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Business on Top; Casual on the Bottom?

August 15, 2020

By Heather Nezich, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

This new survey provides some comedic relief from all the stress of COVID-19. According to a new survey released by SHRM, more than half of American workers (60%) report wearing sweatpants while working from home. 

The survey also found very few (6%) of teleworking Americans wear business attire, and most dress according to whether they’ll be seen by others via video. The survey asked a panel of 1,002 American workers about their attire during stay-at-home-orders.

Of those working from home, it found: 

  • Three out of five (60%) Americans working from home during COVID-19 are wearing casual or athletic wear (such as sweatpants, hooded sweatshirts) as their usual daily working attire
  • 17% are wearing an office-appropriate top but casual pants as their usual daily working attire; notably, this rises to nearly half (49%) when taking a video call
  • 17% of Americans are wearing their pajamas as their usual remote work outfit, and a brave 7% stay in them during video calls
  • Just 6% said office-wear or business attire was their usual daily attire

“With just 6% of teleworking Americans wearing business attire at home, and 17% 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.”

Another survey completed by Fishbowl, revealed that:

  • 1 out of 10 people (9.6%) wear only underwear below the belt during video conference calls. The gender breakdown probably won’t surprise you — men answered that they video conference in their underwear at more than three times a higher rate than women at 14.27% vs 4.72%
  • Only 3% of professionals wear professional attire in video meetings
  • 75% said they wear pajamas, sweats, shorts, or leggings
  • 13% wear jeans

Without getting too in the weeds, employers should set general dress guidelines for remote workers. Employees should still present a professional appearance if appearing on video while working at home.  A good rule of thumb is to dress for your audience.  Some sample guidelines might include:

  • All clothing should be neat, clean, and appropriate.
  • Employees who have direct contact with customers should dress appropriately. This applies to employees with both daily and less frequent customer contact.
  • Dress should be appropriate to different business situations.
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