David Alexander is joint managing director of property management company Apropos by DJ Alexander Ltd
The recent news report which quoted an estate agent who had ordered his staff to take off their ties and dress more casually highlights changes in the world of work which some welcome and others abhor. Formality is out and informality is in, but I would question whether this is appropriate in all workplaces.
I have worn a suit and tie to work every day for nearly 40 years and I believe that it makes you feel confident, assured, and helps your clients to feel comfortable and reassured that they are dealing with a professional who will help them achieve their desires.
Of course, you can dress casually, you can be tieless and in jeans if you wish but it is naïve to assume that this is a neutral decision. Appearances do matter, and people assess competence, ability, and reliability based on the way people look as well as what they say. If a waiter approaches you in a restaurant with dirty hands and fingernails in a tattered t-shirt and trainers, you will definitely form an opinion about what sort of experience you are about to have.
Of course, ultimately what matters is the service and advice you provide. But the impression of competence, of reliability, of knowledge and understanding is, in my opinion, immeasurably enhanced by more formal dress.
Many young people may view a suit and tie as old fashioned, but they are not the whole market they are only a part of the market. The latest research claims that only one in ten employees now wears a suit to work with 70% dressing casually at work because it makes them feel more comfortable.
This may all be true but there are certain jobs that require a certain dress sense. When you are dealing in property either selling or renting you are helping people to make an enormous decision in their lives: which property they are going to make their home. If you are speaking to landlords and investors you are asking individuals and groups to make major financial decisions and a certain sober-suited gravitas helps in such situations. It is not that casual wear is wrong in all circumstances but there is still a place, I believe, for suits and ties and smart dress.
To paraphrase the title of the new Bond movie, many may feel there is ‘No time to tie’ but I believe certain roles require a certain dress code and we need to make time to dress appropriately.