Summer Internship Series: Week 6

How “Common Sense Casual” Works in the Workplace

Shannon Poppe

Common sense casual is defined by the following: “You can wear what you want to work, but use your common sense.” This can range anywhere from dressing up for clients or dressing down for your desk — it is whatever makes the most sense for you.

One of MRI’s values on our beloved red wall is to promote a collegial environment for our employees. By changing the dress code to include t-shirts, jeans, and flip flops, we really get to know our co-workers better. You can tell who is a morning person, or what they are doing later. MRI employees can wear their corporate challenge shirts, and let other people know what event they are participating in. You can also tell what their favorite TV shows, preferred sports teams, or favorite color is. It is one way to help build relationships between people in and between departments.

This also takes the focus off of what you are wearing, and places it on what you are doing instead. People who are uncomfortable dressing up do not perform as well when they are forced to wear business professional. When they can wear their favorite jeans and t-shirt, they don’t take as much time to get ready and feel better about themselves and their day. From an HR perspective, it is important for your employees to be happy, comfortable, and productive. Common sense casual is the huge step in the right direction.

Common sense casual in the workplace is a natural step for MRI, as a software company and a employer of younger people (our average age is 34.7). People will be attracted to this aspect of the company and hopefully happier in their roles! I vote to keep it post-summer!

Tyler Delhees

Jeans and a comfortable shirt describe my typical dress this summer. The ‘common sense casual’ dress code at MRI has a good side and a not so good side in my opinion. The good side is that dressing casually contributes to a more collegial workplace and overall allows employees to be comfortable at work, important values here. There’s an approachability and spirit in the building. On the flip side, some employees know without a doubt that they work best when dressed in work slacks and a button-down shirt. They may even be distracted by the ‘common sense casual’ dress. I admit that I’ve found some truth to this contention and that I sometimes prefer to dress more business casual or formal depending on the occasion or workday. That’s not to say that the excitement associated with the new dress code should be discounted. It’s something new, a change, and a message.

The implementation of the dress code sends a message to all employees of MRI. That message is: “We have confidence in you to make your own decisions and dress appropriately.” This is a message of trust, and it echoes throughout MRI. Having experienced other workplaces, I know that this leniency and trust is not always extended to employees and is by no means standard. Indeed, there are times when coming to work one might choose more appropriate clothing for events such as interviews, meetings, or client visits. At MRI, the power to make this decision, at least this summer, lies in the hands of employees. It is the responsibility of each and every employee to come to work in what is appropriate for the day. To me, it’s a marvelous message.

Although the dress code this summer is not embraced by all, it sends the message of trust sent to all employees and makes being an #MRIntern an even better experience.

Jamie SteinesInternship 6

From button-downs to t-shirts, flats to sandals, and skirts to pants, ‘common sense casual’ allows for a variety of styles and comfort added to the everyday workplace. Most companies have dress codes that require employees to wear formal-business casual clothing. Here at MRI we are testing out the idea of a ‘Common Sense Casual’ dress code. From what I have experiences and what I have seen in the past 6 weeks I believe ‘Common Sense Casual’ works out well for everyone here and for the company as a whole.

‘Common Sense Casual’ literally means use your common sense to determine if what you want to wear is appropriate for work and if it is wear it! No need for dress shirts and dress pants every day if that’s not comfortable, but if it is then by all means wear it. I’ve seen some people wear business casual attire every day and I have seen people wear jeans and a t-shirt every day. Both seem to do their jobs and work just as well as the other. One thing I have noticed, however, it seems as though those who are higher up in the company wear more business casual clothing than others. Therefore, I now relate a more formal attire to someone with a higher title. This isn’t a bad thing or a good thing it is just an observation and assumption that I now have. The idea behind the move is that if you are comfortable at work than you won’t feel as eager to leave work and change into something you are comfortable in, which I agree with.

Since being here I have tried out several different outfit ideas to see how each would affect my day. For the most part, I don’t think one outfit made me more productive than another, but I definitely felt differently with each.

  • On days when I would wear jeans and a T-shirt I felt comfortable and similar to a lot of people in PD. I hardly noticed what I was wearing, it was just there. With this outfit I also felt like I was ready to start my day post-work because I was already in something I would wear in the evening.
  • Days when I wore a skirt I felt comfortable at my desk, but slightly more self-conscious when walking around due to the smaller amount of people wearing just as formal clothing.
  • When I would wear business slacks and a button down I felt pretty good. Not only was I semi-comfortable but I felt like I was dressed similarly to several others in the office and I was not eager to get home because I felt like I was in working clothes.
  • Lastly some days I will wear business slacks and a t-shirt to find some sort of in between outfit. This is my favorite. I am completely comfortable, don’t feel out of place, and not eager to leave the office.

Despite feeling different in all these outfits I still feel like I accomplished the same amount of work, just with a different attitude. Overall, I think ‘Common Sense Casual’ helps allow all employees to be as comfortable as possible and I don’t know who could complain about that.

Matt Mellinger

Common sense works in a way that promotes individuality, comfort and innovation in the workplace. I believe it be a highly contributing factor to the collegial and friendly atmosphere of MRI headquarters. Everyone is able to come into work every day in the clothing that they believe will enable them to work to their greatest capabilities. There is a wide variety of outfits that can be seen within MRI ranging from your expected business professional attire to men clad in eye popping Hawaiian shirts. The outfit choices of MRI employees are expressions of individuality that aid in the formation of enduring yet varying conversation based on their attire for the day. The comfort factor of common sense casual is huge when it comes to our productivity as employees! If an employee is distracted by wearing an uncomfortable suit and tie that must be adjusted every five minutes, their time that can be spent working and solving business problems is significantly lowered. Since common sense casual allows us to dress as we please our time that is spent working is at maximum levels. Finally I believe that having access to almost your entire wardrobe in the morning gets the creative juices flowing before even walking out the front door of your house in the morning. Solving the coding issue that faces you at the onset of your arrival at work in the morning is no longer the first use of your creative muscles in the morning. Those muscles have already been stretched and warmed up by the choosing your outfit for that day.

Bailey Spinner

I can remember one of the first things I thought about when I accepted the offer to work at MRI as an intern was what I should wear.  This sort of thing added more stress to the already stressful situation which is the dreaded “first day”.  Once the time got closer to my first day, I was told that the dress code was “business casual” and “common sense casual” which was something I was excited about because there is some flexibility in that code.  So on the first day that’s how I dressed and quickly realized that at MRI the “casual” was emphasized but in a great and motivating way!

After seeing all the full time employees after my first day, dressed in shorts and comfortable shoes and t-shirts it made me feel that much more comfortable knowing I didn’t have to worry about being underdressed at work and not looking professional.  I feel that this new code gives the employee another sense of relaxation while working.  When dressed how you feel is best but still appropriate makes the time at your desk and working feel less like a job and more like enjoying time with your friends at a computer.  This also adds to the production you can get out of your employees, with the philosophy that when you are dressed in your comfort zone you can get more done more easily I have found to be true.  Whether it’s a day I feel like dressing up in a button down and dress shoes or a day I want to wear khaki shorts and a Cavs jersey, I have that ability to choose which gives me a whole new additional reason to come back each day!

All in all, I find that having the “common sense casual” code is very beneficial in three ways; reduces stress of feeling underdressed, can be more productive in the clothes you enjoy to wear, makes a more fun and vibrant work atmosphere.  All of this together adds up to such a great place to work at, making everyone energetic and have fun energy all around the building.  This has all led to such a fun and productive summer for #MRInterns2016


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