Workers told to leave suits at home

By Wang Zhenghua (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-07-24 06:49

SHANGHAI: Casual Friday, a popular business custom in countries around the world, has made its way to Shanghai.

Tens of thousands of office workers in Lujiazui, the key financial district in the Pudong New Area, will shed their formal attire this Friday in favor of casual clothes. Jeans, T-shirts and sneakers could become the order of the day.

The change in style comes in response to an appeal by the Lujiazui buildings association, which is part of the Lujiazui Finance & Trade Zone Development Co, the area's main developer. The association hopes the casual Friday concept takes root in central Lujiazui, which is home to thousands of domestic and overseas banks, insurance companies and securities firms.

Association officials said wearing casual clothes would help reduce the need for air conditioning, which would help save energy.

"It has been difficult to get the companies in these buildings to accept the idea, even just for the coming Friday," said Huang Xinnong, secretary-general of Lujiazui buildings association.

"Many of these companies have stringent dress codes or use uniforms, and some are known for being conservative," he added.

Still, the association managed to persuade companies in 31 buildings, including Jinmao Tower, the country's tallest, to participate. They also urged these buildings to increase their interior temperatures to 26 C or higher.

"Male white-collar workers are encouraged to shed their suits and long-sleeve shirts in favor of cooler clothes, and women could wear casual dresses," Huang said.

Several companies have responded warmly to the idea and to the concept of energy conservation in general.

"We welcome the idea, though we won't have our employees dress up as if they are in Hawaii," said a corporate communication manager surnamed Zhang with Standard Chartered Bank (China) Limited.

"Our employees are deeply aware of the importance of conserving energy. For instance, we always make sure the printers and copiers are unplugged when we leave the office," she said.

Casual Friday began in the United States during the late 1950s. It was originally intended to raise morale in the new white-collar office environment.

(China Daily 07/24/2007 page5)

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