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HP slaps dress code on R&D geeks: Bin that T-shirt, put on this tie

Grumbling from techies as rules enforced to keep customers happy – source

Exclusive Troubled HP has hit upon what it thinks is a terrific idea to revive its fortunes: tell techies to leave their T-shirts and shorts at home and obey the corporate "smart casual" dress code instead.

Some R&D teams within HP Enterprise Services were sent a confidential memo this week reminding them to follow the IT giant's rules against workplace fashion faux pas, The Register has learned.

"If you aren't dressed like the models in the posters that HP displays around its locations, then your appearance is sapping the productivity of the workers around you," one source, who asked to remain anonymous, quipped.

The dress code memo was sent out because higher-ups believe customers visiting HP's offices will be put off by scruffy-looking R&D engineers, we're told.

The order to tuck in shirts and smarten up for guests has not gone down well, apparently: some HP developers, who do not deal with customers directly, were quite enjoying wearing T-shirts and shorts at work during these warm summer months.

According to HP, men should avoid turning up to the office in T-shirts with no collars, faded or torn jeans, shorts, baseball caps and other headwear, sportswear, and sandals and other open shoes. Women are advised not to wear short skirts, faded or torn jeans, low-cut dresses, sandals, crazy high heels, and too much jewelry.

The Enterprise Services division employs more than 100,000 people across the world, from the UK and Australia to India and Germany, as well as cities in the US.

"There are customers around, and HP doesn’t want them to think riffraff work here," one source told El Reg.

"So HP is asking its R&D engineers to dress smartly. Apparently dressing well improves the holistic ambiance of a brain struggling with esoteric things like coding. That in turn improves the quality of the software products that it delivers. HP knows this, and HP knows that its customers know this. So, now HP’s R&D organizations know this as well."

Amid all this, HP is getting ready to split in two: the enterprise chunk of the business will separate from the part that builds PCs and printers. Its staffers are facing all sorts of changes: if not an enforcement of a dress code, then it's getting used to a new logo. A thrilling green rectangle of a logo.

We asked HP for comment, and a spokesman said he'd get back to us on that. If you have any thoughts on dress codes for developers, sysadmins, techies, and such folks, why not post your own comment in the article forum. ®

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