Organizational Culture

How to Be Professional in a Casual Work Environment

With millennials rushing into the workforce in droves, workplace attire has increasingly become more casual. But where can employees draw the line between casual and unprofessional?  Should employers reinstate strict dress codes, or should they allow employees to dress however they’d like? The answer, as with many things, is somewhere in the middle.

It’s important for modern professionals to establish their own standards of professionalism. A relaxed work environment is not a free pass to look like a slob or be disrespectful.

Professionalism Starts with Appearance

There are a lot of benefits to casual dress, but there’s one that everyone loves: comfort.

That said, it’s important to make sure your outfit isn’t a distraction. Your work life should be about you and your accomplishments, not your clothing. That means that the best outfit for a casual work environment is one that people don’t notice. It’s not over the top, and it’s not too sloppy, either. It simply fits in.

Look for clothes that fit properly, and aren’t too tight or baggy. Make sure that everything is clean and unwrinkled, and in good condition. This should go without saying, but avoid potentially offensive messaging on t-shirts. That means avoid topics like religion and politics in your choice of clothing.

Behavior Matters

These basic lessons are nothing new, but always worth repeating. Being a professional means being dependable and punctual.

It means coming into meetings prepared, and keeping commitments. It also means committing to produce quality work. Follow the right processes at your work, and find ways to improve these processes. Treat people with integrity, and listen to people. Above all, stay positive, and find solutions instead of focusing on problems.

There’s a Moral Component

There’s a moral component to being professional, and it starts with honesty – intellectual and ethical honesty. That means sticking to your professional standards, and taking responsibility for your actions. Stick to your employer’s policies and procedures by not trying to walk the fine line.

Finally, show respect for company property and information. Things like sensitive data and confidential conversations should stay with you. It’s better to be discreet than to be known as someone who can’t be trusted with secrets.

We hope these tips can be used at your workplace to help foster a productive, happy, work environment.

Watch a 1-minute preview of “How to Project a Professional Image in a Casual Environment” from The BizLibrary Collection here:

Training & Development Industry Researcher | Derek researches, discusses, and writes about the impacts of employee learning on organizations and individuals. He regularly interviews L&D and HR professionals, sharing their insight on trends and best practices that help organizations create stronger training programs, and help to grow their employees and their business.