COVID uniform trends and what the future looks like 

work wear

 The COVID-19 pandemic forced a dramatic change in perspective on what constitutes work wear. For those of us lucky enough to work from home during lockdown, we came to prioritise comfort when considering everything from working arrangements to work attire. From home, we enjoyed the luxury of customising our space, schedules, and outfits to meet our individual needs, and we quickly discovered that suits, ties, constrictive dresses and heels seldom make sense in a home office. I remain a strong proponent of looking professional even if you’re working from your kitchen bench – pyjama pants and activewear do nothing to aid focus or establish a boundary between off-duty and work modes – but a more relaxed approach to what ‘professional’ looks like presents fresh opportunities to express both employee individuality and brand identity, even as we transition away from exclusively working from home.

When it comes to uniform trends moving forward, the freedom of self-expression and the prioritisation of comfort appears to be here to stay. At Total Image Group, we’ve always been advocates for including staff members in the uniform design process, because a successful uniform should both represent your brand and make your employees confident and proud to wear it. Uniforms are a key piece of maintaining employee engagement; it reminds them that they’re part of the team, and what that team represents. Incorporating staff preferences and individuality in uniform design will become increasingly important in guaranteeing those positive benefits. The future looks like less rigid policies, more options, and increased flexibility.

If you’re apprehensive about changing up your uniform, there are simple ways of updating your brand look that offer more choice and comfort to your staff. Consider replacing a traditional black pant and white button up shirt with a tee and chino combination. Business trousers made with stretch fabrics can be complemented by a printed tee or fun polo for polished comfort. Providing a wide variety of high-quality outerwear can give employees extra options to dress according to the demands of their day: think adding a blazer for client meetings or a smart-casual branded hoodie for deep work at home.

Like any element of brand and marketing, a uniform design and implementation needs to be well thought out and consider the following:

1. Purpose

Uniforms should reflect a company’s brand and purpose. For companies that want to reflect contemporary sensibilities and an inclusive company culture, a range that is both cohesive but also allows for employee self-expression is the perfect compromise.

2. Practicality

Avoid focusing too much on the look without considering practicality, or vice versa! There is a significant difference between weekend wear and work wear, and whilst uniforms need to be fashion forward, they also must be functional and fit for purpose.   

3. Picture perfect

If you spend time creating a look, consider all factors. Will staff need a winter wear option? What trousers are they expected to wear? Do specific tasks require specific attire? There is no point creating a fabulous polo only to have it covered by a hot pink jumper that does not communicate the consistent story of your brand.  

4. Policy

The devil is in the details. Ensure there is a company uniform policy outlining dress standards. This ensures that whatever your staff are choosing to wear, it will still match brand expectations for professionalism and presentation.

In a post-COVID world, contemporary dress codes for both in-office and working from home will ensure unity, consistent messaging, and employee satisfaction for the long-term. When building your new look, make choice and personalisation key factors, whilst keeping fashion and function front of mind. This way, you can find the perfect compromise between representing your brand and letting the individual members of your team shine.