The idea of a more casual attire being allowed on for Friday at work is a policy that is popular and because it costs next to nothing to implement for employers are normally seen as something that has a positive effect on staff and that is one of the reasons that they become widespread in recent years, but are there any disadvantages?

The idea of a dress down day is to offer employees one day a week when they do not have to meet the standards set by the normal dress code of the business. So instead of a business suit, jeans, trainers and a polo shirt would be acceptable. People can see this in different ways, a chance to avoid ironing yet another shirt or blouse for work, while others may see it as an opportunity for personal expression. It is normally seen as a positive step by management and a perk or reward for the work they have accomplished during the rest of the week.

The concept has its origins in Hawaii back in the 1940s when workers in the city of Honolulu were allowed to wear their Aloha shirts for part of the year. This evolved over the years into what was called Aloha Fridays and by the mid 1970s the idea of a casual wear day was widespread across America. Over the intervening years this has spread across the world due to evidence that research provided in that it appeared to increase staff morale and productivity.

Other benefits included:

  1. An increase in the appeal of the business to potential recruits. Current emlpoyees appeared to be happier and content in the workplace then you would be more likely to attract new employees with the correct skills, and the dress down concept can be seen as a positive thing by potential recruits.
  2. Cost-effectiveness. Most staff benefits have a financial cost to the employerbut this didn’t, so allowed employers to improve staff morale without incurring additional cost to the business
  3. Improved effectiveness. Studies undertaken indicated that employees when dressed in ‘their own clothes’ felt more effective and achieved more as a result.
  4. Improved team relationships. Whereas formal business wear can encourage competitiveness it was found that the use of casual wear, and the freedom that it became associated created more of a team environment.

However, as with most things there is the flip side to consider and potential disadvantages can also be seen. Consider the following:


  1. The clothes that people choose as casual may reflect poorly on the company or business so it may lead to a situation where a code of what is not acceptable has to be introduced, reducing the effect of the casual day being introduced, especially in client-facing businesses so it in theses cases it may not be appropriate to instigate the policy.
  2. Possible decline in the effectiveness of the work produced. Whereas most research showed improved effectiveness, others have suggested that when dressed casually there was the danger that they could adopt a more relaxed and casual mind-set on the work they were undertaking, especially on a Friday afternoon.

So the casual Friday isn’t all plain sailing, and some businesses may not be appropriate at all. However, for the majority of settings the advantages far outweigh the negatives, and in other scenarios other versions may be introduced for specific days of the year, for example having a fancy dress day for charity or adopting a country for an international sporting competition introducing competition between teams. What experience have you had, does not having to wear your normal working trousers and jacket make a difference to your week?