Do you need a tie to be a professional?

I always looked at my grandmother bemused when she commented that policemen were getting younger, as I did when my parents screwed up their faces when listening to my taste in music – these were sure-fire indicators that we were from very different generations. With that in mind, I worry that what I’m about to say will alienate me from most readers, but here goes. Is business still professional?

Of course, everyone will say it is. But as I look around the office, most of the men have shunned a tie and many of them have not taken a razor to their chin in days. And shoes are a distant memory as several are wearing flip-flops (men and women). At the risk of sounding like my grandmother, what has the world come to?

And then I look at their professional communications: press releases missing capital letters, business cases with poor grammar and customer collateral with inconsistent use of headings and indentations. When I question any of this I get disparaging looks on the lines of: ‘don’t you have anything better to do?’.

To be fair, few people come back from lunch drunk, as was often the case in my day, and work is now turned around very fast (in comparison). But I do find it odd that people dress up more for when they are leaving the office than when they arrive. I am from the school that says that if you are slipshod in your communication, it affects how your brand is perceived.

That said, there is an argument that the world has moved on and in the era of SMS messages and 140-character tweets, people are used to communicating in shorthand. For many years, our sales people dressed according to their client: if the customer is known to dress casually, off goes the tie before they step out of the door, but if they dress more formally, on goes the tie.

But I worry about perceptions. Would I trust a bank manager wearing ripped denims? Would I shop in a supermarket where the checkout staff don’t say thank you? Or buy a product where the point of sale is spelt wrong? LOL – back to my rocking chair me thinks.

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