Dressing for Success: It’s All About the Context!

There was once a time when every professional, no matter his or her industry, put on a suit each morning.  Today, there are many interpretations of formal, business casual, smart casual, etc.  If you’re not aware of the environment you’re in it can be easy to look sloppy, and it can be equally easy to be over-dressed.

 

Dress Codes vs. Self-Expression

“Dress codes have most certainly relaxed over time, particularly since the introduction of ‘jeans Fridays’ and dot-com era casual attire,” says Judah Kurtz of BPI group, a human resources consulting firm in Chicago, Illinois. “What is considered ‘appropriate’ varies by company and culture, as well as what parts of the house are strictly internal versus client/public facing.”

“Dress code policies walk a fine line between portraying a professional image to clients and customers while allowing employees to be comfortable, engaged, and expressive,” said Kevin Sheridan, senior vice president of HR optimization at Avatar HR Solutions, also in Chicago.

While some have adopted casual dress code policies that allow for self-expressions, others believe it’s important to have dress codes with limitations of expressions.

Franki Brandt-Pethtel, the Director of Operations for Bond Jewelers in the Tampa Bay Area, thinks maintaining a proper dress code shows respect for your employer, clients and yourself.

“Would you purchase an expensive piece of fine jewelry from a woman with a green Mohawk and sleeve full of tats? That’s why I wear a suit to work every day. My personal expression can wait until my day off,” she said.

While it’s ultimately up to each organization’s culture to deem what is fit, various human resource professionals believe general dress guidelines are useful as they create some parameters and expectations around what is considered appropriate.  At the same time, allowing some freedom of individual expression can have positive impacts on company culture and employee satisfaction.

“You may be memorable, but make sure you are memorable for the right reasons,” said Kurtz. “Be yourself, but don’t let your appearance or behaviors detract from your selling points: your intelligence, accomplishments, strengths and experience.”

 

Business-Meetings

Before you decide on an outfit for any professional appointment, carefully consider your audience. If you’re meeting someone abroad, research what the locals wear for business meetings and dress accordingly. When meeting with a high-level executive, do your best to mirror what he or she will wear.

For men, putting your best look forward often comes down a clean, crisp look from head to toe. Svelte suit. Slick tie. Shined shoes. Spruced hair. For women, the same rules apply. An equally unfettered, conservative — basically safe — professional look is often the best choice for meetings, regardless of your gender. If you wear a skirt with your blazer and blouse instead of dress pants, double check that it’s not too short.

 

Tech start-ups

Startups are notoriously contrarian cultures; they are looking to change the status quo. Dressing in a suit represents the status quo, or at least, a caricature of it.

Silicon Valley has a peculiar and yet virulent bias against the suit. It’s even a euphemism for an overly conservative, corporate-buzzword-speaking, pointy-haired Dilbert boss. No one wants to work with an “empty suit”. Software engineers help strongly define the culture in Silicon Valley, and they overwhelmingly don’t wear suits, or in general they don’t want to work with people who do.

If you are meeting with a tech startup, business casual dress is often the way to go.

Source:  Entrepreneur.com

 

Vote Yes for Better Office Space

 

Due to the current recession, many businesses are down-sizing and looking to cut costs in any way possible. For some businesses, this may mean the transition from a daily office space to home offices for all employees with a once-a-month meeting to regroup and move forward. For this monthly meeting or for whenever the business needs an actual meeting space, rental conference rooms will certainly be the smart decision.

 

Rental conference rooms allow you to rent professional meeting space by the day, or even by the hour, if the business only needs the space for a short time. Having a professional setting, even if it’s only for meetings, can do wonders for a small business. If a small business rents a conference room, it allows them to project the appearance of a larger company, which can increase their ability to make larger sales to more reputable clients. Small businesses deserve better office space and rental conference rooms are the answer.

 

A rental conference room allows businesses to choose the location based on what they need at that time. If a business is trying to get a client in a certain city, they can simply rent a location that is easily accessible by the client in hopes of helping the sale. It is also a smart decision to select a location that has convenient parking. While a building may be in a great location, if it does not have convenient parking, the client, and the workers, will need to worry about finding a parking space and may cause unneeded stress or aggravation.

 

Many locations that offer rental conference rooms also offer monthly mail services to provide a desirable business address for the business; this creates the illusion that this business is based in a high rent area and can help entice prospective clients to learn more. In addition to mailing services, many rental locations also provide the technology needed to give an effective and compelling presentation; some even provide pens, pencils, paper, flip charts, or whiteboards to help your presentation run as smoothly as possible. If the little nuances are already taken care of, it gives the business owner more time to prepare and focus on the growth and success of his business.

 

Small businesses need to remain flexible in order to grow, which means knowing which expenses are necessary and which could be strategically eliminated. If a small business tries to rent a full time office, much of the revenue will go towards overhead costs, which doesn’t leave sufficient funds for effective growth. By renting a conference room only when a physical location is necessary, it can free up the funds for a small business to focus on growth.

The Value of Virtual Offices

Virtual offices are becoming a popular trend in the business world, especially for small and mid-sized businesses. By having a virtual office, these smaller companies have the ability to project the image of a large company to their clients, which can greatly increase their reputation and sales. Virtual offices provide these companies a chance to thrive in a recessionary economy.

A virtual office is the combination of an off-site address and live communication services, which allows smaller businesses to purchase services and time as their business needs. This allows a small or starting business to eliminate almost all overhead costs which can make or break a company. Virtual offices allow a company to hand select the services they desire, which makes it easy for any company to select services that will allow them to thrive without breaking their budget. Companies are also able to rent conference rooms or office space by the hour or by the day, so if a face-to-face meeting is necessary, the business has the ability to rent what they need and impress their client with an upscale office building.

The services that are offered by virtual offices include call forwarding, receptionist services, auto-attendant services, and voicemail services. Call forwarding allows an incoming call to be forwarded directly to the employee’s phone or even to multiple employees’ phones, without the client ever knowing the call has been forwarded outside of the office building. The live receptionist is provided with database software so that they are able to respond to any incoming call with specific information about the company in a professional manner. The receptionist will also schedule appointments, and occasionally handle small tasks such as data entry, bookkeeping, and maintenance. Auto-attendant services are recorded, client focused greetings. These automatic recordings are able to provide the client with information such as directions to the company, or with the ability to push the call through to an employee. Lastly, voicemail services are provided so that the employee does not have to worry about multiple voicemail boxes, all of the voicemails are stored in one location, at the virtual office. This makes it easier for the company to receive messages and they will not have to worry about missing a message due to a voicemail box being overlooked. These services are all designed to give the company the opportunity to run a highly efficient and effective business, even if they are small.

The virtual office also gives a small or starting business the ability to appear as a large company to potential clients. This professional appearance can entice clients to want to hire the business because their appearance makes them seem trustworthy and important. These offices also make it easier for a business to start a new location. The ability to start a location in a city where you are not actually located can make the transition easy for any business.

The low cost of a California virtual office allows small businesses to put a prestigious address on their business cards and provides them with an elegant office and professional receptionist. In addition to the basic services, the virtual office provides the company with software and the IT infrastructure of larger businesses, which can work to help the company prosper. Overall, a virtual office is an excellent option for any business looking to expand or to get a start in the professional world.