So are you a video on, or video off person? Does your company insist they can see you in the meeting and not just hear you? And do you only dress for work from the waist up? After a year of working at home I'm a little surprised at how many people still resist turning the camera on and got to wondering how much it matters.
Lockdown hair certainly has something to do with it for a few people, particularly those who always were the one's to turn up immaculately dressed to the office. I had a meeting with someone I only work very occasionally with recently and as I turned my camera on was greeted with 'oh no, I haven't done my hair, I can't possibly turn the camera on'. And it made me wonder why not; why she hadn't done her hair? It would presumably never have occurred to her if she was heading into the office - after all you can hardly walk round with a bag on your head all day - so why not if you have meetings? In fact the thing I wondered most about was if it was something you only do when someone else will see you.
I was reminded of a conversation with another colleague months ago. She works incredibly hard, has been home schooling three primary age kids and making time to get out and go for a run most days. We speak regularly, cameras on, and she had been telling me about someone who had asked her if she was never going to wear makeup again! Perhaps not the kindest comment, but I hadn't really noticed. Well that's not entirely true, it just wasn't important to me. My response perhaps was not the one she might have expected.
"I haven't stopped wearing perfume yet, I've never done it for other people, its always been something I've done for me"
I absolutely get the weekend mentality of not needing to dress for work, or worry about how you look in front of colleagues, just to relax and be comfortable. So do we really only dress to impress others? Can you honestly say that when you last put on some really stylish or elegant clothes, had your hair (or beards for the gentlemen) done, and popped some of your favourite fragrance on, you didn't feel great? You didn't need to wait until someone else commented, you just needed to look in the mirror, although kind comments from others are always welcome.
There is an inseparable link between mind and body. Eating a poor diet, lack of exercise will both leave your mental health is a worse place than a healthy diet and keeping fit. That really isn't news to anyone. But what about the smaller, less obvious connections between physiology and mental state? And how does this affect our working from home mentality. Blurring the boundaries between home life and work life has become much harder for many people. Quite often the laptop, and those reminders of work, are now ever present on the dining table. Those who have enough space in their homes have deliberately created a workspace in a spare bedroom so that they can close the door behind them at the end of the working day.
So has your weekend wardrobe become your workday wardrobe too? The hoodie you walk the dog in, and would never have dreamt of wearing to the office, is it now part of your workwear? Or is it a shirt for the sake of camera appearances and joggers for comfort? I'm trying hard to remember the last time I saw someone wearing a tie? Dashing out to walk the dog between meetings, just for the sake of a break from the screen, it is certainly more practical to be wearing jeans and wellies rather than a dress and heels. But there was something about the morning routine of dressing for work that was more than the clothes, it was part of the putting on of the professional mentality in readiness for the day.
And similarly, something cathartic about getting changed into jeans again when you got home that drew an end to the working day. Perhaps we need to give more thought to how the ritual of dressing affects your attitude of mind. Of course there will be many of you who have no problem sleeping at night, not carrying over the stresses of the day into your evening. Those for whom home working has only been a good thing.
And then for those of you who have found it harder, perhaps its time to make some changes for your wellbeing, or in preparation for the transition once the office is open again. Keep work confined to whichever area you have in your home set aside for it. Where possible keep it out of the room you relax in during the evening, and whenever possible put the laptop away out of sight. If you have work emails on your phone, turn the notifications off. Think ahead to your routine once time in the office is once more a thing. If you will be getting up earlier for that journey to the office, what do you do with that time now? If you've been setting the alarm later, then think about setting it at old earlier time once a week, and doing something constructive with the time. You'll get back in the habit of an earlier rise and perhaps get some yoga, a run, or a bit of mindfulness to set up your day.
And how about choosing to wear some of the work clothes again. For some, they may not fit as well as they did and it might be time to do something about it. Notice how you feel differently in that suit. It can be surprising how many small things make a big difference. So if you are unhappy with the way that work seems to have taken over your home, create yourself some new boundaries. And definitely don't wear your pyjamas to work