Over very many years, huge numbers of companies have expected their employees to wear a uniform or, at the very least, to dress smartly and in a similar fashion. Nowadays, on the other hand, businesses are increasingly allowing - even encouraging - staff to come to work in whatever they want. So do uniforms still have a place in the business world?
For a major retailer like Boots the Chemists the answer is unquestionably 'yes'. 'At Boots, uniforms are part of our total in-store environment, along with the fascia, logo and merchandising. They look smart and professional, and project a positive, brand image,' says Steve Houghton, a senior spokesman for the company. Uniforms also serve an identification purpose. 'Members of the public know who the staff are as they come through the door.' Just as important, they encourage employees to identify with the company and it's values. 'By providing uniforms, the company shows staff that it cares for them.' It's claimed, too, that uniforms can lift morale - if employees feel happy with what they are wearing, they will be happy at work. Certainly workers often take a very practical view of the matter. 'I know exactly what to put on in the morning,' says Sue, a checkout operator at a Safeway supermarket.
'I haven't got to find something to wear. And I don't have to spend my own money on working clothes either.'