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Do you need a working from home dress code?

Paystream News

Kerry Hull

Monday 9th Apr, 2018

Does what limited company contractors who work from home wear really matter? Your clothes can actually affect your psychology, and how motivated you feel in your role.

Working from home is a huge perk for people who choose to work as limited company contractors or freelancers. It means no commute, the chance to choose your own working hours and a useful opportunity to stick a load of washing on while you work, cutting down on your chores for the evening.

It also means you can technically work in your pyjamas, but for some, this conjures up an image of a lazy, slobby worker, which naturally freelancers want to avoid.

But does it really matter what you wear to work from home if no one can see you? At the end of the day, it's not just about whether you can be seen, it's about how you feel when you wear it.

Of course, it is a lovely perk of being your own boss that you can wear your PJs to work when you want to, but here a few things you should be thinking about when you get ready for work each morning:

Is your appearance making you feel motivated?

Your appearance can massively affect your mood - we all usually feel much fresher and ready to face the day after a morning shower or bath, and often associate our comfy trousers with the end of the day and switching off. It's therefore important to think about these things when you're getting ready.

Do you feel scruffy or slobbish in your outfit? Have you already been wearing it for a few days? Is it ironed? Have you bothered to wash and brush your hair? Brushed your teeth? All of these little things can make a massive difference to how you feel about yourself, your abilities and your productivity.

Not bothering with your appearance can leave you feeling sluggish and might make you more likely to slouch at your desk, which means you're less likely to be reaching your full potential.

Making a bit more of an effort with your outfit and overall appearance can have a significant effect on your psychology.

Earlier this year, FJWilson Talent Services asked professionals who work from home how their attire affects productivity, with the majority agreeing that looking and feeling smarter helps them feel more business-like. This can assist in creating a clear divide between your professional self and switched-off, at-home self, taking you closer to that coveted perfect work-life balance.

Anthony Haynes, Director of Talent Management Services at FJWilson Talent Services, commented: "I too find that very casual clothing, including nightwear, doesn't work: it sends the wrong signal to the brain.

"I tend to wear collared shirts. These have the advantage that they can be worn with a tie for Skype meetings. I hate having Skype business meetings unless I'm dressed professionally."

Comfortable vs smart: Finding the balance

But at the same time, you don't want to be spending your working hours feeling unnecessarily uncomfortable in business-smart clothes, so it's important to find a balance.

This is arguable much easier for women, as there are plenty of smart-casual clothes that are comfortable, yet look professional at the same time, such as loose-fitting dresses, or even a long blouse with leggings - perfect for working-from-home comfort, but easily made a little more dressed-up with jewellery for a video call-based meeting.

Men's business-formal options tend to be more limited, but Mr Haynes advice of wearing a smart shirt with comfortable trousers is enough to give the illusion that you're dressed formally from head to toe on video calls with clients, while also making you feel a little smarter than if you were simply in a t-shirt - just remember what you're wearing if, for some reason, you have to stand up mid-call!

Dressing for face-to-face meetings

Naturally, face-to-face meetings require different dress rules altogether and you should always make sure you're dressed in a professional and appropriate manner when meeting your clients to give the best possible impression of yourself.

While generally you can't go wrong with a smart suit or at least a shirt or blouse and tailored trousers or a skirt, it's worth bearing in mind the culture of the company that you'll be meeting with. If it's a relaxed, creative agency that you're pitching for work with, you don't want to come across too stuffy or formal-looking.

Take the time to research every client and adjust your dress sense accordingly so that you're feeling comfortable, looking professional and giving across the impression that you'll fit in perfectly working with them.