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Uniforms For the Help Desk? 837

An anonymous reader writes "I am an IT worker in a mid sized company with approximately 500 employees. There are 30 people on the IT staff, 6 of whom are on the help desk. Our help desk does have significant visibility in the company, and most people know us by face (some by name). Recently the idea has been floated up the management chain to have these help desk workers wear IT department branded shirts. The idea is to promote visibility and unity. Wearing of these shirts would be mandatory Monday through Thursday. The shirts would not be identical (there would be several styles offered). We would be the only department with specific garments outside of the normal business casual dress code. Is management out of line with the industry in promoting this sort of policy change? Is the singling out of 6 employees as 'the IT guys' a step in the right direction, or does it detract from the professionalism that we are trying to display as a department?"
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Uniforms For the Help Desk?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @04:50PM (#30587036)

    To me, it's a little close to wearing a fast food uniform. It would bug me.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @04:51PM (#30587054)

    You are blue collar workers, get use to it.

  • I like uniforms (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mike Buddha ( 10734 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @04:55PM (#30587120)

    I haven't had to wear one in almost 20 years, but when I did, I liked it, because then I didn't have to think about what I was going to wear to work.

    Maybe they're trying to send you guys a not-so-subtle message that maybe your business casual is a bit too casual?

  • by Petersko ( 564140 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @04:56PM (#30587138)
    If you're like most companies that are trying to keep a "helpdesk-centric" model going, your group is the forward face of IT, and the contact point. Help desks aren't about strong individuality - they're about consistency/uniformity of service. I don't see why the idea couldn't be extended to wearing branded shirts.

    When your skills outgrow the help desk - and they should - consider losing the uniform as a perk of advancement.
  • by poetmatt ( 793785 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @04:58PM (#30587176) Journal

    yeah, maybe someone should ask why management isn't wearing department specific garments that say "management" on them.

    All those garment suggestions do spell out, however, is "mismanagement".

  • by L3370 ( 1421413 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @04:59PM (#30587186)
    With conspicious uniforms mandated for your help desk and NO ONE ELSE, I'd imagine it equivalent to taping a bulls-eye to your back on a battlefield.

    This may be the desired effect from management but the HD will probably despise it. Every time a coworker passes by you and your neat little t-shirt, it will remind them about that computer problem that just cant wait untill you are done eating...or smoking that cigarette, or taking a leak in the public restroom.

    I know that this feeling is already experienced by those of us in IT, but I think this would worsen the problem.
  • What?! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wiedzmin ( 1269816 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @05:00PM (#30587218)
    You have 30 people in IT staff for a company of 500 people?! You lucky bastard!
  • Re:I like uniforms (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sasha328 ( 203458 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @05:01PM (#30587230) Homepage

    I agree. I think uniforms (or rather badged shirts) make my life much easier. At my place of work (an engineering company) I am the only IT guy, and I don't interact with customers, so I rarely wear a dress shirt to work.
    The other staff can wear anything as long as it is "professional", and at times they do wear the company badged shirts.

    I would say, don't worry about it and enjoy it.

  • by mewsenews ( 251487 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @05:02PM (#30587244) Homepage

    The idea is to promote visibility and unity.

    As opposed to interchangeability and lack of individuality?

    Why on earth should your help desk boys be forced to wear uniforms by policy when the rest of the office get to dress like professionals? From my viewpoint, the whole question just oozes social stratification.

  • by emc ( 19333 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @05:03PM (#30587268)

    yeah, maybe someone should ask why management isn't wearing department specific garments that say "management" on them.

    What do you think a tie actually is?

  • lovely (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jollyreaper ( 513215 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @05:04PM (#30587278)

    First reaction is that this is nothing more than flair and you know who else made people wear flair? TGI Fridays! AndHitler.

    Second more reasonable reaction: which other departments are required to wear uniforms? If IT is being made to stand out like a redheaded stepchild, that's not cool. I'm trying to think of other businesses that have that kind of uniform/plainclothes distinction. Delivery drivers, pest control people, UPS, the people who go out in the field wear the uniform. They're also the lowest paid of the bunch. McDonalds lets the managers wear a dress shirt and tie. Dealerships have the mechanics wearing uniforms but not the sales people and office staff. Pretty much anyone in uniform is on the lower end of the totem pole. IT is supposed to be a co-equal department, right?

    It might seem like I'm making a bit much of it but I think this is really an outward sign of holding IT in lower regard than the other departments. Let me know when Accounting gets assigned jumpsuits.

  • Re:Economy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @05:07PM (#30587330)

    That's alot IT staff for only 500 employees. Our organization is 13,000 employees with 10 IT Staff.

    Yeah, this seems like a management issue on several fronts. First, why do you need one IT person for every 17 people in the company? Second, if the manager's stated idea (and I'm betting it's the head "IT guy" who had this idea) is to "promote visibility and unity" for the IT group, why is it only the helpdesk guys have to wear the shirts?

    I'd guess the REAL reason is something like this. Some higher-up complained to the IT manager - it may have been about the helpdesk, or it very well may have been about the IT manager himself. This scared Mr. Manager, who in the best "bad manager" tradition came up with a really stupid idea that he thinks will make it look like a) he's actually doing something, and b) his role as manager of the brownshirts is vital.

  • Good point. I would have to see the uniforms before passing judgment. Without further information, I would say that in general, uniforms marginalize individuals and make them feel like a smaller cog in the machine.

    The ability to demonstrate professionalism with attire is an important part if being a professional. If uniforms are being suggested because IT guys currently are dressing inappropriately(gasp), then that's a failure of management to enforce what are likely already existing business casual attire rules.

  • by Derling Whirvish ( 636322 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @05:07PM (#30587346) Journal
    Are surgeons (who have to wear scrubs) and airline pilots (who have to wear uniforms) also close to wearing a fast food uniform in your view?
  • by bensode ( 203634 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @05:09PM (#30587372)

    Be thankfull it's not a jacket,shirt & tie mandatory rule. I've ruined more nice clothes than I care to calculate the value over the years at the office. I am totally greatful that our CFO here doesn't mind that we (IT staff) wear jeans & polo shirts when everyone else is jacket, shirt & tie.

  • by Jim Robinson Jr. ( 853390 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @05:11PM (#30587412)

    I hate to disillusion you, but IT has always been blue collar.

  • by rueger ( 210566 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @05:13PM (#30587450) Homepage
    My God. If your employer wants a uniform (or uniform appearance) you wear the shirt. Who cares? They're paying your salary, so they call the shots.

    In the grand scheme of workplace complaints this is so low on the list as to be not worth mentioning.
  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vindicator9000 ( 672761 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @05:14PM (#30587462)
    Funny, but my company did just mandate blaze orange shirts for all front line IT staff. I can't for the life of me figure out who thought that was a good idea. Mine comes in Monday. We can also wear Navy. I think I'm going to get an equal number of pairs of blaze orange and navy pants and alternate them daily. Personally, I find it extremely condescending. I'm required to design and maintain hundreds of databases, several servers, write apps, troubleshoot network problems, manage million dollar projects, AND do desktop support for 2000 devices with 3 other IT people for $40K/year. And now this. No wonder I've thrown my hands up today and am now posting on slashdot. Yes, I'm looking for a way out.
  • Re:Professionalism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @05:15PM (#30587480)

    Don't argue, take advantage!

    T-shirts scream "peon". Suggest shirts from a uniform service (so you dont have to buy replacements or wash them yourself) and come up with a professional logo. Dark colors don't show sweat and stains as much. Dark blue or black would stand out. Brown is depressing.

    "Money, energy and resources wasted on this would probably be better spent on something worthwhile that would actually have an impact on the team's ability to provide quality service."

    I wouldn't give a shit. Pay me and pay for my clothes if ya don't like what I buy myself.

  • Re:Professionalism (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @05:20PM (#30587574)

    There is a funny thing about stereotypes- they tend to have some truth to them. Seriously, I am looking around right now, and looking at my fellow IT guys, and then looking at say the sales people, or even HR, and IT guys dress way sloppier. From what I see, even if they are following the dress code to the letter, generally there is less pride shown in their appearance, whether its their frumpier shoes, faded pants, or wrinkly shirts that appear to have been selected for the cheapest possible price, not because it fits them particularly well.

    Now of course we can sit here and piss at the wind at each other over the internet until we are blue in the face, but I think if you ask a random sampling of people in your company what the worst dressed department is, IT will be up there at the top.

    Now, whether or not IT needs to dress up to get their job done, is another story altogether, but keep in mind, the accounting department probably dresses in business attire, and do they need to do that to do their job? Does HR? Payroll? It is about the image you are projecting of the firm to others. IT generally thinks they are above doing those sorts of things, and then we wonder why we don't get much respect from management.


  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @05:22PM (#30587614)

    In that case I'd ask management to have enough guts to tell you what they really want. If they think you dress like slobs they should tell you so. I have no sympathy at all with gutless management and you shouldn't either.

    You may sleep better if you never know.

    The answer might be that they never intended to do it. "Oh, all of you hate the idea? I would have never guessed. Well, the good news is I convinced my boss to just skip that idea, we won, yeah for us! Oh and by the way, I forgot to mention, no pay raises or bonuses in IT this year. But, its all good since we won the battle of no uniforms! See, we get a reward sometimes!"

    Or they very consciously intended to pull your chain... Need to downsize 10% this year? Make working conditions intolerable until 10% quit. Then suspiciously get rid of the dumb ideas. See, everyones happy no one had to be fired!

  • by pz ( 113803 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @05:24PM (#30587634) Journal

    Whether you wear department shirts won't affect the professionalism.

    The right answer depends on:

    1) the culture of the company at large, and of the IT group in particular. Heck, if you "have fun" with it, it could be a big plus
    2) whether there is some other lurking problem you have not mentioned the shirts attempt to address

    You hit it right on the nose.

    To the OP:

    There's the issue of exactly what the uniforms look like. It sounds like shirt-and-tie isn't already required at this office, so if you want to empower yourselves, give yourselves a HIGHER dress code than is required by the rest of the company. If management says you have to wear crappy knit golf shirts, then say, "we'd much rather all wear these better button-down shirts, thank you." If management's shirts are actually nice, then say, "thanks, we're also going to wear ties." Your department is apparently an important part of the company, and a part that has a lot of exposure; dress like you understand that.

    Personally, I like ties. I have a large collection of high-quality and unusual ties I've bought over the years at different thrift stores. No, they aren't all ultra thin, and I don't buy crappy ties. I wear one every Friday, partly in reaction to the casual Friday schtick that I dislike, and partly to remind myself that I have a professional position (but one that does not require a tie). A properly sized shirt with a properly tied tie is not uncomfortable at all. Discomfort often comes from the neck size of the shirt being too small.

    Remember, dress for the job you want, not the one you have. And also that it is difficult to be overdressed, especially in professional circles.

  • Re:I like uniforms (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArsonSmith ( 13997 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @05:29PM (#30587716) Journal

    "Oh, and the reason I prefer not to wear a uniform is so I can express myself."

    What are you, 13?

  • by nomadic ( 141991 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <dlrowcidamon>> on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @05:30PM (#30587750) Homepage
    They're clearly trying to force you into a blue collar category.
  • by rtfa-troll ( 1340807 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @05:32PM (#30587774)

    Are surgeons (who have to wear scrubs)

    It's the fact that surgeons don't wear scrubs when meeting patients which shows exactly what the difference is here

    and airline pilots (who have to wear uniforms)

    More interesting, but these are quite specifically officers uniforms. Uniforms often have specific meaning and represent power only through authority. Approximately as follows: cleaner / fast food attendant / security guard / soldier / nurse / policeman / fireman / doctor(?) / officer / judge

    by working out which group your uniform is based on (in this case, I guess security guard) you can guess what they are saying about social status.

  • by Slashdot Parent ( 995749 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @05:32PM (#30587780)

    If I were the IT manager, I wouldn't want extra visibility for the IT guys, because it seems to me it would encourage users to circumvent the proper helpdesk channels. Whenever a uniformed IT guy walks by, I can just hear the one-off requests/questions, that would be completely untrackable.

    Besides, I always thought in the best-run shops, you never knew that IT existed. :)

  • by eln ( 21727 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @05:38PM (#30587884) Homepage
    Sure, but "assless chaps" is funnier than "chaps". It also implies the chaps are worn without pants, thus leaving the ass exposed. It's a way to differentiate the chaps a cowboy would wear, over the jeans, versus the chaps worn at gay discos in the 1970s, without jeans. Even though the chaps in question may be identical articles of clothing, the word "assless" connotes a very different style of dress.
  • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @05:39PM (#30587886) Homepage

    As long as uniforms are there to bridge the gap between, more formal office attire and shop floor clothing. Working at a desk and getting under one and in other messy places to check the connections, as well as carting around dusty computers, is rather messy for more formal attire. Likely the real reason for the uniform is so that you will stand out, so when your walking past or in the vicinity they can spot you and grab you to immediately to assist them.

    This creates a new problem for support in keeping track of the company food chain and making sure those higher up get served first and those lower down get served last and making it politely clear to those waiting why they are waiting, or why you must continue on to assist someone else.

    It will work like this, you leave your desk to assist one person and on the way there and on the way back other people will pester you to solve all kinds of trivial junk because you are handy and, then everyone will complain that you are never at your desk. After that comes a mobile connection so no matter where you are in the office, toilet, lunch, working under a desk with cables, you are expected to answer the phone to solve problems. Uniforms equals computer janitors.

  • by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @05:50PM (#30588048) Homepage

    Seriously - doctors, nurses, mechanics, police officers, firemen, geeze, a *bunch* of legitimate professionals wear uniforms, many with pride. Now, you're thinking "I'm an office worker, I'm above that". I don't know. Being in a service industry (and that's what IT is within your company - an inward-facing service division) I think a uniform can actually make some sense in this case. I'd like to know more about their reasoning, though. As others have said, maybe it's just a way to get you to dress somewhat normally.

    How about a trade-off - you wear the uniform but you also get a company car?

  • by innocent_white_lamb ( 151825 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @06:05PM (#30588230)

    If uniforms are being suggested because IT guys currently are dressing inappropriately(gasp),
    What is appropriate depends on the job, and management may not understand what these guys do.
    Sitting at Jane Secretary's desk and showing her how to open a document is one thing; crawling under the server room floor to drag a cable from X to Y is something else.
    Several years ago I spent an entire week inside of a ceiling dragging serial cables and feeding them down into walls.

  • well said (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @06:16PM (#30588350)

    Having a uniform takes the usage out of my own clothes. Christ the number of ruined shirts I had when I worked for EMC because of the times I ended up crawling in some crappy floor space to pull a cable through.

    However we had to go onsite in suit and bloody tie. I'd have loved some 'free t shirts' - hell, give me half a dozen and that's my dad sorted for Christmas ;)

    Hell i loved School Uniform when i was a kid because I didn't have to care that I wasn't following the latest fashion.

  • Re:I like uniforms (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @06:17PM (#30588366)

    Maybe they're trying to send you guys a not-so-subtle message that maybe your business casual is a bit too casual?

    You are forgetting the asshat factor. There are just asshats out there who look to 'fix things'. They see an opportunity to make someone *ELSE* do something and they get to look good suggesting it. From the description I would bet MONEY that this is the case. Make *THEM* personally wear the same uniform and pay for it out of pocket like the IT guys and suddenly it will not be such a good idea.

    Someone should stand up and say 'ok maybe our atire is a bit out of line(?) we will clean it up. However, I think mandating uniforms is a bit far unless you are willing to institute this across the compnay. You would be discriminating against us.' Bring up the D word and suddenly HR is involved and it becomes an 'ugly' thing.

    It is amazing the number of 'old outdated' ideas I have seen re-rise to the top of the pile now that the 'economy is bad'. Everyone seems to be listening to the worst of the stupidest ideas from old management ideas and calling them new again.

  • Re:I like uniforms (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @06:24PM (#30588442)

    Oh, and the reason I prefer not to wear a uniform is so I can express myself.

    If your natural expressiveness does not come through regardless of what you are wearing, you are doing it wrong.

    I wore uniforms for one or two jobs, I was plenty expressive regardless. What you really don't want are the jobs where you have to wear a uniform AND exhibit no expressiveness.

  • Re:lovely (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rantingkitten ( 938138 ) <kitten@mirr[ ] ['ors' in gap]> on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @06:28PM (#30588496) Homepage
    I'm trying to think of other businesses that have that kind of uniform/plainclothes distinction. Delivery drivers, pest control people, UPS, the people who go out in the field wear the uniform. They're also the lowest paid of the bunch.

    Those people aren't wearing a uniform because they're viewed as less important employees, but rather, for the other reason you mentioned -- they're the ones out in the field. Having them wear a uniform does a few things: It keeps the company image visible to the public, and it also provides customers with at least some insurance that the random doofus knocking on their door or asking to be let into the office is, in fact, there for a legitimate reason.

    In some cases the "uniform" is less to maintain a uniform appearance among employees and more of a practical consideration. You offered mechanics at dealerships as an example. They're wearing coveralls because that's the only practical garment for someone who will be tinkering with grease and oil-covered engines all day. What would you suggest they wear, a suit? Besides, any dealership worth a damn appreciates skilled mechanics.

    Similarly, a chef's clothes are practical as well, at least to an extent. The crisp white looks clean and hygenic and that's important for people to see from a chef. The pockets along the sleeves and shirtfront are useful for carrying thermometers and other tools, and the double-breasted construction can be reversed to hide any accidental stains. And you'd better believe that in any fine restaurant, the chef is highly valued.

    Another notable counterexample to your list is an airline pilot, who, particularly the more senior ones, can command an impressive salary with all kinds of perks and benefits, and is obviously nowhere near the bottom of the totem pole.

    Pretty much anyone in uniform is on the lower end of the totem pole.

    Perhaps, but at least in our culture, people expect service personnel to be in uniform. Your examples are all service personnel. And the truth is, helpdesk is the lowest end of the totem pole in IT.

    Having worked helpdesk before I naturally balk at the idea, but in most places, I don't see how helpdesk is fundamentally any different from the waiters, cashiers, bus drivers, skycaps, security guards, and so forth, all of whom we expect to be in uniform.
  • by WidescreenFreak ( 830043 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @06:32PM (#30588536) Homepage Journal
    Forcing uniforms especially for a group of people that have nothing to do with PR are nothing more than rose-colored, management "feel good" techniques. If the people were out in public, meeting clients, or standing in front of a television camera regularly, then fine. But sitting at a desk? Where almost all of their communications are by phone or e-mail? Uniforms are demoralizing, as far as I'm concerned. Professionalism comes from the heart and soul of a person and nothing else. The structure and design of the cotton on the exterior of a person's external integument mean nothing, especially to those who sit at a desk all day. You tell me who's more professional: the person in the three-piece suit who belches, farts, and swears all of the time, or the person in the t-shirt and jeans who acts respectfully, always smiles, and courteously helps those who ask for help? The notion that a tie or uniform suddenly converts a person into a "professional" is insulting.
  • Re:Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tgrigsby ( 164308 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @06:32PM (#30588546) Homepage Journal

    Time out...

    You design and maintain hundreds of databases, write apps, manage projects, maintain servers and hardware devices... and you only charge $40k a year.

    Dude. You're SO doing it wrong. Your paycheck is an epic fail. What country are you living in?

  • by gbutler69 ( 910166 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @06:47PM (#30588712) Homepage

    Remember, dress for the job you want, not the one you have.

    This is absolute BULLSHIT! What we have now is a whole lot of people fucking around trying to impress everyone else with their fashion sense rather than actually accomplishing anything noteworthy. As far as I'm concerned, anyone who bases their decisions on the fashion sense of those around them is a sheep and deserves to be treated like one (i.e. most people).

  • by ( 919212 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @07:02PM (#30588844)

    There are plenty of times and places where uniforms gain respect. In many civilizations, wearing a military uniform was very much a sign of respect, certainly a high ranking one anyway. Lots of people still respect firefighters and police officers today. At one time government officals all wore uniforms as a mark of position. Also as noted, suit and tie are definitely a uniform of a kind.

    Uniforms gain you respect IF the institution they represent is respected. So it can be a benefit (IT, those guys are great) or a problem (geez, another IT goon). In all cases it sets you apart and puts you in a class.

    Also the surrounding culture matters. If you are surrounded by suits, wearing a uniform will likely pull you down the totem pole. If the standards of dress are very lax, then it might make you stand out and appear to have your act together. Management will still view themselves as above you, but you might gain over all organizational respect.

    So a risky move that might pay off if you understand your culture well.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @07:07PM (#30588904)

    It's kind of silly to look at numbers and make calls like that. As he said, the vast majority of the IT staff are not help desk staff. Perhaps he should have called them technology staff, instead of IT staff.

    It is very possible that the company he works for is just extremely technology focused.

  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @07:18PM (#30589018)

    so when your walking past or in the vicinity they can spot you and grab you to immediately to assist them.

    That is the normal situation with or without a uniform once they know you. For example:
    Last week there was a network outage that occured when payroll was doing the last minute scramble to get everyone paid by Christmas. I was putting up a ladder to look at a switch to try to track down the problem when a sales guy that uses webmail came running out of his office saying "everyone else is using explorer for their email - could you set me up now so my email is on my computer in explorer?". It turns out he meant Outlook f*ing express (I pity the fool). It took several hints that I was busy and would get someone else to look at it later and finally he left me alone after I told him that if I didn't fix the problem quickly he wouldn't get paid in time. This is of course the general attitude to IT staff even if they are wearing ties.
    Fixing the outage was easy - for historical reasons a network link between two adjacent buildings starts with two plugs connected by a short patch cable high up the wall in an electronics workshop. One of the technicians had brought in his old laptop and needed a patch cable. He knew he would get in trouble for attempting to connect it to the network and download movies so he didn't want to ask for a cable. Instead he got a ladder and unplugged the patch cable high up the wall and used that. He still couldn't get on the network so just left the cable on the bench. It only took a minute to set up a ladder and plug it back in, social problems however take longer to solve.
    You are a computer janitor to everyone even if you wear a tie and have a big enough budget to purchase clusters. A uniform is just a uniform.

  • by pz ( 113803 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @07:41PM (#30589186) Journal

    Remember, dress for the job you want, not the one you have.

    This is absolute BULLSHIT! What we have now is a whole lot of people fucking around trying to impress everyone else with their fashion sense rather than actually accomplishing anything noteworthy. As far as I'm concerned, anyone who bases their decisions on the fashion sense of those around them is a sheep and deserves to be treated like one (i.e. most people).

    Reality would strongly suggest that you are wrong. Inter-personal relationships are, like it or not, based in great part on our appearances. That's why uniforms work. If you chose to be a slob, then you have to be far more talented to get the job that the fellow next in line who is better dressed.

    Try wearing a suit some time when you don't have to. Just try it. Not a crappy fitting suit that looks like it's 20 years old, but one that fits well, and looks good. Just try it. My experience doing that suggests that you will get more respect, be taken more seriously, and your professional life will be a lot easier.

    Me, I work for a fellow who is in charge of a department of 30 people with a budget of 300 million dollars. It would have to be an emergency for me to not wear a least a button down shirt, slacks, and a tie if not a suit when going to his office. Do you really think you would be taken seriously if you showed up in a similar office wearing a t-shirt and jeans?

    Remember, uniforms exist because they work. It's social engineering.

  • Re:I like uniforms (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xaxa ( 988988 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @08:10PM (#30589356)

    Good point, and I think there is at least some truth in it.

    But, every man who wears a non-average (more/less expensive, designer label, etc) suit is expressing something about himself. Someone wearing an average suit is also expressing something. Wearing a suit in the first place expresses plenty.

    I don't quite know why I still like wearing clothes that stand out. I do own some "normal" (well, cheap) clothes, but feel strangely uncomfortable if I wear them outside my house. Even though I don't really like formal clothes I did enjoy wearing my graduation robes for far longer than most of my class bothered. Hmmm.

  • by EdIII ( 1114411 ) * on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @08:18PM (#30589416)

    All those garment suggestions do spell out, however, is "mismanagement".

    It's not mismanagement at all. It is the difference between blue collar workers and white collar workers.

    Janitorial staff wears a uniform. Fast food workers wear a uniform. Security guards wear a uniform.

    The management over there clearly sees IT as a bunch of over paid blue collar workers that only do what they do since they could not get an MBA from an Ivy League school. I may be over reacting here, but I see it as flat out disrespect.

    On another note, it absolutely sends the wrong message. People in uniforms take them off at the end of the day. In my mind, it provides a logical disconnect once 5pm hits and they can leave and take off the uniform. No more loyalty, no dedication to the company, no doing whatever it takes to get the job done right. No disrespect to uniformed workers, intended, but seriously, what vested interest do they have in the company? They are hourly workers with poor benefits usually that can get treated like crap.

    Uniforms just suck in my opinion. I worked too hard to be able to do what I do in my field to get to wear a uniform and just clock in. That's not my mentality. I take my job seriously and just do whatever it takes to make sure everything is running with best practices, redundancy, failover, etc.

    A uniform would seem to put a serious hit on morale for IT workers that are really worth something.

  • Re:Economy (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @08:34PM (#30589530)

    I worked for a finance company who had 400 staff of which 45 were in IT. The IT department was so big because the core development of their finance software was carried out there.

    Point of rant is, just because there is only 500 staff that doesn't mean that there should be a small IT component.

    To OP.. I would say no to the uniforms, unless 1) the whole IT department will wear them, or 2) the whole organisation will wear similar uniform. Unity by seperation doesn't make sense.

  • by jotaeleemeese ( 303437 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @08:43PM (#30589590) Homepage Journal

    "Likely the real reason for the uniform is so that you will stand out, so when your walking past or in the vicinity they can spot you and grab you to immediately to assist them."

    The only way to organize technical support in a big company (and 500 people is quite big already) is to prioritize the work.

    What you suggest above is anathema to proper prioritization. Nothing kills planning like doing adhoc work.

  • Are you joking? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RandomPsychology ( 932636 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @08:49PM (#30589634) Homepage
    What's your problem?? Are you *really* going to turn down the opportunity to make one less decision each day?
  • by dissy ( 172727 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @09:25PM (#30589870)

    And the problem with being a janitor or just another facilities maintenance person is... what exactly?

    The problem with being a janitor or just another facilities maintenance person is that janitors and maintenance people get treated like shit, despite the fact they are there taking care of things so you don't have to.

    The entire problem being discussed is how people can be treated due to their job.
    Despite the fact there is a whole lot more work going on in IT than is involved with cleaning (no argument on maintenance however) and people in both professions are treated similarly unfairly by others who feel they are 'above' that type of thing.

  • by pentalive ( 449155 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @09:48PM (#30590004) Journal
    Last place I worked we told everyone "Please call the help desk at extension xxxx, I can't help you without a trouble ticket" We justified it to the bosses with the "prioritization" argument.
  • by geminidomino ( 614729 ) * on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @10:13PM (#30590150) Journal

    Management is a title and they can wear whatever they want when they want. Management may or may not have the IT skills but they can still tell non-management what to wear because they do the hiring and firing. Just go with the flow. If they tell you to wear a tie, either have one ready or on.

    If you're willing to take this AC's advice, you might as well. It basically boils down to the same old "Just bend over and take it like a good little serf. You should suck management's dick out of gratitude for even having a job"

    Or, if you're asking out of a sense of self-respect, then maybe you should just ignore him.

  • by wisty ( 1335733 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @11:18PM (#30590504)

    IT staff aren't white collar workers. This is partly because it's a new discipline, and hasn't devolved into blue-collar workers (who do the real work, and don't get paid much) and white collar workers (who suck up all the resources, and organize the blue-collared workers to be more efficient), and "professionals" (who are like blue-collar workers, only their skills are too elusive to devalue) and partly because IT is too hard for management to divide an conquer (so far).

    They say that before the 80s, management used to rise up through the ranks. Business schools used to focus on processes and capital spending (i.e. making better and cheaper widgets) rather than allocative efficiencies. But mega-corporations got so big and bloated that management had to learn how to allocate capital to the least inefficient parts of the organization. Managers became a type of internal financial analyst, whose job was to allocate their capital effectively, and raise more funds from their backers. All the bullshit of the stock-market, without the transparency and accountability that shares have - if the manager made a bum investement they could just talk their way into another portfolio.

    Wait, what was TFA about again?

  • by mr_mischief ( 456295 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @11:32PM (#30590576) Journal

    The first word that popped in my head was "ghettoization". They may be trying to show their disdain for the department and trying to bust some egos. However, they may be trying to actually help. Many IT guys complain about being required to wear nice professional attire then getting it stained, filthy, torn, and scuffed working below floors, above ceiling tiles, under desks, and up against cheap computer cases and racks. Maybe there's a problem with people breaking the dress code right now, and this is a (misguided) attempt to address that. All of these are questions I'd ask before I made a serious judgment about the situation.

  • by glorpy ( 527947 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @11:51PM (#30590684)

    Re-image a dev box in use and you're toast. Programmers' machines get messy and they get messy fast when their job is to test and integrate new technologies and not just act as title inflated code monkeys. And to a certain extent, that mess has to stay there, though it also creates myriad fun problems. Throw in multiple platforms to the mix and food/beverage hardware failures and your dream of remote management is shot to hell.

    If they're all office workers with remote storage, nuke the machines away, by all means. But a programmer's dev box is un-nukeable, except in the case of serious damage, as such action represents significant loss of knowledge, time and infrastructure development.

  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @12:14AM (#30590782)
    Given that I've never met (other than socially) a surgeon who wasn't wearing scrubs, I don't see what your point is.

    I had knee surgery performed by Dr. Frost in Anchorage, AK. I never saw him in scrubs except for the 10 seconds I had where he walked in the room I was already laying down in and said "Ready" and the anestesiologist said "count down from 10" and I said "10, 9, 8 ... zzzz" All other times I ever saw him before and after, and he was never in scrubs.

    If you're one of the sad and deluded individuals who judge a person based on his job, sure.

    Everyone is prejudiced. Everyone makes quick judgments about others based on appearance. To not do so would make live unlivable. Even if it is as innocuous as seeing someone behind the counter and placing your coffee order with them (rather than verifying that they are indeed an employee, despite the fact you saw them helping others before you). You know nothing about them. Have never spoken to them in your life, and pre-judge them to be an employee of Starbucks. That's not wrong, that's life. Judging people is a requirement because our brains are incapable of storing every person ever seen as a unique individual. They are grouped in broad categories until there is some need to re-categorize them.

    Or are you just saying that because you are one of the losers that can't hold down a real job and hates that people look down on him because he is 35, working at McDonalds and living in his mother's basement?
  • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @12:39AM (#30590862) Homepage

    The entire problem being discussed is how people can be treated due to their job.

    Maybe you should TFA and the ensuing discussion, because that's not what's being discussed here.

    Despite the fact there is a whole lot more work going on in IT than is involved with cleaning (no argument on maintenance however) and people in both professions are treated similarly unfairly by others who feel they are 'above' that type of thing.

    From what I've seen, most people in IT believe themselves to be treated unfairly based on an inflated ego.

  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @02:52AM (#30591292)
    That's determining what their job is, not what their social status is or judging them as a person as specified by the OP and myself.

    People treat doctors differently than janitors. You can agree (and say you like or don't like the practice) or you can disagree (in which case you are either a liar or a delusional fool to which I will stop responding). Determining traits, like job, is assigning some value to the person, and is done without meeting them. That you don't like being called prejudiced doesn't affect me. You (and all creatures on the planet) assign traits to other creatures instantly without conscious thought. It's a survival mechanism. I picked job because it was one that was without bias, but we do it with biases as well, race, height, facial features, clothing, posture, etc. are all evaluated subconsciously before we ever meet the person. Those who claim otherwise are the ones I find to be the most bigoted, for they can't even see their own bigotry.
  • by Cederic ( 9623 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @04:16AM (#30591582) Journal

    Interesting. How are you going to reimage computers that are switched off to save energy?

    How are you going to reimage laptops that aren't even in the building?

    How are you going to enable development staff to do their job if you're wiping their hard drive every night?

    Not all business computer users are on a standard desktop.

  • by pHus10n ( 1443071 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @06:06AM (#30591918)
    Does your theory apply to my uniform? I wear the ABU (Airman Battle Uniform) in most environments. I'm also an IT guy.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @06:56AM (#30592056)

    Doctors wear a uniform, are they blue collar? Their uniform is a point of pride, why can't it be used the same way in IT?

  • by Glonoinha ( 587375 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @07:50AM (#30592292) Journal

    It sounds like you aren't working for the Help Desk. I've talked to people from the Help Desk and guess what, they actually are hourly workers with poor benefits that usually get treated like crap. They aren't even considered part of IT, more of a three-level set of gatekeepers that handle scripted issue resolution so the real IT team can focus on the real problems.

    In reading the responses in this thread so far, I wonder if the OP is asking the wrong question.
    Perhaps a better question would have been :

    I've been working in the Help Desk for ${duration} and a recent change by management (instituting a new dress code for help desk workers, but not for the rest of IT) reminded me why I spent four years in a university learning software engineering - to be a software engineer. How do I go about making the transition from the help desk into the development and implementation teams at my company?

    In the past year, I've done the following to make myself more attractive as a software developer / IT sysadmin :
    [ ] Learned the proprietary API developed in-house by our software development team
    [ ] Learned to program in the following languages
    [ ] Configured my own computer at home with the following operating systems (heavily used within our organization)
    [ ] Configured my own server at home with the following packages (heavily used within our organization)
    [ ] Installed the latest version of the following databases on my home server and became familiar with troubleshooting it
    [ ] Got certified with the following Sun / Microsoft / IBM certs :

    If the OP hasn't done any of the above (or anything on par), above and beyond the daily call of ticket fixes from the help desk, and at review time points to his fantastic stats from merely doing his help desk duties - time per ticket, tickets per day, overall 'customer satisfaction' score - then your interpretation of management's 'uniform' suggestion is probably an appropriate reflection of how management actually perceives the Help Desk (hint : at my last company they were referred to as the 'Helpless Desk'.)

  • by TheCarp ( 96830 ) <sjc@carpane[ ]et ['t.n' in gap]> on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @07:51AM (#30592310) Homepage

    I have long felt the world would be a better place if people didn't pay so much heed to people who fly off the handle at the littlest off color joke. Well adjusted people can make fun of themselves and their own situations, and take a good natured ribbing. Those who can't, are right to feel like they should consider what it means to take responsibility for their own shortcomings and seek help if needed; rather than be allowed to dictate policy.

    Then again, I might feel the same way if I didn't have jewish friends who have occasionally cracked jokes about showers, ovens, AND Kosher Lampshades. The last one took me a minute... especially since I don't think long pork is kosher either. Ooh now a cannibalism reference.... where the catholics at? Has the church mannaged to perfect that transubstantiation miracle since I left? Nearly 2000 years of trying and Jesus still tastes more like Styrofoam than BBQ.

  • by FictionPimp ( 712802 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @08:09AM (#30592382) Homepage

    If you don't make sure your treated like a professional, then you won't get paid like a professional.

  • by samspock ( 762514 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @09:56AM (#30593402)
    I worked for a Mortgage company that had five front line IT people including my boss. He suggested that we get navy blue polo shirts for us with the company logo. They were nice ones (should have been dry cleaned but I am cheap) and even he wore one 4 days a week (he was the junior partner in the company.) I did not mind them since it also meant I did not have to figure out what to wear or buy work shirts. Even the sales types wanted them. The only complaint I had about them was that they did not get long sleeve ones for the winter. If it is done right it can work. Suggest that the head of the department get them as well.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:06AM (#30593578)

    Perhaps the help desk is a blue collar position, its certainly entry level.

    Janitorial, fast food, and security guards all need some simple training to do their job, unlike the help desk which needs more extensive training.

    A car mechanic is a blue collar, uniformed position which requires more extensive training.

    And like the help desk, has certifications to prove knowledge, and contains people who may be self taught. They both troubleshoot hardware and software issues. Using mechanical and electronic tools.

    car mechanic = computer mechanic (help desk)

  • Mike (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Redstorm_mpasaa ( 1538001 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:18AM (#30593766)

    Do you want fries with that ;-) Typical, treating IT staff as service workers as offense to those who wear uniforms for their jobs but it's appropriate in some jobs...not in others. Working in corporate and office environments means showing certain kinds of professionalism and making IT staff wear some sort of uniform, in my opinion, detracts from this image. We aren't plumbers or electricians or copier repair guys visiting your sites from outside companies...we are employees too (I count contractors in this pool too especially whe under long term contracts). I agree with some others...make management wear badges that say "President", "CIO", CFO" think that would go over well...why should IT wear a uniform....frankly, IT staff are often the ones who know and speak with everyone in the company and anyone who doesn't live under a rock in their company knows them...that's more than I can say for some employees in places I've worked. There have been employees who literally sit next to each but never speak or even know each other's names...maybe they should wear a uniform letting others know which departments they work in...maybe that would foster more teamwork from average employees...leave IT staff alone...we've got enough fires and issues to deal with...Peace and happy New Year to all...

  • I wore a uniform (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ccc31807 ( 973696 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @10:39AM (#30594148)
    I wore a uniform for two years, consisting of a white shirt with the company logo and khaki trousers, and thought it was a good idea. My department was held in high regard as a result of the services it performed, and I gained instant credibility as a result of my visual identification with the department. Wasn't a help desk, but as an instructor in a technical college. Still, if the department is respected, the members will be as well.
  • Hockey Jersey's (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DarthVain ( 724186 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @11:32AM (#30595120)

    As many have mentioned, it depends on the uniform.

    If it was something like a golf shirt with a small monogrammed IT logo, it wouldn't bother me, as that's pretty much what I wear to work anyway (and pants).

    If it was something really distinctive and cool, like custom Hockey Jersey's with teams names and logos, and my name on the back with a number, I think that would also be fun!

    If however it was something I felt was lame or stupid, when then I guess I wouldn't like it very much.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @11:52AM (#30595574)

    You have to understand management to understand the genesis of the uniforms idea. See, some pointy hair was buying a computer for his nephew and asked for help from the nearest Geek Squad drone and was impressed by the professionalism of the help. (Your nephew probably likes games so buy the more expensive one, dude).

    The comments about team unity and visibility and all that other stuff are mere rationalizations. The real reason is because the PHB liked that he could find the computer geek when he wanted one And face it, PHBs need to ask computer geeks questions like, "How do I log on?" and "How do I open the cup holder?" a lot.

  • by josepha48 ( 13953 ) on Wednesday December 30, 2009 @12:13PM (#30595986) Journal
    and person. If it is a short sleeve shirt and you get cold in the office can you wear a sweater or jacket? If it is a long sleeve shirt can yo roll up you're sleeves? Who would clean these uniforms and how many of them would you have?

    I can see doing this so people know who the IT guys are, but I think badges would be better. Tell them you want cotten cause you are allergic to polyester :))

    Welcome to Kmart, how may I help you ;)

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