Does your work at home outfit increase your productivity?
The number of people working remotely is increasing, as are new trends in the way of working from home. For many, the ability to wear loungewear during working hours is a huge plus. Not only is it more comfortable than regular work clothes, it also saves time when it comes to ironing, washing and getting ready in the morning. Before you commit to a life of hoodies and sweatpants, however, consider this: Studies show there’s a link between dressing for work and your overall productivity. According to science, clothing can influence the way we think and feel through symbolism and routine.
Dressed cognition is a term that describes the psychological effects of wearing certain types of clothing. In a 2012 study, cognitive psychologists Hajo Adam and Adam Galinsky gave participants a white coat to wear during an attention test. Half of the participants were informed that they had received a doctor’s gown; the other half were told they were given a blouse usually worn when painting. Even though the gowns were the same, participants who thought they were wearing a doctor’s gown outperformed those who thought they were wearing a gown. The symbolic value attached to certain clothes can influence our behavior when we wear these clothes. Following the logic of the lab coat experiment, donning a blazer can increase your confidence and focus, while wearing a sports tracksuit can help you make healthier choices during your day.
Build a routine
The simple routine of dressing can also help with productivity. According to behavioral expert Nick Hobson, even small rituals can have huge psychological and biological benefits. By dressing at the same time each morning, you start your day with a little more order and structure than you would when you got out of bed and tucked into your pajamas. That little bit of structure can ease stress and help create a healthy line between your work day and your personal time. The so-called “Mr. Rogers Effect” of changing clothes before and after work gives your brain a signal that it is time to focus or that it is time to relax.
Finding the right balance
If you dread a future without elastic belts, don’t despair: dressing for increased productivity doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice comfort. You can take advantage of the scientific findings above by choosing pieces that make you feel confident and capable. For some it might mean classic office attire, like blazers and long-sleeved shirts, for others it might mean a daily “uniform” consisting of jeans and a t-shirt. Whatever you choose, be sure to stick to the routine of changing your clothes before and after work for maximum impact.
Give it a try. If you’re struggling to stay focused throughout the day, try some new work-from-home outfits. While it may seem trivial, dressing for work (even when working from home) has a measurable effect on your mood and your level of productivity.
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