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  • When business is your life.

    Buttoned Up

    Company culture gives me a casual Friday at the office.

    Jeans and a knit jacket are perfectly appropriate for me.

    Shirt: NY & Co.

    Knit Jacket: Target

    Jeans: TJ Maxx

    Boots: Ross

    Necklace: Forever 21

    Earrings: NY & Co.

    Like the outfit? See more details here!

    We talked about company culture in my technology class last night, particularly as it related to Perot Systems, mentioned in one of our case studies. The discussion centered around my group presentation about vendor evaluation and selection, and we mentioned that the culture of the vendor was important when making a selection.

    We found that Perot Systems, at the time, was run by a lot of ex-military personnel, so the culture was extremely hierarchical, structured, and detail-oriented. Imagine if you were an open organization, with a flat structure and “loose” dress code. How well do you think your relationship would be with such a buttoned up company? IBM used to be the same way, with a suit-and-tie-everyday mentality. Silicon Valley is the complete opposite, where engineers and business people wear shorts, flip-flops, and t-shirts to the office daily. It’s a pretty humorous movie stand-by: the scene where the start-up genius tries to meet with investors, and they tell him that surely his million-dollar idea can buy him a decent pair of shoes!

    But culture is more than just the dress code, it’s also the mentality about doing business. Are you blunt and to-the-point, or ambiguous and beating-around-the-bush? Do you have flexible scheduling or a 9-5 day? These types of attitudes have been changing, and my generation is particularly interested in company culture. I would say that more job postings boast “a cool workplace” than ever before, and higher value is placed on cultural “fit” when interviewing candidates. It’s interesting, because I’m still not sure how a dress code influences success, but I think there’s a strong case for flexible scheduling and open communication. My brain shuts down around 10 pm, but my husband comes alive at the time of night. Thus, it works much better for me to perform during the standard 9-5, and for him to perform from 10 pm to 4 am. But does it really matter if I show up in a suit or jeans? Does it really improve his performance if he is in shorts or khakis? The buttoned up cultures at IBM and Perot Systems seem to think so, but Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurs disagree.

    I think it all goes back to whether your client is buying into the illusion. If you’re in a client-facing environment, you’ve got to match their culture. If that culture says, “suits”, then suits it is! Today’s outfit works perfectly for a casual Friday in my current office culture. How does dress code factor into your company culture? Does it change based on your meetings for the day? Like the outfit? See more details here!

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