Move over mufti, we're dressed to code

Software engineers are abandoning baseball caps and bean bags in the workplace claiming Australian IT professionals are being forced to "grow up" in the post dotcom era.

Legacies of the new economy boom, like technical jargon, casual dress and flexiworking, have faded in the wake of the companies that spawned them, according to Paul Rush, IT commerce director of recruitment agency Robert Walters.

The dotcom crash, he said, has resulted in a backlash against the workplace trends the new economy companies introduced.

"The minute these organisations faced economic difficulties, managers went back to the familiar, old economy ways," Rush said.

"Baseball caps in the workplace, designer office furniture, flexible work hours, telecommuting, along with the abundance of technical jargon, are not nearly as prevalent today as they were at the height of the dotcom boom."

An applications architect for a government department, who requested anonymity, agrees with Rush's claims, citing the workplace influences from the dotcom era as "a bit 80s". But this applications architect, who wears business attire to work, said he was not caught up in the baseball caps and beanbag scene.

"I've always worked in a corporate service environment and needed to be taken seriously," he said.

Accordingly, an IT manager from a national payment services company who also requested anonymity told Computerworld that the workplace influences experienced in the dotcom era were very much a part of "company culture" in some organisations.

"The businesses with those cultures, which have survived, maintain their relaxed and casual outlook," he said.

The IT manager -- who was wearing jeans, a yellow, collared short and black suit jacket with plans to wear his favourite fluffy red pants the following day -- said casual dress can help get the best out of staff.

"Pre-sales guys in customer-facing roles may well need to be in a suit every day and could be disgruntled that the development guys get to rock up in shorts and singlets and spend half their day in nerf gun wars," said the IT manager who walks around his office without wearing shoes because of his aversion to footwear.

Paul Rush said a decrease in the use of jargon was particularly symptomatic of the changing role of today's IT professional in the post-dotcom era.

"These days, it's not technical gurus with a plethora of acronyms that will get the job," he said.

"I think the changing use of jargon is symptomatic of the IT sector of the community realising that they need to be able to communicate with the rest of us in order to survive. They aren't able to live within their own little worlds any more. Everyone is pretty much forced to deal with IT people and IT people need to be able to explain how things works to users."

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