As we head towards the third decade of the 21st century, we’re beginning to see the full effect that the internet has had on conventional jobs. Thirty years ago it would be inconceivable that most ‘professional’ jobs could be done from home. If there was typing to be done, you had to be in your work office, using your work computer, with access to the (probably communal) work printer. If there were telephone calls to be made, they had to be made from your work desk. Meetings happened in person. Delivery of documents happened in person. Many a veteran cleric will remember the days of writing a full set of reports, and then leaving them on the desk of their boss before clocking off for the day.

Nowadays, a lot of office jobs can actually be done from home. What used to be the reserve of the extremely fortunate is now everyday life for a lot of us; by the start of 2018, there were over four million UK workers who do their work (or at least most of their work) remotely. Telesales staff with a company-installed phone-line and an internet connection can work from home. There’s virtually no reason for anyone whose job consists solely of typing up documents to have to physically come into an office. Project work involving complicated spreadsheets can be done from home so long as you can access all the necessary data remotely. Even being called into a face to face meeting is becoming a thing of the past thanks to video conferencing.

Slowly, we’re all getting into the idea of ‘agile working’. But with that comes the temptation to spend the entire day in our sweatpants. And that’s the trap we have to avoid falling into. Very few of us really enjoy having to put a suit and tie or our best dress or button-up shirt on every day, but there are pitfalls to going too far in the other direction. Workwear may feel like a chore, but aside from identifying us as professional, it also helps us create a professional mindset. That mindset is essential for us to function as well at home as we do in the conventional office. Here are some crucial things to avoid and things to do if you’re considering whether your spare room could double as your work location.

Avoid Pyjamas

Wearing pyjamas is the worst thing you can do for your productivity. If you go to bed in your pyjamas and then spend the day in them, you never jolt your brain from ‘sleep mode’ to ‘work mode’, and soon you’ll never really be in either. You lose definition between rest time and work time, and you’ll find it difficult to identify what should be work time and what should be rest time. Getting dressed up is an essential part of preparing our bodies and minds to start the process of work. You don’t have to appear quite as formal as you would if you were going into an office, but you still want to ditch the pyjamas before you start your working day. Get up, have breakfast as usual, have a shower and then leave the pyjamas behind until its bedtime.

Wear slippers or house shoes

Now you’re not going out of the house, you can walk around your home barefoot, right? Wrong. You should definitely be wearing slippers (and this even applies when you’re spending time at home generally!) There are numerous health benefits to wearing slippers or indoor shoes. One of them is that they make you less likely to contract colds or flu. They keep your house clean, and they also limit the risk of bacterial infection. More than that though, they’re another thing that helps you create separation between being in bed and being at work. We put our shoes on because we’re going to work, so putting something on your feet helps to give your brain that ‘work mode’ nudge.

Get Some Comfortable Jeans

Sweat pants are very comfortable, but they’re not intended to be worn all the time. They’re fine before, during or after the gym, and occasionally when you’re in extreme relaxation mode at night, but not when you have work to do. With sweat pants on, you’re creating a ‘cosy’ feel for yourself that isn’t conducive to doing your best work. Invest in some nice, comfortable jeans; the sort of thing you might wear for a casual night out.
Wear A Shirt, Or A Smart T-Shirt

By now, you’ll probably have realized where we’re going with all this. Your best option when working from home is to go for a smart-casual look. Not only will it help you to feel more professional, but it will also remind you that you’re on the clock at all times, and it will help you separate your ‘normal’ work life and your home life, even if you’re not physically moving. Getting dressed up to work from home will prompt you to do all the little things that can easily slip otherwise; shaving for men, taking proper care of your hair for women. People new to working from home can easily find themselves out of every personal hygiene routine they’ve ever had within a matter of weeks, just because their routine has been disrupted.

It’s not entirely about mindset either. Keeping a semi-professional look at home has many advantages. You’ll feel more open to leaving the house occasionally, because you’re already dressed to go. Getting out and about for half an hour at lunchtime can help with the feeling of isolation you might experience when working from home, and you’re less likely to do it if you’re half dressed.

Then there’s the impact on your job to consider. Could you be called into a teleconference at any moment? Is there the chance that a colleague could knock on your door to bring you something from the office? With your physical presence at work reduced, you don’t want to give the impression that you’re slacking off. Your professional visibility should remain consistent.

You’ll even find that it helps you in ways you hadn’t considered. Looking to switch energy suppliers, or deal with your phone company? Do you have ‘life admin’ to take care of that you never get round to? Getting dressed up at home will make you feel more active, and therefore more energized to take care of the business of your life than you would be if you were in your lounging attire. Even the things you do for pleasure could benefit, for example if you play slots online. You wouldn’t go to a real-life casino dressed down; in fact, it’s one of the things you might get dressed up for more than any other! When are you more likely to be paying attention to the bonus features and winning possibilities of a good slot game; when you’re in your pyjamas, or when you’re really switched on and focused? Obviously, it’s the latter. If online slots are one of your hobbies, you may find they become more profitable if you approach them with a professional mindset.

Working from home should absolutely allow you a little more comfort than working at the office does, but it’s still important to approach that comfort with style.