Thursday, April 12, 2007

Business Casual

I attended a dinner at the Google campus in Mountain View last night where the program was a discussion by its founders -- the two Larrys and Sergey as they are casually introduced sans the usual formal CVs of east coast corporate founders. Their commitment to philanthropy and having a global view is encouraging the wake of the Enron and Worldcom scandals of days of yore, but I'm not sure I could ever embrace the google business casual, way casual work style.

As I've heard many times from other visitors, there are onsite washing machines, which no doubt is a part of the 24-hour work ethic encouraged in that culture. I work from home, but my laundry involves quarters and a 50 foot walk north. When I arrived shortly after 6 p.m., there were google staff playing volleyball in shorts in a sand lot amidst the glossy glass and steel corporate offices. I think the last thing I would want to do at the end of the day is get in the sand pit with my coworkers.

Sergy and Larry were dressed in the usual t-shirts and jeans that supposedly went out with the dotcom busts of nearly a decade ago. The east coast philanthropist seated next to me leaned in and chimed, "So that's how billionaires dress today." Well, yes, sadly. IBM clearly had a rigid corporate orthodoxy, and google and little googles have their own that is no less strict in its orthodoxy albeit with a sub-casual sartorial veneer. Personally I sometimes pine for the days when it was almost required that a man wear a fedora to work.

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At 8:31 AM, Blogger no milk said...

i often wondered about what the impetus behind keeping people in formal business clothing. while there are extremes in business casual, i often feel that when people are comfortable and casual, they tend to be more open as well. i personally feel that what i wear doesn't affect my professional demeanor, and i love being able to wear jeans and t-shirts to work. :)

At 10:29 AM, Blogger Junk Thief said...

Sure, I'm not advocating going back to IBM style formal dress. It just seems that things have moved from one orthodoxy to another. What I think is disturbing with the "business casual/dress like you're at home" approach is that it sends a message that you really ARE at home and thus employers can ask you to work 12-15 hour days.

Seeing folks in shorts playing volleyball at work at 7 p.m. made me think, Wouldn't it be much more fun to do that away from the office? At least in the days of more formal business dress the lines between personal and professional time were more clearly drawn.

At 5:08 PM, Blogger Eva the Deadbeat said...

YES! Fedoras! I am with you. I just wish we all dressed a little nicer, not business suit-y but just with some care and class.

And you are so right, in the days when men wore sock garters, they left work at 5pm on the dot ! None of this I stay at work till 9pm and then go home to sit at my computer kind of crap.

Times have changed. We are always "working" these days (she says from her computer chair that she has not left all day except for tea breaks!)...


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