Dressing for the flexible workplace

Dress code is an extension of a company’s approach to flexibility. Having a set of guidelines rather than a strict policy gives people a choice on what they wear based on how they are working on that particular day.

Rebecca Sebastian, Co-Founder Juggle Strategies & melo.

Tell us a little about you and your own work lifestyle

About 18 months ago I moved from a full-time corporate career to a portfolio career. I am a Co-Founder of two businesses, Juggle Strategies helping organisations successfully implement flexible working and recently melo, focussed on reducing the mental load of families in Australia. I also work with organisations to build and deliver well being and resilience programs and run my own consultancy. The amazing thing about this is no two days are ever the same. I might have coaching sessions in the morning, discuss the progress of an app we are working on, deliver a webinar and keep up to date with the latest research. Couple that with my office being at home, three boys, a husband and a new puppy life is pretty hectic!

What impact have you seen COVID-19 has had on the way women are working?

The term mental load was coined a few years ago and means that one parent (usually female) is running around carrying the logistics of organising the family in their head. COVID-19 has sent this into overdrive with the additional responsibilities of home schooling and childcare.

Women have had to rethink how they work and create a structure that aligns with everything going on. A typical day is made up of blocks of time that interchange between deep work, childcare, shallow work and home responsibilities.

The last six months have been a forcing function to mainstream flexible working as organisations recognise that a 9-5 workday in the office is outdated and unrealistic. It’s exciting for me to see the changing landscape, where I think a hybrid model of time spent wherever you do your best work is here to stay. It makes sense on so many levels, particularly for women with so many different responsibilities.

What are some of the key considerations when dressing for this new flexibility?

Part of the work we do at Juggle Strategies is focussed on helping people design their day based on the type of work they are doing. What you wear can have a big impact on your productivity as well as being a great way to create boundaries.

We place an emphasis on planning, ideally the night before for the day ahead as this reduces decision fatigue and helps you make the most of your available time. For me, I have three outfits set aside each evening, gym gear for first thing in the morning, comfortable clothes for deep work like research and if I am facilitating a webinar something business casual.

This may seem like a lot however it really works for me. Changing from gym gear signals a clear transition from home to work and from something comfortable to business casual gets me in presentation mode.

Are you seeing organisations review their work dress policy in light of recent changes?

Definitely. These guidelines are being communicated as part of an organisations overall approach to flexible working with the emphasis on being presentable yet comfortable based on where you are working and what you are working on.

What One P garments do you recommend

I have a few merino wool tees; they are so comfortable and have a great cut, so they sit really well. For webinars my go to are the silk shirts which nail business casual without looking too formal.

I have just added a short sleeve TENCEL linen classic top to my collection which is going to get a lot of wear over summer. The shape is really flattering without hugging or being restrictive. The best thing about all these pieces is they are machine washable; this is a non-negotiable for me now when I am choosing clothes as it’s a huge cost and time saver.