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Binnenlands Bestuur, the Dutch career website for civil servants, did a survey on government workers wearing shorts to work. Every year this discussion comes up. But what do government employees really think about shorts as workwear? And is there a difference between men and women?
Civil Servants are ok with wearing shorts to the Office
To investigate how civil servants feel about the subject, Binnenlands Bestuur ran a poll through their website. A total of 372 people responded. About 46% of the respondents felt that wearing shorts to work should be acceptable. 23% are of the option that it should be ok but only when there is no contact with clients. About 44% believe that wearing shorts to work is totally not appropriate. And lastly, 10% replied that while women should be allowed, men should not.
When I read the results, I had to smile. I myself worked at one of the largest government agencies for 5 years and saw plenty of shorts walking around. I was based in the executive department, amongst technicians working in the flora and fauna sector. During the summer months, people in my sector often turned up for work wearing shorts. But on the other side of the building where the people who worked on policy and politics were located, the dress code was more formal. Shorts were the exception, not the rule. In general, I feel that civil servants are pretty relaxed when it comes to clothes. I also noticed this when meeting colleagues from other government agencies.
Government versus commercial organizations
You really noticed the difference when we hired someone in from the private sector. The men always wore suits and would never show up to work in a pair of shorts. And the ladies, while not usually dressed in a suit, were definitely not wearing shorts.
My feelings were confirmed last year by House of Einstein. The company ran a survey about which clothing men find most irritating and inappropriate in the workplace, and yes, shorts were number three on the list. House of Einstein is an online store supplying men’s clothes and offers tailor-made clothing programs for companies such as Mckinsey, Google, and TomTom, so this is of course a completely different sector than government employees.
I am curious to hear your thoughts on civil servants wearing shorts to work. Do you find it acceptable or totally inappropriate?