How to Be Professional When You Work From Home
Sometimes I don’t change out of my pajamas. There are times that I participate in a video meeting wearing a nice shirt with workout pants. Because I work from home, it’s easy for me to be in a situation where things don’t look professional. Sometimes I even feel sloppy and unprofessional.
Even when you work from home, though, you need to portray a degree of professionalism. Clients and others might suspect that you’ve got a mess a few feet away and that you’re in your pajamas, but you don’t want them to know.
Here are some of the ways I portray professionalism, even though I work from home:
Professional Phone and Email Demeanor
It’s easiest to portray professionalism when no one can see you. I like to use business phone etiquette when I interact with others on the phone. One of the easiest ways for me to answer the phone is to say, “This is Miranda” in my most professional voice. Because I don’t have a separate business line (despite having the glories of setting a business number through Google explained to me), I need to make sure that I answer the phone in a way that sounds professional.
I also try to be professional in my other communications, including email. Read through your emails before hitting send. You want to come across as professional, even if you are sitting at home in your PJs, sipping wine after a long day.
Clean Up for Video
When I am on video, I make an effort to show an area of my office that is cleaned up. I adjust the camera angle. I do a check to make sure that it’s neat and tidy. I try to keep away from showing clutter. I want to look professional when I’m in a meeting. Sometimes I clean up when I’m recording video for a podcast, but most of the time I don’t mind a little more of a natural looking space for those types of videos because they are supposed to be candid.
I also clean myself up for video — at least the part people see. I put on makeup and do my hair. And I put on a top that looks professional. That way, my interactions look professional, and I even look like I might be sitting in a more traditional office.
When meeting in person, I make it a point to go off-site. I work from home, but I don’t people actually coming to my house. I know some freelancers and others who don’t mind having meetings at their homes, but I prefer to meet elsewhere. I’m happy to meet for lunch, or go to a conference room in a coworking space.
Meeting off-site is a good way to maintain your professionalism when you work from home. Of course, it also means that you have to get dressed to leave the house.
Maintaining a professional image as a freelancer is important if you want clients to feel comfortable working with you. While some clients might not mind if you are laid back, you do want to make sure you are as professional as possible when you work from home.