The Difference Between Formal & Informal Workplaces

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The age of the Internet startup bought awareness to changes in the modern workplace. The formal workplace is defined by professional attire and adherence to the structured workday. Companies such as Google and Microsoft, however, have adopted a less-restrictive workplace culture where business dress and formality are replaced by casual Fridays and the option of bringing a pet to work.

The age of the Internet startup bought awareness to changes in the modern workplace. The formal workplace is defined by professional attire and adherence to the structured workday. Companies such as Google and Microsoft, however, have adopted a less-restrictive workplace culture where business dress and formality are replaced by casual Fridays and the option of bringing a pet to work.

Dress

Formal workplaces often have dress codes in place. The dress code can vary from business casual (dress pants and collared shirt) to formal business attire only. Informal workplaces also have dress restrictions, such as no offensive or sexually suggestive clothing, but the policies are far more liberal. In fact, Google's official dress code is "must wear clothes."

Health and Stimulation

In an informal work setting, such as an Internet startup, employees often have perks such as pinball and video game machines. Progressive Insurance provides employees with on-site health clinics and exercise facilities. A formal workplace employer may offer these perks, but those extras are often provided by third parties and are off-site.

Work Space

Formal work spaces are known for cubicles and corner offices while informal work spaces sometimes have fewer designated offices and open floor plans. Features of informal work spaces are giant ergonomic balls instead of traditional desk chairs and long common tables instead of individual desks.

Management Structure

Many formal workplaces have a very structured organizational chart and encourage adherence to chain of command. International Business Machines utilizes the traditional organizational structure. 37signals, a Chicago, Illinois, software company, is an example of an corporation that has done away with organizational charts and uses a flat model where titles and rank are less important and ideas and creativity are encouraged.

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About the Author

Gary Wright is a working attorney in the Cleveland Ohio area. He has written on a professional freelance basis since 2005 and has a passion for public records. Wright is a graduate of Cleveland State University and the Marshall College of Law.

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