Until recently, remote work was a privilege for a few and a mystery for many.
Today it is a necessity for everyone.
The good thing is that technology now allows us to do so, and in this last year, the concept is more familiar for many lawyers. This exceptional situation proves that it is possible to work from home with the same professionalism and productivity as an office. We have to admit that Zoom meetings have become a normal and easy.
Many lawyers are confused, and they are dressing as if they went to the office. It is unnecessary to be hyper-formal and in a suit and tie, but switching from home to work mode is very important, and clothing plays its part. Clothes don’t just shape the way other people see us. New research from a team of psychological scientists from California State University, Northridge, and Columbia University finds that the clothes we wear can also influence the way we think.
A study reported in December 2014 in the , male subjects wore their usual duds or were placed in a suit or sweats. Then they engaged in a game that involved negotiating with a partner. Those who dressed up obtained more profitable deals than the other two groups, and those who dressed down had lower testosterone levels. They said that informal clothing might hurt in negotiations. But, in 2021, the situation is very different. Because of the increased numbers of Zoom meetings, people have started creating new neuronal patterns of perceptions and established a new “subconscious dress code.” Already, we can notice behavioral changes. Now, everything is different!
However, we can get there; it’s time to equip ourselves with a nice, smart, working etiquette.
Beyond the workplace and the ambience that shows in our cameras, we can’t replace our outfits with virtual outfit options like avatars, yet. We have to be aware of our outfits and elegance in our online meetings. Moving forward toward psychological impact on this topic, researchers studying links between clothes, brain activity, and productivity have long found that dressing up for work can improve your performance. Some are now turning their attention to how these factors play out in dressing for remote work and Zoom meetings.
The rise of video calls has added complexity to an area of research known as “enclothed cognition,” or what signals clothes send to the brain, says Dr. Adam Galinsky, co-author of the pre-pandemic research that coined the term. “In some ways, the clothes that you wear might have an even bigger impact because we can often see ourselves and what we’re wearing, and that sort of draws that symbolic value [attached] to it even closer to our consciousness,” he says.
His research, published when he was a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in 2012.
He introduces the term “enclothed cognition” to describe the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes. We offer a potentially unifying framework to integrate past findings and capture the diverse impact that clothes can have on the wearer by proposing that enclothed cognition involves the co-occurrence of two independent factors—the symbolic meaning of the clothes and the physical experience of wearing them. Thus, the current research suggests a basic principle of enclothed cognition—it depends on both the symbolic meaning and the physical experience of wearing the clothes. In his research, he shows how clothes systematically influence wearers’ psychological processes.
The conclusion is that you have to give your virtual meetings the same attention as you were in person. [b]
Just like you wouldn’t show up to an office meeting with your pajamas on, you should dress appropriately for virtual meetings. Dress as you would in the office room. It’ll help you stay focused and in “work” mode, even if you’re miles away from your office. It’s still a work meeting, and you should treat it that way.
Making an effort to looking professional on a video call creates a positive image for your teammates.
Also, self-care rituals like getting dressed and taking care of your hair for a Zoom meeting can have an important impact on your inner state. Here at eLAWvation, we focus on a lawyer’s mental, emotional, and physical health. Self-care plays an important role in all these values.
I remember, when I started to practice law, I had this implicit bias regarding the formalism of lawyer’s profession, and I’ve changed my garderobe completely. My dream was to become a fashion designer, as you will read the story in our book… I have become very classic, changing my style completely. I remember, one day, I opened my dressing room and there were no colors. All my clothing were very classic. I really hope that this pandemic period has changed the lawyer’s stigma related to the formalism of appearance and attire.
After one year, we’ve started noticing a big difference. First thing, business casual is the new normal. If you’re wearing a suit while working from home, it almost feels inappropriate. Even if your office does not require you to wear a suit every day, rules have generally relaxed across the board. I can imagine how much psychological impact this will have, a completely different approach to choosing our work attire.
According to studies, casual dress wins most of the time; 61% of employees are more productive when the dress code is relaxed, and 80% of people who work in an environment with a dress code responded that they don’t find them useful.
Psychological studies show the impact of color on people’s image and how they look to other people. Especially in relationships with clients. The psychological impact of the choice of color can really change the dynamic of the communication flow and energy. Color has such a subconscious impact. Based on what your goal is in the relationship, you have to choose your outfit color.
So, ask yourself :
Do I want to:
- Build trust and credibility; then blue is best.
- Create a friendly & approachable atmosphere – choose lighter colors such as mid-tone blues and greens, blue-greens and teal, tan and peachy-orange.
- Be assertive – red, but not too much because you can become aggressive.
- Be neutral – grey or beige will be a good choice.
- Professional with authority – dark blue or dark grey, which are the most known business-like colors and good for credibility when promoting your business, yet these could be too overpowering.
- It could be interesting to combine with others color or a color accessories.
Many studies prove that dressing formally increases your confidence. Let’s see how this pandemic time has changed the perception of confidence and trusted relationships, even if you are negotiating a business deal.
As the world changed, our perception changed. It is interesting to observe the next trend in our work environment and professional relationships.
Finally, we dictate the next step trend. It is important to be honest and admit how we feel better and more productive. Please leave your comments. Which makes you feel better? I think the stigma of formal style linked with performance and credibility will be dissolved. We already live in a socially distant society, for the moment, so there could be a hidden need to compensate with a casual outfit. It is a way to communicate that we are more relaxed, and distance is created through that formalism. Do we need to accept our new formal attire shapes the way we broke the social distance impact?
In conclusion, follow 3 tips to transform your Zoom meetings into professional and authentic relationships.
- Feel good in your skin, automatically in your clothes.
- Choose wisely the colors of your outfit.
- Dare to let go the formalism and find your unique, comfortable, and professional style.
When we are authentic, assume our choices, we influence others and build trust and connection. This is the new eLAWvated lawyer, Zoom style.