“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have”
– Picture Perfect (1997)
After over 2 years of getting accustomed to video calls during remote work, we can safely assume that they are here to stay. A recent survey revealed that 86% of people are happy with their current video conference services, and 70% expect, going forward, to use them at least as often as they do today, even once social distancing has completely phased out. With all of this becoming permanently cemented in our new cultural understanding of what it means to work, you may be wondering how to make the right impression. Smaller technicalities like good lighting and punctuality come naturally after some trial and error through the many months you've already begun working remotely. But another question arises, while dust collects on the formal office wear hung up for months in your closet. On Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Skype, or another platform of your organization's choice, the clothes you wear make just as much of an impact on how others perceive you as they did in person. So what should you wear? It is always said that you should dress for the job that you want, so we are going to teach you how to dress for the REMOTE job that you want!
The first rule you need to know about dressing for a remote job is that there are no rules. There is no one key, guideline, best practice, or real-world example that you can follow exactly to find success. The only way to learn is by doing, and trusting your instincts. Every employee is different, so why should you all dress the same?
1. Reflect on How You Want to Present Yourself
A good start is to figure out what kind of professional image you want to project during your meetings. What would you look like right now if you were sitting in front of a camera? Would you read your current outfit as casual or formal? If you're not sure, ask yourself: "What does my ideal self look like?" Asking this question will help you to envision what the ideal version of you is wearing, and will help you decide whether you want to dress casually or formally.
2. Make Sure Your Clothes Fit Well
When you're meeting face-to-face, you can see how well your clothing fits. You may think that on a video call, this does not show up as clearly. And you might be right! But what you are forgetting is the way that what you wear affects how you feel, and then consequently, how you perform at work. When your clothes fit well, you look better and are more comfortable, which is positive reinforcement that you are capable and confident. This energy boost will help you to perform your best, so make sure that the clothes you wear while you work are properly tailored.
3. Choose Business Casual Outfits That Are Comfortable
While you might think that business casual outfits are too casual for a remote job, this is actually not true. In fact, most companies have relaxed their dress codes to allow employees to dress comfortably when they are working from home. For instance, you could choose to wear jeans and a button down shirt, and this could be entirely appropriate depending on the style you want to go for, and what your company aims for. Just because something is more formal does not mean that it will lead to better results. You don't want the clothes you are wearing to be uncomfortable and distract from the tasks you are trying to complete. Working remotely has given you more freedom in finding comfort in the style you want to wear. Adversely, if you feel and perform your best in a full suit, then that is what you should wear. Remember that there are no rules!
4. Keep Your Hair Clean and Neat
On video calls, your co-workers can't see your entire outfit. What can they see? Your hair. So make sure that your hair looks neat and clean. It doesn't matter what hairstyle you want to sport, just be sure that it is neat and tidy, and matches the image of yourself that you want to project to your colleagues and boss. Some people prefer short haircuts, others long ones. Whatever style you choose, make sure that it is easy to maintain. Switching up your hairstyle throughout the week can be a fun activity to add some more variety to your days, but if you want to be as low maintenance as possible, then stick to one signature style, and learn to perfect it quickly every morning.
5. Don't Forget About Accessorizing
Accessories are important, especially when you are talking about dressing professionally. They can really set the tone for your appearance, and give you the confidence you need to succeed. Whether you are wearing a simple necklace or a statement piece, accessories can really bring out the best in you. If you are going for a professional look, then you can opt for a nice watch or cufflinks. The key here is to find an accessory that suits your personality, and helps you to express who you are through small details. Working remotely means that it can be harder to socialize, so make sure your personality shines through the screen.
6. Be Yourself
The last thing you want to do is try to act like someone else. While you might be tempted to change your behaviour to match that of your colleagues, this won't get you anywhere. Just because one of your colleagues wears a full suit every day does not mean that that is the formula that will lead to your success. Instead, focus on being yourself. Dress according to your personal preferences, and let your natural self shine through. Being yourself is the only way to truly connect with your coworkers, and to become part of the team.
7. Don't Neglect the Backdrop
While not part of your outfit, your backdrop is essential to how your video call participants see and perceive you. Fake virtual backgrounds are not received well, according to surveys, but neither are messy offices. Make sure that your space is visible and clean so that you present as an organized worker. In addition to this, when you are working remotely, you may not notice how much your surroundings affect your mood. This is also why it's important to keep things organized around you. Make sure that your desk is clear, and that your workspace is clutter free. Also, make sure that you have enough space for all of your equipment. When you work from home, you don't always have access to a coffee shop or other public areas where you can take breaks. That means that you need to plan ahead, and ensure that you have everything you need close by.
The good thing about online meetings is that you have more control over your presentation than you may think. You still need to put forth an effort, but you also have the chance to present yourself in a way that fits your personality and brand image. Dress for success, and you just might find it.