Will Masks Become a Universal Workwear Accessory?

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The world is changing before our very eyes. Thanks to coronavirus, the vast majority of us see the world through very different eyes. Everything from grocery shopping to spending time with family is now carefully weighed against the risk of infection. As people begin returning to work, the question of face masks is now being asked.

Will masks become a universal workwear accessory? Will government officials attempt to mandate mask wearing in public places? We are only beginning to investigate the feasibility and efficacy of mass adoption. We should better understand where it will all lead a few weeks from now.

 

  • Face Masks for Wall Street

 

Reuters breached the subject of mandatory masks in an article published in late April 2020. The focus of their piece was Wall Street and the worldwide banking sector. Authors Scott Murdoch, Maya Nikolaeva, and Matt Scuffham discussed efforts being made around the world to promote safety in the office.

The article cited an official from Germany’s Deutsche Bank who indicated that masks would be a standard workwear accessory for returning employees. He explained that the bank will implement mask policies in a way that makes “employees feel comfortable”, though he didn’t elaborate on exactly what that means.

Financial sector employees in Hong Kong have already started returning to work. They are routinely greeted by temperature checks as they enter their workplaces. They are wearing masks as well. Both measures have been implemented alongside additional measures intended to keep people separated as much as possible.

 

  • Customized Face Masks Coming

 

Let us just assume, for the purposes of this post, that the mask does become a universal workwear accessory moving forward. We might expect to see 50-70% of workers – or more in some cases – wearing masks during their shifts. Will they all be standard white masks?

Branding is a big part of designing company uniforms, according to nationwide uniform rental provider Also. It stands to reason that some companies would start looking at customized masks that play into existing branding.

Perhaps some companies will order masks colored to match the rest of the company uniform. Others might go beyond simple color palettes to include company logos or other appropriate graphics. Imagine theme parks and entertainment venues with costumed workers designing their masks to integrate more seamlessly with whatever clothing workers are wearing.

 

  • A Safety Issue

 

Proponents of the face masks say that wearing them in public is a safety issue. It turns out that safety is a big priority for workwear in many environments. In an industrial environment for instance, regular street clothes may not offer enough protection. Thus, workers are dressed in heavy-duty workwear uniforms suitable to task.

The safety issue is a legitimate one. But here is the problem with safety and face masks: the opinions among experts vary significantly. Moreover, some well-respected public health organizations have changed their minds on masks multiple times in recent weeks.

The one thing that could prevent the face mask from becoming a universal workwear accessory is lack of agreement over their effectiveness. A lack of consensus could lead to fewer masks in the workplace. On the other hand, a majority of health experts agreeing that masks are effective in keeping people safe would likely mean more employers requiring their workers to wear them.

The point of this post is not to advocate one way or the other. It is simply to raise the question of whether or not face masks will become a universal workwear accessory. Time will tell. And with the world now starting to reopen, we should know sooner rather than later.

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