Has The Pandemic Shelved Formal Office Clothing Forever?

Casual Friday? Or Casual Monday-through-Friday? In Argentina and elsewhere, confinement completely upended work routines — and may lead to the end of "dressing up" to go in the office.

Photo of a man wearing a soccer jersey working on his computer at home

Nary a tie in sight ...

Emilia Vexler

BUENOS AIRES — A minority of workers in Argentina remains "entrenched" at home, avoiding the office to escape catching the coronavirus. The rest have traded their at-home armor of slippers and pyjamas for suits, skirts and heels as they head back to the office for at least three days a week.

The pandemic created a hybrid work model that forced big firms to be flexible with work hours and office presence — and it's impacted dress codes. Even before the pandemic hit, suits and the corporate gear were starting to lose favor, making way for a grey area known as "smart casual."

Early adopters  

Remote work has always been part of company culture at Globant, an international firm for IT solutions. Now, they want to give this form of working "dynamic" permanence. The firm's 20,000 collaborators, or "globers," have returned to the office — flexibly. In all 12 of their Argentina offices, employees come whenever they want and for as long as they want, as long as they meet their goals.

Clarín visited their office in the Retiro district of Buenos Aires in 2020, a week before the country entered into confinement. Even back then, it wasn't a "traditional" workplace. There were no suits or sharp heels, yet workers weren't dressed carelessly. There were jeans and trainers, hair dyed black and blue, and sweaters with smiley faces — this was especially evident in a music room doubling as an informal meeting room. It was a relaxed but productive environment.

Globant's culture has always been "flexible," Axel Abulafia, executive vice-president for Business Development in Argentina, told Clarín. Part of that flexibility, he said, "is the dress code allowing every 'glober' to feel comfortable at work, and helping generate fluidity in teams, spaces and the challenges he or she must face. We believe they must feel at ease with themselves, which includes the way they dress. That's why we don't think a rigid dress code is relevant."

Ties are no longer necessary

One quirky effect of the pandemic on work is that so many new recruits of the past year or so, are not familiar with their co-workers nor their work premises. This was the case for almost 10,000 globers who joined the firm during confinement. That has made the initiation process trickier to manage; new workers must feel informed and accompanied. The firm is achieving this by assigning two partners to help every new "glober" settle into work.

Employee orientation includes constant reminders to use the face mask at all times (except when alone at your desk), and that ties are no longer necessary, as meetings with superiors would only happen on Zoom.

Photo of a woman wearing a flannel shirt working on her computer at home

What happens on Zoom ...

Annie Spratt

Are men's suits dead?

So, is this the end, both for total remote working and for suits at work? Even the most traditional firms are now less rigid with the dress code. The tie was phased out a decade ago as trend in casual Fridays started spreading across the week. At least for men. For women, it is not clear yet if the office can accept them in jeans and sandals rather than heels.

Before the pandemic, Roche Argentina had launched its #VestiteSegúnTuAgenda initiative to promote sartorial freedom among workers. It wanted employees to be "more themselves," says the firm's Persons and Culture chief, Nicolás Todino, while still respecting three principles: "Pick clothes suited to your work agenda, mind your appointments — especially if you'll be meeting with clients — and feel comfortable."

This doesn't mean everyone wearing pyjamas...

The pandemic has done to suits what it did to work hours and event venues. Ayelén Culaciati, head of marketing for the construction firm HIT, says that if the pandemic proved it's healthier to choose where you work, "why wouldn't it be the same with the way we dress in keeping with how we are, the temperature or how we feel that day?" That "doesn't mean everyone wearing pyjamas," she said, but turning that "focus and energy" in a more productive direction.

The pandemic has changed the way millions worked, she said, and this includes firms "going from the control paradigm to trust." She said flexibility, pragmatism and giving your collaborators "centrality," would win time and aid decision-making by the firm's talents. Culaciati says if the firm's culture "helps us feel calm and be the best version of ourselves," workers would be free to "focus on objectives, think differently and innovate from there. Isn't that the best thing?"

Support Worldcrunch
We are grateful for reader support to continue our unique mission of delivering in English the best international journalism, regardless of language or geography. Click here to contribute whatever you can. Merci!

Pro-life and Pro-abortion Rights Protests in Washington

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Håfa adai!*

Welcome to Thursday, where new Omicron findings arrive from South Africa, abortion rights are at risk at the U.S. Supreme Court and Tyrannosaurus rex has got some new competition. From Germany, we share the story of a landmark pharmacy turned sex toy museum.

[*Chamorro - Guam]


This is our daily newsletter Worldcrunch Today, a rapid tour of the news of the day from the world's best journalism sources, regardless of language or geography.

It's easy (and free!) to sign up to receive it each day in your inbox: 👉 Sign up here


• COVID update: South Africa reports a higher rate of reinfections from the Omicron variant than has been registered with the Beta and Delta variants, though researchers await further findings on the effects of the new strain. Meanwhile, the UK approves the use of a monoclonal therapy, known as sotrovimab, to treat those at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.The approval comes as the British pharmaceutical company, GSK, separately announced the treatment has shown to “retain activity” against the Omicron variant. Down under, New Zealand’s reopening, slated for tomorrow is being criticized as posing risks to its under-vaccinated indigenous Maori.

• Supreme Court poised to gut abortion rights: The U.S. Supreme Court signaled a willingness to accept a Republican-backed Mississippi law that would bar abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, even in cases of rape or incest. A ruling, expected in June, may see millions of women lose abortion access, 50 years after it was recognized as a constitutional right in the landmark Roe v. Wade case.

• Macri charged in Argentine spying case: Argentina’s former president Mauricio Macri has been charged with ordering the secret services to spy on the family members of 44 sailors who died in a navy submarine sinking in 2017. The charge carries a sentence of three to ten years in prison. Macri, now an opposition leader, says the charges are politically motivated.

• WTA suspends China tournaments over Peng Shuai: The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) announced the immediate suspension of all tournaments in China due to concerns about the well-being of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, and the safety of other players. Peng disappeared from public view after accusing a top Chinese official of sexual assault.

• Michigan school shooting suspect to be charged as an adult: The 15-year-old student accused of killing four of his classmates and wounding seven other people in a Michigan High School will face charges of terrorism and first-degree murder. Authorities say the suspect had described wanting to attack the school in cellphone videos and a journal.

• Turkey replaces finance minister amid economic turmoil: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan appointed a strong supporter of his low-interest rate drive, Nureddin Nebati, as Turkey’s new finance minister.

• A battle axe for a tail: Chilean researchers announced the discovery of a newly identified dinosaur species with a completely unique feature from any other creatures that lived at that time: a flat, weaponized tail resembling a battle axe.


South Korean daily Joong-ang Ilbo reports on the discovery of five Omicron cases in South Korea. The Asian nation has broken its daily record for overall coronavirus infections for a second day in a row with more than 5,200 new cases. The variant cases were linked to arrivals from Nigeria and prompted the government to tighten border controls.



In the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin, a reward of 10,000 yuan ($1,570) will be given to anyone who volunteers to take a COVID-19 test and get a positive result, local authorities announced on Thursday on the social network app WeChat.


Why an iconic pharmacy is turning into a sex toy museum

The "New Pharmacy" was famous throughout the St. Pauli district of Hamburg for its history and its long-serving owner. Now the owner’s daughter is transforming it into a museum dedicated to the history of sex toys, linking it with the past "curing" purpose of the shop, reports Eva Eusterhus in German daily Die Welt.

💊 The story begins in autumn 2018, when 83-year-old Regis Genger stood at the counter of her pharmacy and realized that the time had come for her to retire. At least that is the first thing her daughter Anna Genger tells us when we meet, describing the turning point that has also shaped her life and that of her business partner Bianca Müllner. The two women want to create something new here, something that reflects the pharmacy's history and Hamburg's eclectic St. Pauli quarter (it houses both a red light district and the iconic Reeperbahn entertainment area) as well as their own interests.

🚨 Over the last few months, the pharmacy has been transformed into L'Apotheque, a venture that brings together art and business in St. Pauli's red light district. The back rooms will be used for art exhibitions, while the old pharmacy space will house a museum dedicated to the history of sex toys. Genger and Müllner want to show that desire has always existed and that people have always found inventive ways of maximizing pleasure, even in times when self-gratification was seen as unnatural and immoral, as a cause of deformities.

🏩 Genger and Müllner want the museum to show how the history of desire has changed over time. The art exhibitions, which will also center on the themes of physicality and sexuality, are intended to complement the exhibits. They are planning to put on window displays to give passers-by a taste of what is to come, for example, British artist Bronwen Parker-Rhodes's film Lovers, which offers a portrait of sex workers during lockdown.

➡️


"I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them. Never."

— U.S. actor Alec Baldwin spoke to ABC News, his first interview since the accident that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie Rust last October. The actor said that although he was holding the gun he didn’t pull the trigger, adding that the bullet “wasn't even supposed to be on the property.”

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet and Jane Herbelin

Keep reading... Show less
Support Worldcrunch
We are grateful for reader support to continue our unique mission of delivering in English the best international journalism, regardless of language or geography. Click here to contribute whatever you can. Merci!