One of the most attractive things about working from home is the opportunity to wear whatever you want to the “office.”
But while it’s tempting to snag an extra hour of sleep by simply rolling out of bed and turning on your computer, you could be making a mistake by working in your pajamas — even if no one is around to judge you for it.
In an article published by Inc. magazine, small-business advisor Marla Tabaka writes that taking a shower and wearing something respectable every day helps her feel more professional and take her work more seriously.
Indeed, there is at least one study that suggests dressing up can improve not only the way others perceive your skills, but the quality of the work itself.
In a 2012 study by Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, subjects who were given a white lab coat to wear performed significantly better on a cognitive test than those who wore street clothes.
The study also found that people who were told the coat belonged to a doctor outperformed those who were told it was a painter’s coat on a test measuring their ability to focus on a series of images.
As University of Hertfordshire professor and fashion psychologist Dr. Karen Pine explained to Forbes last year, this is because people tend to adopt the traits associated with the clothing they’re wearing.
“A lot of clothing has symbolic meaning for us, whether it’s ‘professional work attire’ or ‘relaxing weekend wear’, so when we put it on we prime the brain to behave in ways consistent with that meaning,” she said.
Wearing nice clothes is also beneficial when you have to go outside to grab a cup of coffee or run errands.
As public relations executive Jim Joseph points out in an essay for Entrepreneur magazine, you’re likely to engage with people who could further your career every time you leave the house, and it’s important to make the right impression.
If you run into someone who could take your business or career to the next level at the grocery store, you certainly won’t want them to think you’re a schlub.
But don’t despair, dressing nicely doesn’t mean you to have give up all of the comforts of home. In fact, freelance writer Celine Roque wrote an article for Gigaom that offers the perfect hack for striking a balance between coziness and professionalism at home: “I found that I was equally productive wearing my fuzzy bedroom slippers with my business clothes,” she wrote.
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