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There's no dress code at Richard Branson's company—and it could boost productivity

Sir Richard Branson
Sir Richard Branson

Richard Branson has always done things differently. The billionaire entrepreneur dropped out of school as a teen to start his own business, prefers to work from his hammock or bathtub rather than a desk and drinks 20 cups of tea a day.

He's also eliminated any notion of a dress code at Virgin Group, which he established in 1970 by launching a record business that would become Virgin Records.

The formalities, Branson says, are overrated.

"If people got rid of unnecessary hierarchies and formalities, they would have a lot more fun and get a lot more done," he writes on his blog. "At Virgin Management, our receptionist is Rhubi, our CEO is Josh and I'm Richard. There are no tucked away offices, just shared working spaces. And everyone is encouraged to wear what they think will help them to work most productively — you won't find a tie in sight."

Branson believes in creating a flexible work environment. "I think work should be fun. It should be enjoyable. It should be satisfying," he says in a video he posted on a separate blog.

"Too many companies don't realize the monotony of a lot of people's day-to-day life at work. … I try to encourage chief executives worldwide to make sure that there's as much flexibility in the workplace as possible."

There's something to be said about creating a comfortable work environment. In a 2017 FlexJobs survey which asked millennials what they want most in the workplace, 71 percent of respondents said work flexibility is key.

In fact, many young workers said they value workplace flexibility more than health insurance.

The lack of formalities and emphasis on flexibility have worked for Branson: Since founding Virgin Group in 1970, it has grown to encompass eight billion-dollar companies in eight different sectors.

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