Why you should dress a little nicer for those video calls

Coronavirus. Man in quarantine for coronavirus wearing protective mask. She's working from home and using video call. Video conference.
More than half of people working from home are wearing casual or athletic wear as they work. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/galitskaya)

If you have been working at home for the last few weeks or months, you’ve probably gotten used to your comfy clothes.

That’s fine, and for many it is an obvious work from home benefit. But you really should dress up a bit for those video conference calls.

If you show up on screen in sweats and a wrinkled T-shirt, you may be shooting yourself in the foot.

“When you do that, what are you signaling in terms of your promotion potential or your leadership potential? What are you signaling in terms of your alignment to the cultural norms of you organization? Maybe you’re aligned, but maybe not,” Alex Alonso, chief knowledge officer for the Society for Human Resource Management in Alexandria, Virginia, told WTOP.

“So you are inadvertently signaling to your boss that you are not aligned with the organizational norms. When you do that, that limits your promotion potential. That limits your opportunity. And that could be a real issue,” he said.

A recent SHRM survey of just over 1,000 office workers working remotely found 60% are working from home during COVID-19 wearing casual or athletic wear as their usual daily working attire. About half will shift to office-appropriate attire for video calls, at least from the waist up.

“I’ve seen one example of an organization that had a team that chose to do dual dress code. It was what are you wearing on the upper half of your body and what are you wearing on the lower half of your body. It can go awry in a number of ways. I strongly encourage people to stay seated, and check their camera angles,” Alonso said.

There are Type A personalities working at home, with 6% in the survey who said they still wear standard office attire every day.

It has been so long for some since they’ve been in their office settings, dress codes may have been forgotten.

“As businesses reopen, employers should review their dress policies and reaffirm guidelines so executives, employees and managers alike can ensure pajamas remain worn at home and not at work,” said SHRM President and CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.

Casual work from home has been an unexpected money saver. A recent Bankrate survey found 45% of workers have saved money on dry cleaning since switching to remote working, the second-biggest cost saving, behind transportation.

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Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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