Santiago Iniguez, Dean of Instituto de Empresa Business School.
I read in today’s edition of The Independent that according to a survey conducted by law firm Peninsula in the UK, four out of five companies found that a relaxed attitude as regards dress codes in the office increases productivity. The survey has been released at times when the UK is experiencing one of the hottest summers in recent decades and when, consequently, workers wonder whether to dress in a cooler way and leave suits and formal shoes at home.
This piece of news reminds me of a comment made by Patrick Harker, Dean of the Wharton School, at the latest EFMD/AACSB annual conference in Paris in May this year, where he announced the adoption of some measures at his school to strengthen etiquette and discipline, which included respecting a basic dress code and avoiding the use of cellular phones as well as eating in the classroom.
This current July, temperatures in Madrid have been abnormally high –it seems as elsewhere- though the actual perception of heat here is lighter and more bearable than, for example, in London, given that humidity in Madrid is low. In summer time, students tend to soften the rigor of dress codes and some come to class in shorts and sandals. In those circumstances, I am approached by some professors who demand a tougher etiquette in class since, they explain, external appearance is an important part of the personality and a proper education at schools should include how a manager should look externally.
I remember reading in Herbert H.L.A. Hart’s The Concept of Law", a masterpiece on law, morals and philosophy, that rules of etiquette were the small sisters of moral norms. What I was not sure is if this means that not observing the former entails a loose attitude towards the latter.
At many companies there is still a strict dress code, written or unwritten. Conventionally, formal dressing shows respect for the others. Should the findings of the abovementioned survey make us rethink and relax rules of etiquette for the sake of productivity?