Are Backpacks Uncool in the Workplace?

While a backpack might feel comfortable, it clashes with your professional image.

While a backpack might feel comfortable, it clashes with your professional image.

What's "cool" or "uncool" in a workplace depends on your point of view or your industry. But, certain practices and habits that may be cool as a student or a young person don't carry over into the workplace. Arguing with the boss, for example, doesn't reward you the same kind of fame that arguing with the professor might. Likewise, showing up to work in pajama pants isn't quite as PC as showing up to work in the morning with your slippers on. But what about backpacks?

Say No in Corporate Environments

If you work in a corporate environment, dress the part. Ditch the backpack and use a high quality briefcase or professional bag instead. Not only are backpacks uncool in corporate settings, but they also give off the impression that you are a less serious worker who isn't quite ready for the business world.

Feel Out Your Creative Environment

If you work in a creative industry like marketing, publishing, or PR, feel out your office environment to decide whether a backpack would be cool. Odds are, if no one else carries their work on their backs, then you should steer clear as well. Likewise, sometimes it "seems" cool to dress down or wear signifiers of youth and hipness at work. But these features can have the opposite affect, and coworkers might view you as sloppy or not serious about your job. Use your best judgment if your industry allows for creative and non-traditional dress.

Teachers: Set Yourself Apart

If you work in an educational field, you may feel tempted to wear a backpack so that students regard you as cool. This is common in higher education. However, it isn't the students who need to think you're cool: It's your colleagues. If you really want to move up in your job and create a successful career, you should set yourself apart from your students and become a figure they look up to, not a buddy they might meet at a bar.

Find an Alternative

According to the style mavens at "Style Girlfriend," there's really no excuse for carrying a backpack with a professional outfit such as a suit. If the complaint is that you have too much stuff to carry, you can use your car or avoid carrying every single item everywhere you go. You can also find professional alternatives such as leather laptop bags or canvas duffels. Another option is to divide your daily loot into two bags, such as a gym bag and a work bag. This way, you're not hauling everything you own on your back like a camel, a sign of disorganization. While you might get away with it in a laid back, creative field, it's best to retire the backpack after graduation and move on to a more professional method of carrying your goods.

 

About the Author

Jan Archer holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a master's degree in creative writing. Roth has written trade books for Books-a-Million and has published articles on green living, wellness and education topics. She taught business writing, literature, creative writing and English composition at the college level for five years.

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