There’s no question that working from home is something of a dream for many. You get to set your own hours, your own workload and the ways in which you work. Your home is comfortable, you get to eat all of the food groups you like and take three-hour lunches. Best of all you can roll out of bed when you like and make money in your pajamas.
It all sounds great, but actually, the above is not necessarily true. As anyone who has actually worked from home for any substantial length of time knows, the biggest challenge home workers face is the never-ending attempt to maintain productivity. You don’t always get to set your own hours, your comfortable home is not an office and, most of all, working in your pajamas is likely to damage your productivity and your confidence.
With this last point in mind, it is worth considering a few reasons why you should dress for work, even if you work from home. Ultimately, you’ll soon see that how we dress influences everything in how we work at home.
The fine line between work and life
One of the reasons many choose to work from home is irritation of sometimes working after hours at a traditional workplace. We want to be at home amongst our family, friends or simply away from the stress of a workplace. But that line between work and life can follow you home as well, especially if you don’t find a way to delineate between the two.
“Working in your pajamas may seem like fun for a couple of days, but you’ll soon find any productivity wanes,” writes Joshua Duvall, an author at Researchpapersuk and Last Minute Writing, “Our bodies appreciate the comfyness of our bed wear, and consciously or unconsciously, our minds react to this comfortability by shutting down the practical parts of our brains.”
Without actually dressing up for work, you no longer have these moments to condition your brain into understanding when work ends and home life begins.
A boundary for ourselves
Beyond our ability to switch off once we are changed into our relaxing clothes, changing into work clothes for our home office promotes and maintains a professional attitude. We cannot forget that when we work from home, we are still at work. This may mean that we have to engage with our clients, line managers or colleagues.
We have to recognize that in order to approach our work professionally, we have to maintain a professional attitude. There’s an argument that our clothes make more of a difference in this respect than anything else.
In dressing professionally we allow ourselves control over our attitude.
In addition, we signal to others, be it family, friends or even the postman, that we are at work, and our interactions will retain a professional air.
Most importantly, this professional attitude forces us into a mode of productivity. This is the most important reason for dressing appropriately for work. It is nice to be comfortable, but as we’ve seen, comfortability doesn’t necessarily mean productivity. Productivity is the lifeblood of maintaining a work-from-home lifestyle.
In dressing for work, we are affirming to ourselves a commitment to actually do the work.
Our clothes work as a visual reminder to ourselves of our intentions to get things done. For homeworkers, anything that helps us to overcome low productivity is a blessing.
A boundary for others
Not all of us have the opportunity to work from home without interruption. Many turn to working from home for a variety of commitments, such as child-care, health issues or even difficult commutes. This means that we have to utilize every weapon in our arsenal to keep interruption to a minimum.
For parents, it is especially important that our kids know we are ‘out-of-bounds’. Kids, especially young ones don’t necessarily understand boundaries without a visual clue. Much like the boundaries we set ourselves when dressing for work, a suit, a shirt, or even just smart casual wear sets a visual distinction between us ‘at home’ and us ‘at work’.
If we don’t have kids, there is a likelihood that there are others we need to remind about our work-life at home. These may be parents, friends, housemates, or even sales callers. All should respond to our work clothes with the respect we deserve.
Feeling fresh and clean
Aside from the psychological usefulness of wearing professional clothes to our home office, there is a further psychological benefit. One of the great difficulties of working from home is that, actually, it can lead to mental health issues.
It is often a lonely, solitary existence which can result in a disconnectedness from society at large. We interact with our computers and only text when it comes to interacting with people. If we aren’t careful we can deteriorate into bad hygiene and a lack of confidence which can lead to bad work. We should, therefore, understand that wearing professional clothes are instrumental in keeping us grounded in reality.
“If we aren’t dressed to face the world, there’s little chance that we can actually face the reality of work,” says Veronica Dodson, a regular contributor to Draftbeyond and Writinity, “Dress appropriately to go out or dress appropriately to visit friends or receive visitors and you limit the potential for self-destructive behavior in working from home.”
The above reasons are not an exhaustive list of reasons why you should remain professionally dressed when working from home. However, this article has shown some of the fundamentals of why it is important on a psychological level. We should always remember that working from home is working, regardless of how phony it may feel at times.
Ultimately, though, how we dress is an important psychological factor in maintaining confidence and good mental health. We may feel at times that stress levels are much higher for office workers. But working from home, too, has its stresses and difficulties, and dressing well helps to guard us against them.