When you work from home, projecting a professional image is especially important. Here's how to maintain your home business professionalism.
With many white-collar workers being forced back to the office, it's become clear that the future of work hasn't really changed. We had some hope, but it's clear that the corporate masters want control over the situation. But I don't have to worry about that too much — I have a home business and can work from anywhere.
However, as someone who works from home, there are days that I don't actually change out of my pajamas or workout clothes until lunchtime. Sometimes I don't see “real” clothes until after my mid-afternoon workout and shower.
Even if I'm not wearing professional clothes, I do try to maintain some level of professionalism in my interactions. I try to keep my business emails business-like, and I do my best to speak in a professional manner over the telephone (although I'm really not at my best when I'm on the phone).
Ways to preserve home business professionalism
It's true that getting dressed can help. When I am dressed, I feel ready for the day, and it's easier to shift into “professional mode.” The way I speak, even over the phone, is different when I feel polished.
Even if I don't get dressed very early in the day on a regular basis, though, I do make an effort if I am going to be participating in a video conference. Anytime my image is going somewhere, I want to make sure that I present a professional front. Here are some other ways you can project a professional image, even though you work from home:
Keep what others see clutter-free
If you create videos, or if you engage in video chats or conference calls, make sure that what others see is clutter-free. Clean up the area behind you so that it is neat. If you place your credentials on the wall, or have a few attractive books behind you, it can enhance your professional image.
Today, Zoom meetings are common. More podcast recordings use video. With this in mind, I have a dedicated setup that looks professional. I might be wearing pajama bottoms, but my top is always professional and I try to do my hair.
Schedule interviews and meetings for times when it's quiet
I do my best to schedule interviews with subjects, as well as meetings with clients, when my son is at school, and my husband is out of the house. When he was younger, it didn't help my professional image if my son is in the background of the telephone call, asking if he can have a friend over, or jumping around in the view of a camera during a video chat. Pay attention to timing, and try to schedule communication with others when you can be a quiet area.
I've also got a door hanger I can use to let others know that I'm recording a podcast or video. This signals to others in the house that I shouldn't be disturbed.
Conduct in-person meetings off-site
As a home business owner, I don't like the idea of someone coming to my home for a meeting — and not just because I'd have to tidy up a bit. Hold in-person meetings in a neutral location, such as a restaurant or conference room. Co-working locations provide private conference rooms for presentation purposes. There is nothing wrong with discussing business over lunch. You might even get a tax deduction out of it.
Being able to project a professional, capable image is important. As a home business owner, you might have to work a little harder to maintain that image. With a little planning and effort, though, you should have no problem maintaining home business professionalism even if most of the work you do happens while you are wearing your pajamas.