Even as the lockdown gradually eases here in the UK, many employees are still opting to work remotely. Those that can easily manage their workload online have been out of office since lockdown began on the 23rd of March, and many people instantly jumped at the opportunity to work in their snuggly loungewear or pyjamas. Considering this trend, experts are now advising against switching out work uniforms for loungewear — let’s look more closely at the future of working from home (WFH) and the impact that working in loungewear could be having on your mental health and productivity.
Will the WFH trend continue?
Although the novelty has worn off for some, many employees are forecasted to continue working remotely for the foreseeable future. According to Kate Lister, president of 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.
Companies themselves also have many reasons to encourage a more remote workforce in the aftermath of Covid-19. From sustainability to cost-cutting, there are numerous factors that, when combined with health and safety concerns, make home working the most reasonable option for many corporations. In the past, one of the major drawbacks surrounding remote working was the matter of trust, but now that many employers 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.
So, if the work from home trend is set to continue even in the wake of lockdown, will that mean that pyjamas and loungewear will become a permanent way of life? These garments may well be comfortable, but health experts advise against working in loungewear as not getting dressed in the morning has been found to have a serious impact on many people’s mental health and productivity.
Do pyjamas stunt productivity?
Of course, many of us enjoyed the novelty of comfy clothes at the beginning of lockdown — and why not feel snug and not bother getting dressed for a few days? After all, many of us rarely get the opportunity to do so. At the beginning of lockdown, loungewear became more in-demand than ever, with Google search volumes rocketing around the term.
Google search volumes for the term ‘Loungewear’
However, now that many people have been working from home for a few months, loungewear is more likely to be diminishing your productivity than improving it.
Charlotte Armitage, a media and business psychologist at YAFTA, explains the correlation between getting properly dressed and feeling productive: “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 goes on to explain that, “getting dressed into some designated “working” clothes could be a great way to ensure you’re able to do your job as you normally would in the office.”
She also discusses the psychology of getting properly dressed in work attire, whether that be particular staff uniform or simply a smarter outfit than your typical loungewear: “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.”
How does getting dressed for work help your mental health?
As well as boosting productivity, getting dressed, and ready for the day can have a transformative effect on your mental health. Having a routine to stick to is important to improve your mood and crucial if you want to feel ready for anything while working from home. Staying in pyjamas or loungewear has negative connotations, and this practice can easily trick us into feeling lazy and unproductive — creating a vicious cycle!
Getting up and dressed and taking a bit of care over your appearance can make a world of difference to your mental health. 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 — that’s got to be empowering!
Writing for Harper’s Bazaar, Jess Denham explained the negative effect that not getting ready for work had been having on her mental health: “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 establish a morning routine, with a focus on making herself look and feel great.
The idea that what you wear closely correlates with how you feel isn’t new information, but in the midst of the pandemic, this psychological effect seems to have been forgotten. 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!