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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dangling the Shiny Object

There was an announcement at work yesterday that employees could (continue*) to wear denim during the week, as long as it is neat, etc. Big deal right? Well it is to me.


Two reasons:

#1: It's the whole shiny object concept at play for me. People are being asked to do more with less and there are other challenges I don't want to get into, and rather than make a substantive change that would actually improve the workplace, we instead throw denim at the situation. The sad part is that this will make some people forget other "stuff". It will improve moral for some. How sad is that? We put a lot of our heart and soul into what we do professionally, and yet some can be distracted from real pressing issues simply by a pair of Levis. I can see the senior leaders patting themselves on the back, offering congratulations for helping to solve "the moral problem". I've heard the phrase "sold my soul for Rock-n-Roll", but I guess it has a business version that somehow substitutes "neatly pressed denim" for "Rock-n-Roll".

#2: Our office is one of four major sites for the firm. For years we've struggled to shrug off the whole "back office" view of what we do. Yes, we do have some transaction processing and other similar functions, but we also have account management, finance, marketing and other occupations represented as well. If anything, I think we should dress better. No matter what you do for a living you should strive to do it in the most professional manner possible, and whether we like it or not, how we look sometimes makes as big an impression as what we do. Anyway, if this change were being instituted across the entire firm I'd probably be less skeptical, but since I suspect that it's just a Scranton change, my fear is that it just reinforces a negative stereotype.

So there you have it. Big deal, huh? Well for me it is. Granted there is zero I can do about this organizationally, but I can continue to dress the way I want...which I suppose will be my silent little protest. Fight the power, don't you know.

(*) We normally could wear jeans on Fridays, but that was extended to Monday-Thursday in mid-December.

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