to stop posting and focus on trying to conjure up a book of some sort, I am back.

So a couple of things have happened this year. Firstly, I have not given up on writing a book. I have been researching and learning a lot of crazy stories about the life of my father and I am slowly starting to structure the potential flow and context of the story. It’s not as straightforward as perhaps I initially thought. The pen to paper part (a keyboard has not yet been touched either) has not yet eventuated. One day it will. I have a set a timeframe of five years to hold the published book in my hands. These things take time.

Secondly, and the theme of this post, is that I have not worn a business shirt (or suit trousers for that matter) to work yet this year. Well, I have once, and that was with jeans to ‘dress up’ on a Friday. However, for arguments sake, I have been wearing a t-shirt every working day this year. Sometimes with chinos, jeans or shorts (depending on the weather in Sydney). Let me tell you this. After 15 years of wearing a business shirt, it is one of the most liberating experiences of my working life so far. I love it.

I have become the new ‘no collar’ worker.

Now some of you that know me, and know whom I spend most of my day with will say that I can only do this because my client (a well known Australian technology company) all wear t-shirts and their dress code is ‘relaxed’. This is true, and was the catalyst. However, I have decided to maintain my new no collar work attire with both existing and new clients (even lawyers).

It is a fact that the many sectors of industry have been ‘no collar’ for a long time, like the advertising industry, TV and film, education and generally those more creative industries. The original no collar workers, you know ‘artists’ and ‘free spirits’, tended to supposedly privilege passion and personal growth over financial gain. Funny that, we removed the shirt and tie to become creative and poor, put them back on to, er, become professional and rich? What rubbish! Essentially, are we saying that creatives are not professional and ‘professionals’ are not creative? We all know this not to be true, surely? However, and to be fair, over the last 100 years the perception of the white vs. blue vs. no collar worker has been enforced through ‘smart’ work attire.

So what is changing, if anything, in the perceived more professional industries and sectors? Perhaps, with the emergence over the last decade of the technology sector, rapid growth of start ups, the need to ‘innovate’, many organisations are starting to accept that the traditional business attire makes absolutely no difference to your ability to work hard and well. I’d say that walking through the Sydney CBD, 20 to 25% of workers are not wearing shirts. I reckon in the next few years, this will double.

Personally, what you wear at work (within reason) makes absolutely no difference to your output and capabilities. My favourite example, is when real estate agents (in three piece suits, tie clips etc) are walking t-shirt, thong (flip flops for non-Australians) wearing business owners around premium grade buildings. A great juxtaposition.

Now I am not saying that you should rebel and head into work next week with your favourite Red Dwarf t-shirt from 1992, a pair for ripped jeans and your Doc Martins. If you are thinking of wearing something a little more relaxed, I would recommend starting on a Friday. Wear a plain t-shirt, smart chinos and black trainers or similar. Gauge the response, go from there.

I may have to return to a shirt one day, I hope not. Personally, I find dressing relaxed both empowers me and also reduces my stress levels. I love the comments, and dare I say envy, my new way of dressing to work generates.

So this is my first post for 2016. I hope you enjoyed it.

Let me know if you would like to change what you wear at work, and if you would, can you? Or do you think not wearing a shirt diminishes the perception of professionalism or perhaps blurs the line between work and home further?

Thanks for reading,

Kai

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