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How Not To Dress When You Return to the Office and A Videoconferencing Reminder

by Mary Isner / September 30, 2021

Finally! We are starting to return to normalcy in many ways, and more people are returning to the office. I think one of the more interesting outcomes of the pandemic is that many workplaces have realized that their employees do not need to be in the office full-time. Because of this, many people are returning to hybrid offices or becoming full-time teleworkers. No matter where you fall with your office arrangement, these friendly pointers from Miss Telework Manners may be helpful to you. In this installment, I offer solutions to two additional challenges you may be facing during these times. Happy reading!

Call The Office Fashion Police! We Have A Violation 

Dear Miss Telework Manners: I need your help right away! My company had a few people who had to go into the office last year, me being one of them. The IT Guy would show up in shorts, a tank top, and flip flops (even in the winter) all last year since the big bosses stayed home. Well now we are doing a hybrid office return to work, so 75% of the staff show up at least 3 days a week. This guy is still sporting the same super casual ensemble, which is driving me crazy. We do have a dress code! I have mentioned this to the HR director who refuses to go back to the office because she is concerned about COVID. She said that she will say something to him when she returns. This CANNOT wait another minute. Any advice?

 -- Hybrid Office Emergency  

 Dear Hybrid Office Emergency:

 Oh my…that is an emergency indeed! I wonder if your HR director realizes just how unprofessional the IT Guy’s ensemble is? I would recommend approaching her again and suggesting that rather than waiting until she returns, she could send an email to the entire office reminding everyone of the dress code and asking employees to adhere to it once again. It’s important to emphasize issues of professionalism, safety, and office policy so this doesn’t come across as a matter of personal preference, or as a personal vendetta. Also, if anyone else in your office feels the way you do, they should approach her as well. If that fails, maybe you should have a videoconference with her and somehow get the IT Guy to walk into the frame…or how about a group picture of your officemates? Of course, I am only kidding about that…sort of. Good luck to you and here’s hoping Mr. Flip Flops starts wearing proper shoes sooner rather than later!

Watch Your Back(ground)

Dear Miss Telework Manners: One of my coworkers is working from her dining room table. I know many of us do this nowadays. However, she shows up to videoconferences with a fully (and I mean fully) stocked bar in her background. She probably has more vodka than the bar up the street. She has even shown up to client meetings this way. I understand that we can’t always clear the clutter in our surroundings before a videoconference, but I don’t think happy hour is quite the vibe we should be giving off. Should I mention something to her?

 -- Cheers!

Dear Cheers:

Unless you are working for an alcohol distributer, I can see how that might look unprofessional. I would definitely say something to her, especially if you are on good terms with her. But keep it light and suggest she use one of the videoconferencing features which will allow her to either blur out the background or select a different background altogether. This way, she could have the Golden Gate Bridge, Eiffel Tower, or wintry scene behind her instead of bottles of booze. If you do not feel comfortable approaching her, discuss this with your HR manager, who should be able to make a similar suggestion. One of these options should do the trick. It’s certainly better to hear it from a coworker than from a client!

 I hope you have found this week’s tips both helpful and enjoyable. Here’s wishing everyone a productive and healthy work environment, wherever that may be! Be safe and well, everyone!

Tags: Telework

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Mary Isner

Mary Isner

Mary has a master’s degree in public administration and has worked as a facility planning analyst for Fentress since 2003. In her free time, she enjoys baking, decorating, and spending time with her family.