Let’s talk about what to wear when working at home. The answer is of course whatever the hell you want unless you have an online video conference meeting. That sadly does change things and depending on the job you have and the environment you are used to it either changes things a lot or a little bit. Let’s take a close look at the online meeting and what you need to wear.
1. You must wear pants
It is true that in an online video call we can only see the top half of people and we have all made the joke that there is really no need to wear pants on these calls. However, there is a very real need to wear pants on these calls. The reason is, of course, the unexpected. You never know what will happen on a call and the last thing you want is to be caught with your trousers down either figuratively or literally. Perhaps your child will fall over and you will rush to help, revealing your legs. Perhaps your boss will admire your home and ask for a quick tour (that would be strange but it could happen). While some things can be explained like a messy kitchen, if you have no pants on it is an awkward situation to talk yourself out of.
2. You must look clean and presentable
Wherever you work, whether it is the most casual office in the world or the most strict dress code in existence, your clothes must be clean, neat, ironed, and tidy. This is both for the benefit of those who have to look at you and your benefit. Psychologically if you look a mess people will see you as a mess and have less confidence in your work. At least look smart to get halfway to convincing people that you are smart.
3. Dress as you have always dressed
This rule really solves the dilemma and it is incredibly simple. If your office was shirts, ties and suits then that is what you need to wear on video calls. If your office was T-shirts and shorts, then that is what you need to wear on calls. Many offices today are relaxing the dress code because they want people to be comfortable at work and they realize that a tie doesn’t really do anything.
A lot of offices now have a policy in place where you can wear casual clothes if you are certain you have no external meetings. In an office environment that can be risky in many jobs as external meetings can just appear. However, when working at home this is less likely to happen. That means in those situations you can embrace the casual dress code more and simply get changed if you ever have an external meeting.
4. Delay the impromptu meeting
There will still be the occasional impromptu meeting with a client or your boss. You are online, they are online and they say those oh so dangerous words “Why don’t we jump on a video call for a minute?”. This is where the panic sets in. You had no meetings planned today and are still in your pajamas and your face is covered in the frosting from the donut you just devoured. No problem. Simply write “I would love to, let me just freshen my coffee first”. This will buy you the time to get changed, go to the bathroom, comb your hair, or if all else fails, break the camera lens on your computer.
Of course, that line only works if you drink coffee. If everyone knows you don’t drink coffee then make sure you say something else instead. While everyone knows you are probably going to put pants on there is no reason to stop the pretense so soon.