Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Productivity boost

    Sitting in Cat's front room the other day we were discussing going to work en femme. As one does. It's not going to happen for me in a hurry. Too many logistical issues. But it did raise the point, right now I'm not convinced I'm working at my full capacity because the girl fog swirling round my brain doesn't like losing much of my attention for very long. On the days I've worked en femme from home I'm conscious I've been more focused because my inner girl is happily expressing herself, I'm happier with the way I look and feel. This isn't the magic bullet but it sure as hell frees up some of the processing power to do stuff and I get more done.
   In a successful business, there should be little room for anything but the bottom line. Cash is King. So the simple rule of thumb is this: if you want to persuade a businessman or woman that something is a good idea, you give them the financial justification. Do this, and you'll make more money. Anything else is irrelevant to them, or it should be if they want to stay in business for long.
    So how about this for a powerful argument that strays out of the transgendered sphere and applies to anybody: Be happy for your employees of all persuasions to express themselves as they see fit, watch their productivity rise and see a lot of your staff retention issues disappear as though they had never been.
    It's compelling, isn't it. So why do so many employers have hangups about dress codes? I've worked for a few and walked out of interviews for a few more in my time. Forget en femme for a moment, why on earth should a programmer have to wear a suit and tie? The customers don't any more, so forget it! Perhaps they should all learn from Sun Microsystems, whose dress code was something along the lines of  "Wear something".

After all, I'm sure they'd rather see me in a blouse and skirt than without them.


  1. I'll go for the comment working from home en femme...

    I must admit we do not have a dress code where I work - still would not come as Stace though - and it works well.

    I remember starting here a few years ago and seeing some guy in bemuda shorts and hawien t shirt. I asked someone who it was. He owns the company came the response.

    Fun thing is to come in a nice (cool) linnen suit in the summer months and wait for the 16 billion questions you get asked about whether you have an interview...


  2. Many studies have shown that people behave differently, depending upon how they are dressed. When people are dressed like slobs, they tend to act more like a slob. When dressed nicely, they tend to act more professional.

    Here in the US, we have become a nation of slobs.

    Most people who have never run a business of their own completely misunderstand an employers viewpoint on employee happiness. It is easier to replace someone who's happiness affects the status quo than it is to get the majority to accept and stop being affected by the disruptor.

    Nobody is irreplacable. In fact, most people are very easily replacable.

  3. Jamie I can tell you don't work in the tech industry.

    In tech, people are employed for what's between their ears. You don't care whether the geek can string a sentence together or even wash, if he can factor a six dimensional matrix in his head while simultaneously conquering the Strogg homeworld with his trusty railgun, he's hired. True, nobody's irreplaceable, but tell that to the manager who's just lost the team that really knew their way round the million dollar customer's database schema because he instituted a tidy desk policy and the collection of Kinder egg toys had to go. True story.

    Geeks behave best when unfettered. You're not forcing them do something for money, you're tempering their raw creative fire in the direction someone will pay you money for. If they flipped burgers for a living they'd still code at home. Aren't photographers like that? Mess with the creative fire and see the staff turnover soar.

    As part owner of a small tech business I had in part to make myself redundant last year to avoid recessionary doom. I apparently wasn't irreplaceable enough :)

  4. Stace, doing the suit-interview thing after taking a 1/2 day off works wonders a few weeks before your performance review.

  5. Until recently my younger son was a pharmaceutical rep. In the height of summer, when sensible people were going round in as little as possible, he was expected to wear a dark suit and tie. For female reps, however, the dress code was light summer dresses, or skirts and short-sleeved blouses. Where's the sense in that?

    And you wonder why I prefer to be a woman?

  6. @Angie: my sentiments exactly. Been there, overheated!

  7. Working en-femme is just so much better. Wearing comfortable clothes, knowing that I look good, reacting to people as the real confident me rather than the agrophobic Bob. The benefits are immense.

    Unfortunately it does not fit in with people who like empire building and control for controls sake. At least a strong HR can help deal with that - especially when the chairman of the group board tells you to dress how you want!

    It is like IT jobs are ideally suited to the average asperger person - but there are always so many obstacles put in the way of an asperger person being able to cope with the meaningless beaurocracy!

  8. I'm lucky I work in a tiny company so my work issues would probably be less than some. I'll find out how tolerant my two colleagues are when I come out to them in due course, but I don't expect them to be too bad about it. You get that vibe from people.

    I see working en femme as not fully practical though because of the nature of the building, it's shared office space with a load of other companies and there would be too much to explain to too many people. I'm too big to hide behind my monitors :)