Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
What's the first thing you notice when you walk into Starbucks?
The faces of customers and staff, perhaps.
Or the length of the line.
Perhaps, if you're in a good mood, you might even notice the smile or the name tag attached to a barista.
Now, I have a question for you.
Describe the Starbucks uniform.
A green apron, I hear you say? And, well, vaguely dark clothing.
For example, when was the last time you were served by a Starbucks barista with a tongue stud?
I'm drifting down these lines because it's just emerged that the coffee chain has listened to its partners -- the fancy term for employees -- and squished its 15-page dress code.
Oh, you didn't know there was a dress code? There were pages and pages of it.
Please let me tell you that bright plaids were verboten. So were reds and yellows.
Fedoras, however, were just fine. Berets were just too French. (No, the code didn't say the French part. It did say they were banned.)
This code became active in 2016. In those days, Starbucks trumpeted that customers instantly noted how baristas were suddenly styling.
One can be sure they'll notice now.
Fast-forward to 2019 and Starbucks has realized that this was all too picky.
Why bother specifying the precise types and styles of shoes employees can wear when you can just say any waterproof shoe that covers your foot and is within the color palette?
In a statement to Business Insider, the coffee chain confessed:
We believe the Starbucks Experience is best delivered when partners can bring their whole selves to work. Based on partner feedback, we have simplified our resources and approach to dress code to provide more clarity and make it easier for partners to select their wardrobe for work.
Now, the 15 pages have become just one.
Perhaps the biggest victory -- at least as far as baristas are concerned -- is the relaxation on piercings.
In uglier times, only teeny nose studs were permissible.
Now baristas can show off their finely pierced septums and the glorious golden rings that adorn them.
Overnight, you might suddenly discover that nice Adam with the purple hair spends his waking days with a matching purple ring through his nose. Engraved with the words "Eve Bought This."
The words Starbucks used to characterize the change are instructive. The company wants employees to "bring their whole selves to work."
As if previously they had been leaving parts of themselves at home.
The congenitally cynical may have a couple of thoughts.
In times of relatively full employment, it's rarely worth sticking to rules that, to some, may seem entirely arbitrary.
Moreover, as more people order on their apps, storm in, grab their drinks, and go without so much as a "How do you do?" perhaps uniforms just aren't that important anymore.
I should say, though, for the pierced desperate to work at Starbucks, that they should bring spare change to work.
It's true, you see, that employees may now wear one facial piercing -- yes, no doubles allowed -- but those piercings can't be larger than a dime.
So if you see baristas holding a coin against their faces, please have sympathy.
This is the next step in their long walk to freedom.