Working from home (WFH) has become the new normal for many of us in recent weeks.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, people have been settling into self-isolation and, with that, establishing a working from home routine.
The idea of spending our days working from the couch in our pyjamas can seem tempting, but when we consider the prospect of working from home for at least the next couple of months, that approach could have a negative impact on our productivity and mental health.
Here’s why getting dressed when working from home is more important than you think:
Getting dressed has a positive influence
Before she started her business, Harrison worked full-time in a corporate role and was mostly in dresses and heels, so making the switch to working from home required a shift in perception, attitude and behaviour.
“It’s very easy to get caught in the work-from-bed vortex when you first wake up, reach for your phone and start firing off emails. Before you know it, it’s 11 am, and you haven’t left your bed. Failing to get out of bed and adequately preparing yourself for the day ahead can leave you feeling just as dishevelled as you look,” Harrison said.
“Whether you work for yourself or you’re working remotely for a company, your energy, motivation and performance are intrinsically linked to how you feel mentally and physically. The best way to positively influence that is with a healthy routine that involves getting up, getting active and getting ready. Frock up and rock up.”
Clothing can make you feel good (or bad)
Fashion stylist Sally Mackinnon, of Styled by Sally, said maintaining a daily routine of getting up, having a shower, and putting on a comfortable outfit is key when working from home.
“When you feel like you’ve made the effort to get dressed and put on something you feel good in, then you’ll be more likely to approach your day with confidence and with purpose,” she said.
As our routines have changed instantly with going into self-isolation, Mackinnon said making the effort to get dressed each day was important.
“Part of that [new routine] will be putting something on that I feel good in every single day, and I think that will help us get through it. People underestimate the power of clothing and how it can make you feel – good or bad. So, I would absolutely be encouraging people to make the effort,” Mackinnon said.
Mackinnon also said wearing a bright coloured top or your favourite piece of jewellery could be a small thing to make your day feel a bit happier.
Get dressed to signal a shift in your day
“What you wear can change your attitude towards how you work,” said personal stylist Jude Stevens of Styling by Lumiere.
Stevens is a big believer of getting dressed for the day, especially when you’re working from home, at it sets you up for being more productive.
“Getting dressed helps you feel more productive because it signals to you that you’re in work mode,” she said.
While it’s important to dress for work, Stevens said it’s equally important to change out of your work clothes and into something more casual at the end of the day.
“Especially if you’re working from home and you’re not leaving the house, I think you need to have that differentiation between being in work mode and having leisure time,” Stevens said.
Get dressed into your work outfit, then when your day is done change into your tracksuit or pyjamas. It’s important to have that break and change in outfit. Your environment is not changing as much at the moment so it’s important to change your outfits to signal that shift in your day.”
What to wear when working from home
So, you’ve heard about all the reasons why it’s important to get dressed properly when working from home, but what should you wear?
Overall, loose-fitting garments in soft fabrics are the way to go. You want to be comfortable, but you also want to present professionally.
Here are some tips on the types of clothing to wear when working from home:
Make it fun but stylish
Harrison said the key to a good work-from-home wardrobe is wearing something that makes you feel equal parts comfortable, productive and good about yourself.
“In warmer weather, my go-to numbers are typically cotton pieces that are fun but stylish which can be mixed and matched, like a jumpsuit over a tube top or t-shirt (choose a design that won’t make you hate visiting the bathroom), or wide-leg stripe pants that can be paired with a singlet or a smart top for important video calls,” she said.
“Winter is jeans and an oversized but flattering cardigan, ideally with a long-sleeve top or high neck. If you really want to get in the work zone, reach for a soft and comfortable blazer or a long, sleeveless vest.”
Choose the clothing you’d actually leave the house in
When it comes to working-from-home wear Mackinnon recommends choosing clothing that you would actually leave the house in.
“You still want that element of comfort and practicality, but ask yourself: would I go to the local shops dressed in this?” she said.
Mackinnon said jogger pants, a cashmere sweater, and tops in soft and stretchy fabrics are good go-to garments when working from home.
Mackinnon recommends Australian fashion label Bassike, which offers luxurious and wearable everyday pieces, as well as Jac + Jack, Country Road and Sussan for relaxed yet stylish clothing.
Another tip that Mackinnon has for working from home: wear a proper pair of shoes, other than Ugg boots or slippers, as it will help you to feel in work mode.
“A pair of slip-on loafers, soft flats, or a pair of casual sneakers are ideal when working from home,” she said.
Soft, loose-fitting garments
When working from home, Stevens recommends choosing soft, loose-fitting garments like tailored jogger pants, chinos, or a skirt with an elastic waist.
“Your desk at home might not be perfectly ergonomically set up compared to your work office, so it’s important that you’re dressed comfortably. You want to be presentable, but you don’t want to look too dressed down,” she said.
“A casual chambray shirt is good because they are quite soft. Some t-shirts that you may wear out on weekends could also work well, and a light knit is ideal for keeping warm yet comfortable.”
Originally published in Ladders.
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