Ditch the Workplace Uniform

04/24/2015 05:38 pm ET | Updated Jun 24, 2015

I remember when I first entered the workforce, I worked at a store in the mall where I could wear whatever I wanted as long as it was their brand. Then I worked at some indoor tanning salons where I had to wear nice pants and the company polo. Before my current position, I worked at a hotel where my entire ensemble was dictated for me - hair, nails, jewelry, shoes, and clothing. I went from some freedom with my work uniform to absolutely none. Today, I work at a small company that allows me to wear anything but pajamas to work, and I couldn't be happier.

Many companies see uniforms as a way to create additional advertising, establish a team environment, enhance the professional image, and reduce negative employee competition. While working at my previous positions, including the hotel, all still required that my wardrobe be modest and fitting for being in the work environment. Having my entire ensemble chosen for me, including my accessories, really made it easy to get ready for work every day because I never had to think about what I wanted to wear. However, it took away my personal identity; the shirts were low-cut and showed my skin-disease, the jewelry gave me hives, and I gained planters fasciitis from the flats I wore.

Needless to say, working for a company that allows me to wear jeans and yoga pants to work every day was a quick and easy change to make. Having the freedom to choose what to wear each day gives me the ability to be myself and relax while I am at work. Being relaxed truly allows me to get the most out of my workday and strive for greater success. I am happier to do more for my employer because I am comfortable at work.

Minimizing Restrictions
When a company allows its employees to determine some or all of their wardrobe, it is allowing its employees to feel empowered to make their own decisions. Obviously some establishments need to establish a restriction here and there, but keeping it to a minimum will be beneficial.

Performance Enhancement
When you are most comfortable; you are allowed to be the most open minded and care-free; this goes for performance in the workplace as well. If you allow your employees to wear their favorite jeans and most comfortable shirt to work, you leave the door open for endless improvements. When your employees feel comfortable, they'll be comfortable in their positions.

Reduction of Employee Resistance
When an employee is forced to wear a uniform that shows parts of their bodies they don't want to show off or makes them too hot/cold, you reduce their performance and raise their resistance. When an employee starts their shifts uncomfortable and close-minded to their appearance, it directly impacts their performance, which will inevitably reflect upon the business.

Half-Half Method
If your company is in the client's eyes at all times (i.e. hotel, home service, store, etc.), it is understandable that the employees should display professionalism, so what about a company polo? By allowing the employees to have a standard polo (2 long sleeved, 2 short sleeved) and their choice of work-appropriate bottoms, you're increasing the chances that the employee will still be comfortable while displaying uniformity and professionalism.

Employee-to-Employee Benefits
When your employees are encouraged to be themselves at work, it is easier for them to relate to one another and create friendships within the workplace. When your employees are comfortable, it allows them to be more open to communication, events, meetings, lunch, and after-work relationships. Encouraging your employees to enjoy each other can benefit the workplace and employees greatly.

Diminish Exemptions
If you require a certain uniform that has different kind of accessories, fabrics, etc., you are leaving a large gap open for issues. For example, I was allergic to the jewelry my previous employer required me to wear. By creating such a specific uniform requirement list, the employer is opening its doors to uniforms being un-uniform because of certain employees' exemptions.

Voice your opinions on company uniform requirements and share your experiences in the comment section
Special thanks to Kim for her help with this article