Those of us who’ve had the opportunity to work from home have all done it at one point or another. Five minutes before our workday is meant to start, we drag ourselves out of bed, trudge to the desk, and start slaving away. It’s relaxing, it’s comfortable, and there’s a certain guilty pleasure in knowing that we’re getting away with being so lazy.
Thing is, there’s a good chance it’s also wreaking havoc on our productivity.
See, there’s a mounting body of evidence that clothes don’t just change how others perceive us. They change how we perceive ourselves, too. And if we’re plopping down in front of our desk wearing nothing but last night’s undergarments, what do you suppose our self-perception is?
Not great. It’s not just perception, either. Sitting down at your desk wearing work clothes might actually cause you to make better, more mindful decisions where your career is concerned – and wearing whatever you happened to take to bed last night can have the opposite effect.
“The formality of clothing might not only influence the way others perceive a person and how people perceive themselves, but could influence decision making in important ways through its influence on processing style,” reads a study conducted by a coalition of psychologists from several major universities. “Specifically, as formal clothing is associated with enhanced social distance, we propose that wearing formal clothing will enhance abstract cognitive processing.”
In other words, just as a messy home office can bleed into your thoughts and cause you to become less focused and less organized, so too can a messy outfit and a lack of hygiene wreak havoc on your workday.
Mind you, I’m not saying you should put on a pressed suit and tie every time you want to do a bit of work. There has to be a middle ground between professionalism and comfort here, after all. What I am saying is that you need to be as mindful of your personal appearance as you are of your surroundings.
Don’t skip that morning shower. Prepare for your workday as you’d prepare for an important meeting or a date. Do yourself up, wear clothes that make you feel empowered, and generally just put in the work necessary to be presentable – even if the only ones who are going to see you are your pets.
And if you still want to stumble to your desk wearing your underclothes every now and then, that’s perfectly fine. Just don’t make a habit of it. After all, you have work to do.