Casual Fridays: Dos and Don’ts

Among office workers around the country, the concept of casual Friday has become common and it’s something we all look forward to. It’s the official end of the work week and the start of long-expected weekend relaxation.

The first thing most people think of regarding casual Fridays is the opportunity to dress down and be comfortable. It makes Friday into practically a holiday, allowing the people around your office to have fun, form stronger personal bonds, and improve morale without spending a cent. But for many companies, it’s an opportunity to do even more.

Consider these casual Friday ideas, and how you should (or shouldn’t) practice them.

1. Casual Outfits

Nearly everywhere, casual Friday means dressing more comfortably, adding a dash of personality and creativity to your outfit. However, even when casual Friday comes a-knocking, you must observe some restrictions out of courtesy and professionalism.

Also read: Traditional Ideas of Professionalism: Are They Right for Your Organization?

DO refer to your employee handbook or senior employees about specific guidelines or safety requirements for dress. Clothing choices should still be neat and presentable. You can indulge your personal style, such as boot-cut jeans and a colorful polo shirt, or dress for the weather with sweaters in the winter and comfy loafers and short sleeves in the summer.

No matter what ensemble you choose, DON’T show up for work wearing clothes that look soiled or disheveled or resemble tattered and stained old rags. Looking like you just rolled out of bed or wearing clothes that belong in the trash is not suitable office attire. Flip-flops, sweats, pajamas, and sleeveless T-shirts, or those that show tasteless messages or graphics, belong in the gym or at home, not at work.

Neither is the office the right place to experiment with trendy styles like acid-washed or “muddy” jeans, no matter what you paid for them. Sneakers, shorts, sports team jerseys, and anything too tight or revealing are also improper choices.

Casual Friday dress codes can vary widely, so before anything else, you should try to determine exactly what is and is not allowed.

2. Work-at-Home Fridays

Some businesses actually allow employees to work from home on certain days of the week (every day can be the proverbial casual Friday). The managers who choose this practice don’t just do it out of the goodness of their hearts – they are aware of the benefits of telecommuting. It can lower company electric bills, reduce noise, save on office supplies, and make employees happier (and thus more productive), particularly in that they don’t have to burn gas on an often miserable commute back and forth to work. But, there are some rules to telecommuting days as well.

Also read: 4 Reasons to Allow Your Employees to Work from Home

DO work. Telecommuting is not a day off. You should observe your regular working hours to connect with team members when needed to answer questions or share ideas. Though you may sleep a little later and enjoy the comforts of home, you still need to minimize distractions and do your job.

It helps to establish a dedicated workspace at home to remain productive. A spare bedroom or basement can be converted into a home office that’s used each Friday. During the rest of the week, it might motivate your spouse/partner to work from home, or you make some money freelancing. It’s also a perfect homework and study area for the kids.

DON’T tell yourself that you have time to surf the web or visit your social media profile to try and get more likes on Instagram. You don’t want the boss to learn that you’re on personal sites when you should be busy. Avoid making phone calls or doing chores when you should be working. Don’t make yourself available for visits from family and friends. They should respect the fact that you’re working.

If you’re out of coffee and have a bad case of “depresso”, it’s understandable that you have to run out and get some caffeine. In that case, you are allowed to leave your home office for 15 minutes. In all other situations, running out to the store during work hours might be a mistake. What if you run into a client or a business partner? What if your boss calls with new priorities or urgent questions? Don’t leave the house looking unwashed and sloppy, wearing flip-flops and old clothes. Also, don’t go anywhere without your smartphone.

3. A Day/Hour Off

Some companies will be generous enough to let employees leave early on Fridays, or even take the whole day off occasionally. However, those days/hours off aren’t free gifts for the employees. The companies usually have varied schedules where employees can work 10 or 12 hours or accrue time off by working late here and there until they’ve come up eight hours ahead.

Also read: The Rise and Fall of the 40-Hour Work Week

When those days off are allowed or have been earned, DO use them as best as you can. The long three-day weekend is always a welcome opportunity for spending time with friends, family, or home projects. It lets you unwind and put work responsibilities out of your thoughts for a while.

This will increase your job engagement and morale. You’ll come back de-stressed and personally satisfied through a better work-life balance.

It’s your time off, so DON’T fret about what isn’t getting done. Try to refrain from reading your work e-mail or checking in with colleagues. Don’t forget that when you’re on your own time, even the most critical project isn’t your problem.

Getting Casual Friday right

Casual Friday is a popular practice because it improves employee morale and team building. It doesn’t mean you can show up for work looking like a slob, it just means you can be comfortable and relax before the weekend. Many companies will go beyond casual wear to allowing employees to work from home or take a little time off. Whatever Friday policies you adopt for your company, be sure that they’re documented and freedom isn’t abused. Seeing that business gets done is still the priority.

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