My first job was an incredible job. One of the best jobs I could have had at that point in my life. It was a professional environment. People came in at 8:00, stayed until 5:00, and opened messages with phrases like “Per your request” and ended them with “regards”.
In addition to these rules, we also had a dress code. From Monday through Thursday we had to wear ties.
Our standard was to wear khakis or some form of cotton twill slacks with oxford shoes and a button down shirt, with a strip of fabric tied around one’s neck.
This was a very important rule. It portrayed a professional image to our customers. It demonstrated that we were team players, and that we took our work seriously.
But on Friday, we got to wear jeans. No tie was required. Tennis shoes often replaced the oxfords. Friday was great.
On Friday, the very important rules were no longer important.
But does that really make sense?
I would venture to guess that if the rules didn’t matter on Friday, they probably didn’t any other time either.
Once I determined that dress code didn’t matter, I wondered about everything else. Job descriptions, titles, long reports, work hours.
I’ve especially wondered about the standard work schedule. Why do we work five 8 hour days? Why not 6? Why not 4?
Maybe we’re just used to it, so we accept it.
How often do we accept something without reason, other than because everyone else does too?
The answer is ‘Everyday’
Everyday, we hold to norms that we accept simply because it is the prevailing standard. Anything different feels incorrect or strange. Is it time to revisit the standards we’ve been taking for granted? In the case of work hours, should we judge people by the work they deliver or the temperature of their Herman Miller chair?