Lounge in your Baby Yoda sweats. Break out those knee-high Santa socks that you love to wear during the holidays. Slide into your Rocket City Trash Pandas tee and pretend the baseball season is going to happen this year.
Sure, you can wear a suit and tie when you’re working from home. However, I invite you to ditch the fresh-pressed trousers for your comfy sweatpants.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many of you into working from the home office. Depending on your situation, that might be the kitchen table, the loveseat in the living room, or a closet if your kids are irritating enough. The worst thing we can do is put too much pressure on ourselves to be the model of perfection in this setting. Do not let anyone tell you that you must put on the suit and tie in lieu of that comfortable pullover you’ve had since college.
Balance that statement with some common sense. If you are meeting with the big boss over a Zoom video call, you will want to take your company culture into account. If your boss is expecting you to dress as if in the office, what he or she sees onscreen should reflect that expectation. The same may be true for client calls, depending on how you want to present your service.
For all other situations, your dress code is entirely up to you.
Adam Tschorn, deputy fashion editor for the Los Angeles Times, argues that you should ditch the sweatpants and “dress like the adult you’re getting paid to be”:
Please, can we all put away those sweatpants, ratty, gray, decades-old collegiate sweatshirts and obscure minor league baseball caps and start our workdays looking like we deserve the paychecks we’re lucky enough to be earning while the world around us burns? Especially, for the love of all that’s holy, if there’s a group video conference involved?
Some of us who have been doing this remote work thing for a few years and have come to love our loungewear. We are not going to let the rookies ruin it for the rest of us, a sentiment shared by a friend on Facebook.
I am sitting in my basketball shorts and a sleeveless T-shirt.
Taking off your shoes is a hard requirement when entering my home, a practical cleanliness tip I learned from time spent with Korean friends. It is the respectful thing to do. Plus, it is so much more relaxing. I want you to feel at home at my home.
Some people have trouble balancing work and home life when they are merged into one space. In those cases, “dressing for success” may help you mentally push through the day. However, it is a personal choice.
The one thing Tschorn and I agree on wholeheartedly is ritual. If even one thing about my daily ritual gets thrown off by unforeseen circumstances, I lose focus. It can often ruin the whole day. Those little rituals are a part of what set me up for success. Everyone’s are different. Some will want their morning coffee. Others need to shower, shave, and put on their Sunday best to feel like everything is right with the world.
There are rare days when I feel the need to switch it up. Put on a nice suit. Grab my seldom-worn fedora and place it firmly atop my head. It makes me feel like a 1920s-esque reporter who is ready to dig up some dirt on the local crime boss. Those days are about making me feel good about myself.
However, most days, it is about feeling comfortable at home.
It does not matter if you wear a Call of Duty T-shirt when building a new WooCommerce add-on plugin. Most people are not going to care if you don Sailor Moon sweatpants while running a successful managed WordPress hosting service. And, if you feel comfortable enough doing it, strip down to your undies while designing the next big WordPress theme. You may want to add a top while video conferencing in that last case — there are limits.
Life is tough enough right now without fashion gurus telling us what to wear.
Even work-from-home veterans are off our game at the moment. The world has changed practically overnight. We are still catching our breath from the gut-punch of this unique virus. We deserve to let ourselves go a bit while dealing with the stress of these changes.
I do not know much about fashion. I still break out my cargo pants from time to time, which are apparently a fashion faux pas today.
What I do know a little something about is working comfortably from home.
And that, my friends, is all about what makes you feel good about yourself.
I am probably preaching to the choir of remote developers, designers, and team managers. Many of us have been down this road and found that sweet spot that helps us receive through the day. For the newcomers, welcome to our world. Kick your heels off at the door. There is no fashion-shaming here. Enjoy our guilt-free software and community in your lazy pants.