Above: TAG Heuer Carrera Three Hands ($4250)
As the repercussions of COVID drag on (and on), working from home increasingly looks to be here to stay.
That’s the verdict from the American Economics Association, who just held their annual pow-wow in January to predict how the pandemic might permanently affect the status quo.
Based on monthly surveys stretching back to May 2020, these economists are now convinced that remote work will outlive COVID. They reckon about 15 per cent of workers are expected to be fully remote in the future, while almost a third will work in a “hybrid” fashion, splitting their days between office and home.
Working from home, of course, offers its own set of challenges as anyone who’s got glitchy Wi-Fi or has had a Zoom call gatecrashed by a marauding toddler can attest. But if you’re trying to boost your productivity while fielding client calls from your living room sofa, you should probably ditch your sweatpants and take a good hard look in the mirror. Admit it: most of us tackle remote working in some half-arsed take on “casual Friday” at best. Yet a growing body of research suggests we should probably resolve to make a more determined effort to dress for success.
That’s because of a phenomenon called “enclothed cognition” that shows how a person’s clothes are proven to influence their behaviour and mindset. This was most famously demonstrated in an experiment where US researchers found that students wearing white lab coats described as “doctor’s coats” were found to notably improve their levels of sustained attention.
The researchers believe that both the symbolic meaning and physical experience of wearing certain clothes can have a tangible effect on how you think, feel and function. How you dress can not only boost your confidence, it can sharpen your ability to focus.
In short, looking the business can help you take care of it, too. That doesn’t mean you have to don a bowtie and cufflinks for the next conference call you take from
your kitchen table. But one easy hack to improve your performance could be simply wearing a watch.
That’s the take-home from a British study in which researchers conducted short personality tests on 112 people. At the end of the tests, the participants were asked whether or not they regularly wore a wristwatch. When the researchers crunched the numbers, they found that the watch wearers were “significantly more conscientious” when compared with controls, as well as scoring higher on “emotional stability”. And whether you’re trying to tackle a financial report or deal with your moody boss, those are qualities that most of us could benefit from.
Wearing a decent watch, it seems, could be another trick in your mental armoury to tell your brain that you’re reporting for duty and endeavouring to conduct yourself in a vaguely professional manner. For many of us whose home working environment is less than ideal – I operate out of a garden shed optimistically relabelled as “my office” – we need all the help we can possibly get.