Business attire, casual, or possibly smart casual after all? – Dress code policy at Roche in Germany

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Our employees are demonstrating…

Fashion magazines and advice columns fall over themselves when it comes to questions about how to dress appropriately for work. Yellow is the perfect colour for a job interview, we are told. What we are not told, however, is why. Red is to be avoided at all costs: red is a colour that provokes strong emotions. That – at least – is a little easier to understand. When it comes to style, it would appear that nowadays anything goes, from casual to creative casual and smart casual, not forgetting business casual. Unlike days gone by, when men wore an obligatory suit and tie and women were confined to prim suits, today it would appear that anything from dark jeans to chino trousers, t-shirts and jumpers is perfectly acceptable. 

So what is expected of Roche in Grenzach, Mannheim, Penzberg and Waiblingen when we talk about business casual?

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…that casual is indeed chic!

Today the overall perception of the term „Business Casual“ is to simply „dress appropriately“. No matter where you are on the spectrum of work, you as an employee are still a representation of Roche. It is a given that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to what is appropriate in the workplace, as the working culture and priorities vary.

Let’s take a look at the dress code of some of the main areas of work at the Roche sites:

Office work (HR, Finance, Procurement, Global mobility etc.)

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The dress code for working in an office, whether you are a part of HR, finance or global mobility presents the diversity and vast outlook on what is deemed as ‘appropriate’ in the workplace. If you are spending your day at your desk, dress comfortably. Jeans are easily paired with a blouse, shirt or jumper, however, make sure that there are no rips or holes. If you have an important meeting in the afternoon why not throw on a blazer to make your outfit look a little bit more ‘smart’. This is a good balance between being a representative for Roche and working in a working environment that is relaxed and comfortable.

If your day consists of meeting from 8am – 5pm then the best option for you might be to dress more on the business side rather than the casual. This can also be dependent on whether you belong to a management team and who you are conducting the meetings with. The flexibility of ‘business casual’ is still in your hands, however, it is a good idea to ask yourself how would others like to be represented by you?


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Looking into the logistics department at Mannheim, department managers have commented that Roche has relaxed the dress code during the last couple of years. Here employees are not in personal contact with customers and the day consists of internal meetings meaning that employees have the possibility to wear t-shirts and jeans. However, if the day consists of an official meeting or presentation it is always important to consider who you are representing. May swap your t-shirt for a shirt or blouse.

Logistics also consists of employees in the warehouse who are provided with a relaxed uniform, as presented in the photo.


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The chairman of Roche Pharma AG in Grenzach, Dr. Hagen Pfundner, demonstrates that it is – according to the order "dress appropriately" – absolutely legitimate to roll up the sleeves.

Looking at the pharmaceutical sector, it becomes clear that the dress code between the different departments is quite similar. In Grenzach, people roll up their sleeves –quite literally. Where in former times ties were a must, today casual is quite chic.  “Dress appropriately” is the order of the day. If you are going to spend the day at your desk, dress for comfort. Jumpers and jeans are fine, as long as there are no rips or holes: we’re not slaves to every trend, after all.  Where ties used to be mandatory in the past, casual is now quite chic. "Appropriate to the occasion" is the motto. If an important meeting is scheduled, the suit is freshly ironed. This approach to dress style is one which has been adopted by and is very visible on the management team: on stage in perfect business attire, afterwards more relaxed. One of the most important things to keep in mind not to dress too casually or chicly.

Production and Laboratory

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If you are working in production or in a lab dress code is not only important to represent yourself but is also important for your safety and protection. Although you will be provided with a lab coat and extra protection such as gloves or goggles, it is still important to be aware of extra dangers.

The basic requirements from employees is to avoid wearing shorts or skirts if possible and always wear closed shoes. Make sure your hair is tied back and refrain from wearing any loose clothing or dangling jewellery.

Gloves used inside production or labs should not be used when exciting the laboratory. When handing chemicals, it is requested not to wear contact lenses as it can be a risk to your health and safety.

Extremes are best avoided in job interviews

When it comes to the perfect outfit for a job interview, applicants are well advised to avoid extremes at either end of the dress spectrum. So no jeans or hoddies (too sloppy), and perhaps – for you personally – a tie would be too constricting.

Some tried-and-tested advice: it’s not about dressing up or disguising yourself, it’s about dressing appropriately for the situation at hand. Be true to yourself – be authentic!

Tags: Career Blog, Germany