A chill has crept into the air and green leaves have given way to red, yellow, and orange, marking the approach of Halloween and the annual agonizing over which costume to wear to the office.

What began as an ancient Celtic ritual of dressing up in costume and lighting bonfires to ward off roaming spirits is today one of the most popular holidays in the country, with holiday spending – almost a billion dollars a year – second only to Christmas, according to the Retail Council of Canada. That’s a lot of candy corn, superhero, and sexy [insert pretty much any noun here] costumes, pumpkins, and rubber spiders.

Given its popularity, odds are good your office will be celebrating Halloween, and the prospect of dressing up in a costume for work either has you salivating with anticipation or, as is appropriate for the holiday, cowering in fear. Dressing up is always optional, but if you do, you need to ensure that your office costume is memorable for the right reasons.

Image Credit ReBloggy

You deserve some fun at work…

Let’s face it. Dressing up and pretending to be someone else, if only for a short while, is fun. We all get to be children again and indulge in some wish fulfillment. Want to be Amelia Earhart, the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic? Soar on. Want to don a tattered tank top as John McClane and save Nakatomi Plaza from a gang of exceptional German thieves? Welcome to the party, pal.

Yes, dressing up is fun and in an office environment that can be a source of stress and tension, fun is most certainly welcome. Taking part in a group activity can help improve morale and crucially, break down barriers. It can help you get to know coworkers from different departments and teams, and build camaraderie with your colleagues. It’s a chance, after all, to express your creativity and personality, and to show your coworkers a side of you they may not have seen before.

Positive workplace relationships are crucial to our workplace happiness and getting to know a co-worker will help you to communicate and work better together. Research from Harvard University found that employees with good working relationships with colleagues are 10 times as likely to be engaged at work, and most tellingly, 40 per cent more likely to be promoted. People who are happy at work are also likely to be more productive, creative, and successful.

Image Credit: ReBloggy

… but remember it’s still work

As you go about choosing your costume, it’s critical to dress for the environment. A costume should be workplace appropriate and still allow you to be a productive and beneficial employee.

While you might be tempted to dress up as Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton this year, it’s probably not the best idea in a workplace. Your goal isn’t to offend or shock, and with that in mind, it’s best to steer clear of any costumes related to politicians, religious figures, dead celebrities, hate groups, your coworkers, and your boss. Most importantly, and it bears repeating (thank you, Julianne Hough), racist costumes or those that appropriate another culture or ethnicity should be avoided entirely.

Additionally, while some costumes are perfectly appropriate for the bar, they might not be for the workplace. Keep this in mind when choosing an outfit: if you had to attend a last-minute meeting with a potential client and your manager, would you and the client be comfortable with what you’re wearing?

It’s crucial to understand how the costume you wear can affect how not just your coworkers, but also management perceives you, which, in turn, can affect promotions and raises. You definitely don’t want to be remembered for dressing in blackface or showing a little too much skin under that toga when your performance review comes up.

Plan ahead, stay professional

With all the tricks and treats taking place in an office during Halloween, it can be easy to lose focus on your work but you have to strive to ensure that you’re still productive despite all the distractions. You should make every effort to maintain your professional reputation.

Before you decide on whether or not you’re going to wear a costume, check your calendar. Do you have anything pressing that day? A big meeting? A presentation? Are you going to have to leave the office at any point for an obligation? Were you planning on asking for a raise? If so, you’ll want to opt for a simple costume instead (maybe an always hilarious pair of Grouch Marx glasses that can be easily removed?), because it might be a challenge to have a productive work conversation dressed as Hodor, Rey, or a Pokémon.

It’s also beneficial to think about your work environment and whether or not your costume could pose a safety risk or impede your ability to perform. Does your Stormtrooper mask make it difficult for you to hear or to speak? Will that Harley Quinn makeup get all over your phone, keyboard, and any other surface you’re going to come in contact with? Is there potential for your Batman cape to get snagged in machinery? If you answered yes to any of those questions, then your costume probably isn’t well suited for the office.

Photo Credit

One last thing…

For those who love to wear costumes, remember not everyone is comfortable with the idea of dressing up.  Some people just don’t like to do it. So please, if some of your co-workers show up without a costume, don’t give them a hard time, unless your goal is to negatively impact your relationship with them. No one should be given a hard time because he or she is choosing not to take part.

Celebrating Halloween at work is one effective way to connect with coworkers and foster a creative, productive, and team-oriented work culture. But while it can be beneficial to both the office and the employee, any office Halloween celebration should be enjoyed with the understanding that work and professionalism must still be the first priority.

*All photos sourced from: ReBloggy


See also:

Alcohol really does hit you harder at the work party
Surviving the office holiday party
Office holiday party: Not the place to say, ‘I love you’


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