As new lockdowns come into effect, remote working is becoming more widespread again.
Offices have been instructed to close in order to manage the spread of the virus. While some workers jumped at the opportunity to go back into offices when they re-opened, many UK employees who found remote working to be beneficial have been out-of-office for months.
As a result of remote working, a number of people instantly jumped at the opportunity to work in their snuggly loungewear or pyjamas. However, experts are now advising employees to switch out loungewear for more traditional workwear.
Here, we look more closely at the future of working from home and the impact that working in loungewear could be having on your mental health and productivity.
Working from home is set to stay
While the coronavirus pandemic instigated the biggest shift to remote working we’ve ever seen, it only accelerated a trend that was already growing. It’ll come as little surprise that working from home is expected to continue for many. According to Global Workplace Analytics, around 25 to 30 per cent of the workforce will be working from home several days a week by the end of 2021. Before the COVID-19 crisis even began, surveys found that 80 per cent of employees wanted to work from home at least some of the time so, now people have had a taste for home-working, this trend is likely to continue.
Businesses are now also realising the benefits of remote working that go beyond containing the coronavirus. From sustainability to cost-cutting, there are numerous factors that make home-working the most reasonable option for many organisations. In the past, one of the major concerns around remote working was whether employees could be trusted at home. But now that many businesses have been forced to give it a go, most have realised that it is the results that count, not how many people are sitting at their desk in the office. Many have seen a rise in productivity as a result of home-working.
Long-term working from home brings with it the possibility of employees working in loungewear and pyjamas as standard. These garments may be comfortable and feel appropriate for home-working, but health experts advise against working in loungewear. Not getting dressed in the morning has been found to have a quantifiable impact on mental health and productivity.
Pyjamas and productivity
For many, lockdown and loungewear are synonymous. Many people naturally don’t feel the need to get dressed in formal attire if they don’t need to leave the comfort of their home. After all, the opportunity to stay in pyjamas all day is rare for many. At the beginning of lockdown, loungewear became more in-demand than ever, with Google search volumes rocketing around the term.
The novelty appears to be wearing off, however, and studies have shown that loungewear can have a negative impact on a remote employee’s productivity.
The Media Psychologist, Charlotte Armitage, says there’s a psychological element attached to getting dressed, which improves productivity. She says: “The key to ensuring a level of productivity in the home is to create a routine and structure that you force yourself to stick to.” She argues that changing into “designated working clothes” can help you be productive because you associate those items of clothing with going into the office and working.
There is a reason work attire helps you to focus when working at home. Armitage further comments: “When the routine of getting changed into new clothes for working at home is practiced enough, psychologically you become conditioned to associate the changing of clothes with a change of mindset, psychological pace and focus, therefore preparing you for the working day ahead.”
The mental health impact of dressing for work
It’s not just productivity that dressing for work can positively affect. Research shows it can also support your mental health; something which is in the spotlight due to the impact of lockdown. A number of leading mental health organisations champion having a set routine as a key way of improving mental health. It becomes even more important when improving mood and feeling prepared to work from home. Staying in pyjamas or loungewear has negative connotations, and this practice can easily make workers feel lazy and unproductive, creating a vicious cycle.
Changing into your usual workwear, whether that’s a uniform or a smart outfit, can make a difference to your mental health. People undertaking their usual hair and makeup routine also see an improvement in how they feel. What’s more, when working from home, the morning routine is all about you and how you feel rather than being a performative effort for the outside world, and many people find that empowering.
Freelance journalist and copywriter, Jess Denham, wrote about her experience of working from home without her usual workwear and beauty routine. She said: “Every time I caught sight of myself in a mirror, I looked how I look when I’m off sick. I don’t look ugly without make-up on — I don’t think anybody does — but the face in the glass wasn’t the face I see in ‘normal’, happier times. I no longer felt like me.” After this realisation, Denham began to re-establish a morning routine, with a focus on making herself look and feel great.
It’s no surprise that what we wear can have an impact on our productivity and mental health; it’s why businesses implement dress codes or a staff uniform in the first place. However, as working from home is set to stay, it’s more important to get this message across than ever before. Fashion and workwear can impact your mental wellbeing and put you in a positive mindset for the day ahead. While working from home, it’s more important than ever to feel confident in yourself and your abilities. This way, you’ll produce your best work and be your best self, even if no one else is around to see it!