What does looking professional mean in a WFH situation?

man working remotely

There was a time when looking your best at the office was a top-to-toe affair. You had to wash your hair, bathe, smell good, dress nice, and actually wear shoes. Yes, footwear. Remember those?

It feels like those days are gone. Well, maybe for the time being. Because of the pandemic, our work-from-home situation is still in place. Though certain workplaces are now slowly going back to their physical offices, many of us will still call our video calls and Slack channels “the office.”

So given this reality, what does “dressing well” for the office really mean?

You probably know by now, based on your experience this past year, that it’s all about the face. Well, maybe your upper torso as well, but because we spend so much time on video calls, how your face looks matters more than how your breath smells.

Some people feel that dressing in officewear even while working from home enables them to get into work mode, but for the most part, it’s really just our faces that people at work see. This is why it’s so important to make your video call look office-appropriate and work-ready.

Your Hair

Nothing says “I literally just got out of bed five minutes before this call” than wiry, tousled hair in a video conference. It’s not that rolling out of bed right before a meeting is necessarily a bad thing. If that’s your process, then you do you. It’s just that, when working directly with others, how we appear in front of them can tell a lot about how much we respect them.

You don’t need to blow-dry your hair before every meeting, but ensuring that your hair is all sorted out before turning your video camera on is the least you could do. If you just got out of the shower, of course, it’s best to get it as dry as you can before the meeting. If you happen to work in a more casual workplace, one trick could be to put on a baseball cap to hide unkempt hair.

Your Eyes

Much like your hair, your eyes can be a dead giveaway. As the “windows to your soul,” your eyes can tell a lot about your overall physical and mental state. It can be obvious if you’re sleepy, tired, or disinterested. If your eyes don’t appear sharp or focused, it may look like you’re not taking your work seriously or are distracted.

If you spent the night watching a really good but really sad drama, your eyes are probably extra puffy in the morning. Take a few minutes before your video call to try one of these home remedies to reduce the swelling and increase your alertness.

woman smiling

Your Smile

Without the aid of body language, video call conversations rely largely on your facial expressions. It’s why sometimes we tend to exaggerate our reactions on video calls more than we normally would in a physical space.

With so much focus being placed on your face, proper dental hygiene is even more important. Sure, nobody is going to smell your breath through an online conversation, but they will see if you’ve been adding spinach to your breakfast omelet.

Before jumping into a video call, make sure your teeth are clean. If you just finished a meal, make sure there are no crumbs around your lips. People might not smell you, but it will still look gross if there are food bits on your face.

Your Look

To makeup or not to makeup? That is a question that only you can answer. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being confident in your own bare face. Conversely, if wearing makeup makes you feel good, then paint your face away!

Because so much focus is placed on the face, some people have even started considering getting facial treatments like Juvederm fillers. They smooth out the wrinkles on the face, giving you a more polished look on camera. The advantage of this is that, because a Juverderm injection lasts for about half a year to a year, it’s a facial enhancement that you can take with you even when your office goes back to in-person meetings. It’s going to be like walking around with your own face-enhancing camera filter!

Of course, at the end of the day, your appearance is just one aspect of workplace professionalism. It’s definitely the first thing that people see, and we all know how much first impressions last, but it’s no use looking professional if you don’t behave professionally.

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