Call center dress code: Benefits, options, best practices

by Andy Nguyen
call center dress code

Do call centers need a dress code?

After all, since call center agents provide the service through telephones, customers won’t know what the agent is wearing during the interaction.

However, having a call center dress code portrays professionalism and helps employees look like part of a team. It can also affect employee morale at the workplace.

In this article, we’ll cover a call center dress code, why it’s important, and different dress code options for call center agents. We’ll then discuss what your outlook should be on personal dressing choices.

And finally, we’ll highlight four best practices for implementing an appropriate dress code in your call center. 

This article covers:

(Click on a link below to jump to a specific section)

Let’s get started.

What is a call center dress code?

A call center dress code is a set of rules that specifies the required manner of clothing employees at a call center must wear. 

A dress code can vary from business to business, depending on the organization’s culture and industry. For example, industries like healthcare have a well-established dress code. Healthcare providers wear scrubs with little to no accessories to minimize germ transmission.

Similarly, you can decide on a dress code that matches your call center’s company culture and image while keeping employee comfort in mind.

But before that, let’s take a look at why a dress code is important for your workplace.

Why is a call center dress code important?

Here are the three biggest benefits of establishing a call center dress code:

1. Creates workplace cohesion

Imagine a workplace with some employees dressed for a cookout on the beach while others are in casual business attire! 

Isn’t that going to look disorganized?

To avoid such situations, you should have a standard dress code in place.

A dress code provides a sense of belonging and creates an atmosphere of uniformity. It gives employees a method to identify themselves as a part of a team working towards one purpose. 

Moreover, as a person’s behavior usually corresponds with the level of formality in their dress, employees unconsciously tend to act more professionally.

2. Avoids conflicts

Sure, casual clothes allow call center agents to feel comfortable. 

But an agent’s interpretation of casual clothing can easily be inappropriate for their co-workers.

Dress codes set an expectation for people on what to wear and avoid conflicts. It eliminates disputes on appropriateness or comfort since everyone will essentially be wearing the same thing.

3. Enhances personality

Every employee seems to represent their organization.

Although there is no physical interaction with customers in a call and contact center environment, dressing appropriately instills professionalism. Dressing smart also boosts an individual’s confidence and provides a sense of self-empowerment.

Moreover, the formality of an employee’s dress can correspond with their alertness at work and affect their performance and productivity.

So which dress code should you implement at your call center? 

Often, people get confused regarding the company dress code terms — formal vs. business casual, business professional vs. casual.

Now, let’s dive into the various types of dress code options for a call center.

What are the different call center dress code options?

We’ll take a detailed look at the different types of dress code options for your call center agents: 

1. Business casual

A business casual or casual business attire combines traditional business attire with a more relaxed yet professional style. 

For women, there is a wide variety of business casual dress options. They can choose from slacks and tidy jeans to blouses and sweaters.

Whereas a business casual dress code is rather straightforward for a man, they can choose from full suits, pants, professional shirts, and sweaters. Men could also wear a collared shirt or polo shirt without a jacket or tie. They can combine these with casual pieces of denim. 

Additionally, gender-neutral dress codes include a Henley or a polo shirt paired with non-denim pants and loafers.

2. Business professional

Business professional attire typically covers a modest piece of clothing to portray a professional image in the workplace. 

This type of business dress code can include suits, both for men and women. Sweaters paired with a tie are another option. 

Other than a suit, men can wear a blazer with dress pants, adding a simple tie on top. 

Women can pair a skirt or trousers with a blouse, leaving blazers or jackets at home altogether. But they should avoid wearing flashy jewelry.

3. Business formal

Employees can wear business formals on special occasions like business parties, special dinners, or other important events. The formal attire can make your call center employees look more professional.

Employees can add a matching business suit in a standard business formal dress code, including a jacket, dress pants, or a dress skirt.

Women can choose to wear a skirt suit or a suit dress and pair it with shoe options like heels, formal flats, or oxfords. They can wear a minimum amount of jewelry or make-up as well.

For men, there is not much difference between formal business and business professional attire. They can wear a dark suit and a tie. And for shoes, they can include loafers or dress shoes. 

To enhance themselves further, men can accessorize with belts, cufflinks, or tie clips.

4. Casual

Casual attire is informal clothing worn in most business settings and also outside of work. This dress code option best suits call centers since the employees do not directly engage with the customers.

However, employees should avoid casual dress during a job interview or business meeting with clients to avoid a bad first impression.

Casual clothes for men can include T-shirts or sweaters on top. For bottoms, they can wear jeans or shorts along with sneakers or sandals. For women, casual attire can be T-shirts, blouses, or sweaters on top. They can pair them with jeans, trousers, or skirts.

You can also add smart casual to the list. It typically includes a pair of jeans with a button-up shirt and leather shoes.

5. Staff uniform

Business or staff uniforms are work clothes that help individuals identify as employees associated with an organization. 

It can be anything from distinctive uniforms in the colors associated with the company or professional-looking garments with an embroidered logo. 

A business uniform can cultivate a sense of shared purpose among your employees – giving your call center a distinct identity.

However, as mentioned above, staff uniforms can be unnecessary for your call or contact center as your employees don’t physically interact with customers. 

But you should ensure that employees appear professional and in proper clothes for meetings or business conferences.

Wondering how to manage situations that fall out of these categories? 

Read on. 

What should your outlook be on personal dressing choices?

Let’s take a look at how you can incorporate personal choices in your company’s dress code: 

1. Religious clothing

An employee’s clothing can be a mode of expression of their religious identity

But at times, it can restrict employees from giving their best.

For example, wearing a headset can be a hassle if a call center agent wears a turban or headscarf, 

In this case, you can ask your employees upfront about their religious clothing choices and whether any changes can be acceptable or not. You can also provide a different style of equipment as needed.

It’s important to communicate that your dress code policy is non-discriminatory against any group or its beliefs. It should reassure employees that all views and preferences can coexist in a productive working environment. 

2. Tattoos

The display of body tattoos is another sensitive topic you will encounter while implementing a call center dress code. The reason for displaying tattoos differs from person to person. Some ink their body for religious purposes, while others have tattoos for personal reasons.

So how do you decide if a facial tattoo is pushing the line, but a tattoo on the arm is okay? 

As the employer, you have to consider what is generally acceptable for your workplace. A sensible approach would be to limit the policy provisions to visible tattoos.

However, suppose you believe that an employee’s tattoos don’t matter in a call center where they won’t interact with customers or clients. In that case, you may leave it out of the policy altogether.

3. Accessories 

Employers may choose to set guidelines for jewelry and other accessories in offices. It’s best to keep it simple in this regard.

For example, a minimal necklace can be appropriate, but extra-large earrings or flashy rings can be unprofessional. Additionally, offensive racial and religious designs or extreme body modifications can intimidate others.

You ideally want to avoid situations in which a person’s accessories become a source of distraction or conflict. 

With such sensitive topics to handle, how do you implement a call center dress code?

Let’s take a look.

4 best practices for implementing call center dress code 

Here are some of the best practices to manage a call center dress code.

1. Maintain a dress code policy

A dress code policy contains a list of guidelines that specifies appropriate attire to wear at work.

It can include measures like:

  • Employees must always maintain a professional and courteous appearance. 
  • Employees should dress in business casual, business formal, or business professional attire.
  • They should be well-groomed and wear clothes without any wear and tear signs.
  • Prohibit clothing with inappropriate and offensive gestures (racial or sexual) in the workspace.
  • Employees should avoid wearing revealing clothes in the workplace.
  • Religious clothing and tattoos are permitted under certain circumstances (to be specified or discussed with agents in person).

If you want to avoid drafting a dress code policy from scratch, here are two good templates for you:

2. Aim to be inclusive

Many companies try to adopt a ‘one size fits all’ approach to dress codes. 

But this could exclude certain types of employees. 

Here are some things you need to consider to become more inclusive while implementing a dress code policy:

  • Health concerns/disabilities: You need to make exceptions for employees with disabilities as they could not wear dress shoes or full-sleeve shirts.
  • Hairstyles: Hair is one of the most overlooked aspects of a dress code. You should avoid setting norms that will be alien to a person’s cultural or geographical context. For example, certain hairdos might not only be relevant to someone’s cultural context but also be the most convenient way of wearing one’s hair. In such cases, you should not force your employees out of their comfort zone.
  • Climate: The typical western dress code may not suit humid, tropical climates. It’s best to design a dress code policy that allows people to remain comfortable in all weathers. 

Finally, it’s critical to keep an open mind and invite suggestions from employees.

3. Define expectations

The best way to avoid unexpected or awkward situations is to define expectations and provide examples. And you can choose any dress code for your workplace as per your needs. 

If you want to portray a professional setting, you can go with a business formal dress code. Or, you can go ahead with a casual or business casual dress code for a relaxed office environment.

You can then include it in your dress code policy or employee handbook so that your employees can refer to it.

If possible, include visual examples of the types of acceptable and unacceptable clothing. That will help anchor employees’ expectations.

4. Be crystal clear on what is unacceptable

While defining expectations can broadly cover what is acceptable, it can leave room for some interpretation. For example, casual clothing dress codes can be misinterpreted and lead to some problematic situations.

That is why it’s completely understandable to deem certain items unacceptable if it goes against your business policies and ethics.

Here’s a list of such things:

  • Torn or extremely baggy pants or dockers.
  • Extremely short skirts or pants.
  • Any clothing piece that exposes the midriff.
  • Sportswear or leisure clothing like yoga pants, leggings, basketball shorts, flip-flops, athletic shoes, or tennis shoes.
  • Shirts or t-shirts with short-sleeves imprinted with inappropriate pictures or any offensive comments.
  • Any clothing, tattoo, or jewelry with offensive slogans or racist statements.

Wrap up

Whether it’s a staff uniform or business casual attire, a unified call center dress code can avoid conflicts and promote cohesion in your workplace. It can also boost an individual’s confidence and offers a sense of self-empowerment, ultimately improving productivity.

However, it’s essential to consider employees’ comfort and personal dressing choices while creating a dress code. 

Use the information provided in this article to establish a dress code that suits your call center best!

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