Working From Home During A Quarantine – Will Productivity Suffer?
By requiring people to stay in their homes whenever possible, COVID-19 has turned the world on its head as it relates to working from home (“WFH”). The pros and cons of working from home versus going into the office have been the subject of online debate for years, and one thing is clear: there’s no clear right or wrong that applies to everyone.
Working From Home In The Age Of Quarantine
A two-year-long Stanford study tells us that working from home boosts productivity and decreases employee attrition. On the other hand, anecdotal data from a self-made millionaire tells us that the home is rife with distractions and your productivity will take a nose-dive if you keep a home office.
The thing is, none of that matters now since we are currently required to work from home. We happen to be in the midst of a global pandemic, and as such our thoughts on working from home up until now are moot for the time being. The fact of the matter is that if you have a job that can pivot to a telecommute, you’re telecommuting.
Still, the transition from an office environment to a work-from-home one is just that: a transition. How do you maintain (or even increase) your productivity if you’re new to working from home?
One key part of the response to this question lies in your image and how you (continue to) manage it from your dining room table home office.
We put this first because it’s very important. Being quarantined is a new, strange experience for the vast majority of us. Some professions, require the worker to be isolated for long periods of time. Submariners and astronauts are isolated from their friends and family for weeks and months on end, and they all say that keeping a routine is essential to being productive and, frankly, maintaining your mental and physical health.
If you exercised regularly before the shutdowns, by all means adjust your routine to make it home-friendly, but continue exercising. Continue getting up around your normal time (you can sleep in a little bit), and go about your day with normally allotted time for work, meals, breaks, and the like.
It’s easy to get thrown off a routine, but it’ll be really difficult to get back into one when this quarantine ends if you slip too far. The more we can practice normalcy during this most abnormal of times, we’ll be in the best headspace possible once things return to normal.
Dress Like You Mean It
When you aren’t leaving the house, it can be tempting to take conference calls in a t-shirt. Without co-workers or clients to dress for, it’s easy to convince yourself that staying in your pajamas all day is a good idea.
It’s not a good idea. As image consultants, we constantly talk to our clients about how the clothes they wear have a positive affect on how they perceive and, therefore, present themselves. When you are dressed properly for a job, you will perform better at that job, plain and simple.
This rings just as true at home as it does at the office. This Forbes article on the link between clothing, productivity, and professionalism offers plenty of testament to this, and even notes the owner of a 45-person, 100% remote digital marketing firm who “…still dresses sharply in shirt and trousers.”
If you’re at home lounging, then wear loungewear. If you’re at home working, dress like you’re working. At a bare minimum, wear clean, pressed clothing that’s in good repair, and dress thoughtfully enough that you wouldn’t be embarrassed to welcome a surprise visitor.
Such a visit would be quite a surprise during a public health crisis, but we digress.
Keep Up Your Grooming Practices
Just as our clothing choices affect how we perceive and present ourselves, so do our grooming decisions. When you’re clean and groomed, you walk tall and feel prepared to take on the world. When you’re unkempt, it makes it harder to focus and work can suffer as a result.
First and foremost, you still need to shower and practice dental hygiene. Even if you live alone during this quarantine, you need to keep up with these simple practices, if for no other reason than acting out of self-respect.
Continue wearing deodorant. Apply less cologne that you might have otherwise, but apply it nonetheless.
With various statewide shutdowns occurring, we know that getting a professional haircut or shave simply isn’t an option for many of us right now (this author included). Still, you should make every effort to make yourself look as neat and tidy as possible.
Most guys who keep beards know how to maintain them, but if you don’t, here’s a great guide on beard care. If the hair on your head is approaching Wolfman proportions, just do your best to keep it looking the best it can. If you choose to start cutting your own hair, make sure you won’t be seeing anyone besides family for a while. We have nothing against cutting one’s own hair – lots of men are good at it, and more than just buzzcuts – it’s just a new skill that would entail a learning curve, and you don’t want to be on a video call with a client looking like you just tried cutting your hair for the first time.
A professional image is linked with productivity. To maintain your image, your best bet is to maintain your routines, dress like you’re ready to work, and keep yourself groomed as if you were leaving the house everyday.
Do you have questions on how to harness the power of your image?
As temporary remote workers, we’re reachable at 215-253-5905 and email@example.com. Reach out anytime, we’re happy to FaceTime or Zoom with you for advice.