Comfort Is King: Dressing For Success, Pandemic Style

As businesses reopen, employers should review and reaffirm their dress policies to ensure pajamas remain worn at home—and not at work.

COVID-19 has dramatically changed where and how people work. For many Americans now working from home due to the pandemic, their dens or bedrooms have become their new workplace. As a result, it’s also changed the way employees dress for work: In-office dress policies no longer apply and actual pants, it seems, have become optional.

More than half of American workers (60 percent) report wearing sweatpants while working from home, according to a new survey by SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management). The survey also found very few (6 percent) of teleworking Americans don business attire and that most dress according to whether they’ll be seen by others via video.

dress policies
(Credit: Getty Images/Javier Rodriguez Jimenez)

The survey asked 1,002 American workers about their attire during stay-at-home-orders. Of those working from home, it found:

  • Three out of five (60 percent) Americans working from home during COVID-19 are wearing casual or athletic wear (such as sweatpants, hooded sweatshirts) as their usual daily working attire.
  • Seventeen percent are wearing an office-appropriate top but casual pants as their usual daily working attire; notably, this rises to nearly half (49 percent) when taking a video call.
  • Seventeen percent of Americans are wearing their pajamas as their usual remote work outfit, while a brave 7 percent stay in them during video calls.
  • Just 6 percent said office-wear or business attire was their usual daily attire.

“With just six percent of teleworking Americans wearing business attire at home, and 17 percent working in our pajamas, it’s very clear comfort has beaten formality,” said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM President and CEO. “It also reaffirms something many of us may have suspected all along: That colleague in the nice jacket may very well be wearing sweatpants, too.

“As businesses reopen, employers should review their dress policies, and reaffirm guidelines so executives, employees, and managers alike can ensure pajamas remain worn at home—and not at work,” Taylor added.

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