Getting Personal: Dress Codes, Personal Hygiene and Others…

Today I would like to discuss about something that may seem like common sense to you but may make a huge difference in your work life. Paying attention to these details will not only make you a respected member of your team, but will also contribute to your success. No one wants to do business with a slob. Always represent yourself in the best way possible, be presentable and professional😊

In today’s global workforce we all come from different backgrounds and learn to work and spend majority of our time together. Every culture is different, nothing is good and nothing is bad, but we all have to find middle ground to make work-place tolerable for everyone.

First rule of thumb is to read company dress code policy and abide by it. In some roles, you need to wear business suits, in others you can wear business casual, in some you need to wear a uniform. It all depends on the company and the role. Make sure you read and understand the corporate policy, and do not stop there, look around you and observe what your peers are wearing. Sometimes companies do not change dress codes, but relax it for day to day operations, so when everyone else is wearing khakis to work you will look like a Board Member if you wear your suits:)

Also, what is appropriate in your culture or even another company may not be appropriate or acceptable. Many companies embrace diversity and they even let employees wear regional or cultural clothing in back office operations, however what seems like a splendid dress to you may be completely offensive to a customer or a coworker, so when in doubt it is always best to go with the more conservative approach. Make sure you always wear clean clothes that are laundered and ironed.

Now a sensitive topic for all: personal hygiene. Unfortunately, personal space in corporations is getting smaller and smaller. In most cases, you end up in very close quarters with many people most of the day, so personal hygiene becomes an extremely important topic.

You definitely do not want to have an awkward conversation with HR regarding your personal hygiene, perfume, hair etc. It is just embarrassing. However think about other people around you, how unpleasant it must have been for them to the extent that they reported it to HR. Before you go to work make sure you take a shower with mild cleanser. Heavy scented soaps, body washes, deodorants, perfumes, aftershaves are not suitable for workplace. Your Chanel 5 may be the best option for a night out, but will definitely be too heavy for the work place, try light perfumes that are designed for day-time use and avoid heavily scented body lotions.

If you go to the gym before work (or during business hours) or ride your bicycle to work, make sure you take a shower and make sure you change into clean clothes. Do not think you can cover up odors with perfumes. It is extremely impolite and unprofessional to distract others with unpleasant odors.

Wash your hair regularly and do not use hair oil, excessive hair gel or other styling products. Your hair should be well groomed and kept at a reasonable length. Avoid unnatural colors, processes and styles.

Do not forget to brush your teeth minimum of 2 times a day. If you are a heavy coffee drinker and/or smoker make sure you brush your teeth during the day multiple times and use mouth wash.

Most importantly do not groom yourself (brush your hair, clip your nails, shape your eyebrows…) in public, ever!

My final point is in cultural differences. You never want to make other people uncomfortable at work (or any other public place for that matter). In general, it is always a good idea to keep it quiet, do not hold lengthy conversations in open spaces (if you need to speak with someone for more than few minutes book a conference room), do not disturb others with your conversations, phone calls, music etc. When you are at work remember that you are in a shared place. Keep your area clean and odor free. Do not have pungent smelling foods at your desk. We always recommend going out of the office for lunch to the cafeteria or lunch room, this way the distraction will be kept to minimum. If you have to eat at your desk make sure you are keeping it quiet and not disturbing others, no one wants to hear someone slurping their soup and please choose dishes that are easy to eat in public places such as sandwiches instead of fish.

Again, pay attention to local customs, your peers and your company policy. When in doubt go for the conservative approach. We want every young graduate to be successful in their careers, and it would be a shame not to get the support that you need at work because of your perfume choices😊


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