Casual offices are all the rage these days. It started in the tech world, which made sense; younger, hipper CEOs leading young, hip employees took the opportunity to nix the dress code in order to make sure that employees are happy, comfortable, and able to focus on their work. Every day more and more businesses and offices are moving towards that more casual workplace environment, but like everything there are pros and cons. We’ll weigh them out and you decide for yourself which works best for your office: the casual workplace or the traditional one we’re all used to. 

Casual Office


Comfort at work does take some stress off. 

Members and staff may be more ready to share ideas and be candid.


Visitors may mistake casual wardrobe for being lackadaisical. 

It may be harder to notice signs of depression or apathy.

Traditional Office


Expectations are already implied. “Business Casual” is well known in the professional world.

Always ready for last minute lunch meetings.


Stringent dress code may feel like a uniform to some.

May be seen as a drawback to your office compared with more casual ones. 

This thought first occurred to me after reading “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose” the story of Zappos. Zappos founder Tony Hsieh has said about the reasons he encouraged a casual office: “A lot of people act different on the weekends versus the office. It’s like they leave a big part of themselves at home. We encourage our employees to be themselves. We want them to be the same person at home and the office.”

So how would this work for an association?

For the day to day, why not? Wouldn’t it be nice for you to be able to roll out of bed, put on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt and go on about your day? After all, it wouldn’t suddenly limit your abilities or your work ethic. But consider a few things: the likelihood of surprises and the nature of your staff. Do you have partners pop in regularly? And is your staff the kind of group that when offered an inch, they’ll take a mile? If either of those answers are “yes” you may need to consider this issue a little more carefully. 

Finally, a traditional office dress code is the safe choice. But really, how much is achieved without taking risks? Why not give it a try and see how it goes?