The T-shirts and leggings some of us got used to wearing while working from home have stuck for some, but for two St. Joseph employers, it’s business (or dress code) as usual.
A third, the human resources division at Altec Industries, is beginning its transition back to its usual dress code of business professional.
At the peak of the pandemic, dress codes were more relaxed at Ventura Foods in St. Joseph where Jan Phillippe serves as human resources manager.
“We had restricted all visitors to only contractors that were necessary for us to operate, no company visitors during that time, so jeans and nice T-shirts or shirts were very common attire for the office,” Phillippe said.
“We’ve always had a somewhat relaxed dress code but required no jeans to be worn when we have company visitors,” she said. “I feel that we are back to that ‘before’ level of dressing now.”
At Mosaic Life Care, a portion of the hospital’s non-clinical employees worked from home or increased the frequency of it during the pandemic, said Laney Taylor, talent agency director at the medical center.
“Mosaic’s dress code is business casual. While this did not necessarily change during the pandemic, we did have a period of time where jeans were allowed to be worn on a more frequent basis for an extended timeframe,” Taylor said.
Currently, Mosaic is back to its business casual dress code with a few jeans-day Fridays still allowed. On these days, staff can wear jeans and Chiefs gear. Clinical staff members are encouraged to wear work T-shirts on these days. Some employees who can work from home have continued to do so and are expected to have a professional appearance for video conferences.
In the human resources division at Altec Industries, business professional dress was required before the pandemic. When the office established COVID-19 guidelines and admittance was limited to HR personnel only, the dress code was modified to business casual — which included jeans, said Carolynn Sollars, human resources program manager in talent acquisition at Altec.
Phillippe, who has worked in human resources for 27 years, remembers when dresses with hosiery and heels (never bare legs) and pantsuits were the norm.
“I haven’t put on hose for years now, I don’t even know how many years it’s been,” she said. “Our dress code (because we are a manufacturing plant) is more relaxed than if we were our headquarters’ location, though we still strive to look professional with Friday being more of the ‘jeans day’ for most.”
Taylor said she’s also noticed a change toward less formal attire for all kinds of occasions.
“In general, dress codes have become more relaxed, not just at work but for church, special events, etc.,” Taylor said. “This makes it difficult when we communicate to (new employees) to dress in business casual and they may show up their first day in jeans.”
Some changes Taylor has seen include a shift from closed-toe shoes to sandals now being allowed for women. Dress shirts and ties that were often worn daily by men have been replaced (for the most part) with button-down or polo-style shirts.
Many workplaces also have relaxed rules on body piercings, gauges and tattoos.
“I honestly don’t think the verbiage within most job descriptions has changed, but the interpretation of ‘professional dress attire’ has evolved over the years,” Sollars said. “Progressive and forward-thinking organizations embrace the ‘fashion trends’ and allow employees to express their individuality within this arena.”