How do you feel about professional staff who turn up to the office ornamented and adorned with bodily decorations?
Not too long ago, the idea that anyone would appear at an accountant’s office with even half a dozen ear studs or one in the nose was impossible to contemplate. The only breach of this rule might come in the form of occasional rock star client.
The next stage along the route might have been a daring secretary or other member of support staff, who would indeed have an ear so full of metal that it would never get through customs, possibly supplemented by a tasteful jewel pinned into the left nostril.
However, the last few years have changed public perception beyond belief. Now, there is every prospect that fuddy-duddy accountants would be grateful for nothing more prominent than the jewellery described above, even on senior members of professional staff.
Indeed, a former partner of the writer, who favoured very thin shirts that must either have been extremely expensive or very cheap, appear to have the emblem of his favourite football club tattooed on an upper arm. This was clearly visible and might not have been a problem while drumming up trade amongst those that passionately supported an assortment of other premiership clubs and, by default, hated his team.
The conundrum of what is acceptable office clothing has been with us for decades but these new developments will present a real headache to those who believe that clients might head for the hills when confronted by an audit senior with a bar through their eyebrow or a tasteful facial tattoo.
The difficulty is that even if recruits are conservative-looking at the time of recruitment, it is probably impossible to shift employees who subsequently go native.
It can only be a matter of time before you face the serious dilemma concerning the presentability of a colleague, either because they have metalwork in the wrong places, tattoos across their faces or possibly the ubiquitous “love” and “hate” plastered over their knuckles.
While this columnist is not yet aware of any colleagues who have gone to these lengths, tongue studs are becoming popular while a recent departure took with him a tattoo on the inside of his lower lip, apparently a style becoming de rigueur with the footballing community, judging by a quick, frankly stomach-churning, Google search.
One possible solution would be to encourage such behaviour by offering free tattooing on the forehead provided that this represented nothing more sinister than your firm’s name and logo.
While employees of BDO might regard that as a bit of fun, those who worked for my old firm Chantrey Vellacott DFK (RIP) would have been obliged to endure a considerable amount of pain in order to look stylish and support the brand.
There seems little doubt that anyone reading this column 10 years hence will laugh, since by then the partners without prominent tattoos and bodies like sieves will probably be few and far between.