This year, many people have experienced working from home for the first time.
And, for the majority, adjusting to this way of working will have posed challenges, particularly when it comes to maintaining discipline around their appearance and daily routine.
A UK study by Maintel revealed that over 67% of respondents don’t dress to look smarter for work video calls. The research also highlighted that 17% wake up just moments before their early morning calls and only 35% brush their hair for an on-screen call.
Retaining professional discipline at home is about how we dress, where we work, and how we structure our day.
While being home-based, we still need to dress for the occasion. That might not mean wearing a suit and tie or formal office wear, but it’s important to dress appropriately. Working in your gym clothes might be comfortable, but it’s unlikely to set you up mentally for a productive day at your home-office. Likewise, working from home can allow for a more relaxed environment, but appearing on a conference call in Star Wars pjs doesn’t convey professionalism!
Of course, it’s not just about our physical appearance. Our working environment also plays a role in creating a professional attitude. Not everyone has enough space to create a dedicated office. However, there are still ways to ensure your working environment is professional and practical. If you’re working at the kitchen table, for example, tidy everything else away each morning and set up your working space ready for the day.
When you’re appearing on video calls, ensure the room on view behind you is presentable. It doesn’t need to look like an office, but it can look clean, tidy, and ready for work.
Another area in which discipline is required when working from home is routine. When working in an office or other physical environment, the majority of people will have a very structured day. They wake up, travel to work, and take lunch and breaks at set times. Being home-based removes some of that structure – and it can be all too easy to fall out of one routine into another, less healthy one.
Think about how you will spend the day, when to take breaks, and what time you will sit down to start work. It’s not a case of simply transferring your previous routine, but rather, creating one that works in your new environment.
How can businesses support their employees?
Companies need to consider what additional support their home-based workforce needs. For example; will employees face additional costs by paying more for a better, faster Wi-Fi connection? Or will their heating and power costs be higher? Also, what risks exist for employees while working from home? Would a risk assessment on their home-office be valuable to ensure it complies with health and safety rules?
Establishing boundaries and discipline when working at home can be challenging but it is essential, not only to put ourselves in the right working mindset, and also so we convey that sense of professionalism to internal colleagues and external customers.
Being disciplined doesn’t mean that you can’t relax and be comfortable, but there are limits if you want to remain professional in both appearance and approach.