should I ask an employee to dress more professionally on video calls?

Work: still stressful, still weird. Here, some questions I’ve received recently about the new conditions we’re working with now:

Should I ask an employee to dress more professionally on video calls?

I am lucky to be able to work remotely during this crisis, which means multiple Zoom or Teams calls each day. I lead a team at a fairly conservative employer, and one of my employees shows up in a baseball hat and hoodie for every team meeting. He and I have discussed his attire in the office in the past, specifically the need to dress more professionally, but during this time I’m reluctant to ask him to dress more professionally on these calls. Is my instinct correct?

Yes. Working from home isn’t a perk for most people right now; it’s something we’re doing because we have to, often without the right equipment or support to do it well. Your team may be working out of cramped studio apartments, sharing space with family members, caring for young kids, stressing about loved ones, trying to manage their mental health … it’s not a cushy situation. Focusing on what people are wearing during this risks coming across as out of touch and like your priorities are in the wrong place. Let people be as comfortable as they can be while they’re stuck at home.

And, really, does it matter? I’m not convinced it ever mattered, but truly who cares if he’s in a hoodie at a team meeting given all that’s going on? It doesn’t affect his work. If he were videoconferencing with clients, it might be more of a concern — although, even then, most people realize whomever they’re talking to probably isn’t working in optimal conditions. If we’re okay with kid noise in the background and cats suddenly showing up onscreen — and we need to be at the moment — it doesn’t make sense to take issue with a baseball cap or a hoodie.

When and how do I tell my boss I’m pregnant when we’re working remotely?

Next week, I’ll be 12 weeks pregnant, the typical time to announce your pregnancy to those around you. But how do I tell my boss I’m pregnant while I’m working remotely with no end in sight? By the time I return to the office, I will likely be visibly pregnant, and it will be noticeable to everyone. Do I have to call my boss and tell him over Zoom? Do I wait until we return to the office? How do I handle this?

It’s up to you! If you want to share the news now, it’s fine to do it over email, or by phone or Zoom the next time you’re talking to him about something else. Or you can set up a special call with him just for this. You should use whatever method feels right to you; they’re all fine!

If you’d prefer to wait, that’s okay too. But if you’re not back at work by the time your boss would need to start factoring your maternity leave into project planning, you might end up needing to use one of the methods above anyway. (If your boss is a decent person, though, he’ll be happy for you and glad to hear the news.)


I’m stuck on lengthy Zoom meetings when I need to be working

Now that we’re all remote, my team has been having frequent two- or three-hour meetings with the boss and others (on Zoom, but without cameras), and this has been causing me a lot of stress. Any contribution I have to make will be in the first hour and then the meetings usually degenerate in the second hour to just a dialogue between the boss and another person. Meanwhile, my inbox fills and work goes undone.

I am an introverted, technical person who needs my full focus for most tasks. I find these meetings mentally and emotionally exhausting and of little use. Is there a diplomatic way to exit these types of meetings after the first hour?

If your boss is reasonable, you should be able to duck out when the meeting has clearly moved on from the topics you’re involved with. The next time you’re talking to your boss, say this: “Is it okay if I jump off of calls like X and Y when we’re done with the parts of the agenda that involve me? We’ve been having pretty long meetings where the last half ends up being about topics like (examples), and I don’t feel right staying on for another hour or more when I have so much work waiting for me.”

Alternately, you can try speaking up in the moment when you can tell you’re no longer needed: “I think we’ve moved on from the topics you need me for, and I could use the time for (project). Okay if I jump off?”

Can I be laid off while I’m on maternity leave?

I’m six months pregnant and work at a nonprofit. We’re still open and working from home, but I know that a lot of donors are giving less and some are even trying to back out of previously promised funds. Additionally, we had to cancel a big annual event that gains a sizable amount of our yearly donations. It’s been a hectic couple of weeks, and my workload has increased a lot, and I have been thinking of my maternity leave as the light at the end of the tunnel. But now, with everything going on, I was wondering, Could I be laid off during my maternity leave if things continue to go south for the org?

And if I were to be laid off, what would happen? How suddenly would I lose access to FMLA/pay? I’m really hoping that it does not happen, but with things changing rapidly every day, I want to prepare.

I wish I had a different answer for you, but you can indeed be laid off while you’re on maternity leave. The reason you’re laid off can’t be because you’re on maternity leave, but if the organization decides to eliminate your position, they can move forward with that even when you’re on leave.

How soon you’d lose access to your benefits and pay depends on how your employer chooses to do things. Some employers have layoffs take effect immediately and others give more notice. Some cover people’s health insurance for a period of time, and others don’t. Most employers offer severance when they’re laying people off (as opposed to firing them, when they might not), although the reality is that some genuinely don’t have the money to offer it right now.

One thing to know is that you can always try negotiating things like more severance or longer health-insurance coverage. Your employer might not be able to provide them given the circumstances, but it’s reasonable to ask.

Originally published at New York Magazine.

{ 323 comments… read them below }

  1. Lynn*

    I think Alison’s answer is spot on. Someone else said it better on facebook but to paraphrase: “it’s not working from home, it’s working while at home during a crisis.” These are not normal times and if the behavior isn’t disruptive or inconsiderate, it can probably slide.

    1. Lady Commentariat*

      There’s also the fact that not everyone has access to a washer and dryer in their home/apt/building so folks may be putting off going to a laundromat for social distancing reasons.

      1. Mama Bear*


        IMO unless it’s terribly inappropriate for public viewing (like pjs or lingerie) then I’d let it slide.

          1. Lady Jay*

            Hello my teddy has come to office hours on Zoom before. Not all of us have pets we can show off! :)

            1. Mel*

              A “teddy” does not always refer to a teddy bear. A teddy is another term for lingerie that looks like a bathing suit.

            2. Gaia*

              Omg I laughed so hard at this because I’m pretty sure the previous poster meant lingerie and I’m pretty sure you mean teddy bear lol

              1. Koala dreams*

                I didn’t even know the lingerie meaning, I was so c0nfused. Thanks for clearing that up! Agree that lingerie – not okay, plushie – okay.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I remember just before Covid 19 Alison had a post from someone who was working from home in their dragon onesie, complete with head and tail, completely forgot, and answered a video chat from their boss. Now the dragon onesie probably doesn’t even get a spit take.

      2. Liz*

        This….i’ve had to resort to my complex laundry rooms and machines which Ireally despise but i can do it while i work vs. going to the laundromat at 6am BEFORE work.

      3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Also, if their regular work clothes are dry clean only, they may not want to leave the house and to go to the dry cleaners (if they are even open) and they may not have much between dry clean only suits and scruffy weekend clothes depending on how they usually dress when not at work.

        I’m pretty sure my stepdad owns pretty much nothing between suits for work and t-shirts with beer/motorcycle themes for at home, some of them with bonus paint smears and/or holes. (Well, he also owns plenty of motorcycle leathers, but that’s probably not an improvement for work video calls.)

    2. Clorinda*

      What about the newscaster who was on TV without pants, though? There has to be a line somewhere.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        As long as the newscaster *stays seated* the viewing audience will be none the wiser.
        As for the newscaster’s colleagues…? It’s possible that “without pants” means “wearing yoga pants, ballet tights, leggings, flannel PJ bottoms, athletic shorts, or even ‘only a slip because I forgot my skirt.’ ” In other words, it could be mildly inappropriate but a few degrees short of downright Not Safe For Work.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          This is a reference to something that literally happened this week, on national news. Dude was wearing a dress shirt and jacket, but the camera angle showed probably more than he thought it did. Obviously not wearing pants.

          1. Pomona Sprout*

            It was really funny, and he handled it brilliantly on his twitter by poking fun at himself and laughing along with everyone who tweeted at him about it. I was impressed!

  2. Sara without an H*

    If the hoody is clean, and the baseball cap is free of offensive slogans, I would let it go.

    1. MK*

      Yes, I think the “professionally dressed” bar needs to be higher (or lower) for the manager to be justified in correcting it. I would object to an employee looking dirty, clothes with holes, anything that reads as pyjamas, too revealing etc., but if it’s simply too casual, let it go.

        1. OOW*

          I wouldn’t care about political slogans as long as the politics weren’t of the alt-right or tankie variety.

          1. FunctionallyDysfunctional*

            you can’t pick a political side you are okay with people showing. Left wing and Alt Right are equivalent.

            1. Lavender Menace*

              …no, they are not equivalent. “Left wing” refers to pretty much anything left of center, which ould be relatively moderate/centrist or could be extreme. The more conservative equivalent of “left wing” is “right wing.”

              “Alt right” is an abbreviation for “alternative right,” which is much more narrow. It is defined as a far-right, white nationalist movement (by the people who are in it). There’s not really a liberal/left-wing equivalent of the alt-right movement (not in the U.S., at least), but when I say equivalent, I am in taking into account not just beliefs but also political and social power and awareness.

    2. MusicWithRocksIn*

      My feeling is as long as the hair under the baseball cap looks clean. It is such an odd thing to wear at home, I just wonder if it’s trying to cover up unwashed hair. Which would be fine, as long as it doesn’t look like it’s just there to cover up unwashed hair.

      1. HR Exec Popping In*

        I’m finding lots of men are wearing ball caps on video these days. I think it is because of the inability to get a professional haircut.

        1. halfmanhalfshark*

          This 100%. My husband wears a baseball cap during video meetings for this exact reason. He hasn’t had a haircut in two months.

        2. Mama Bear*

          Could be. My state is only allowing haircuts if you have proof that it’s part of the dress code.

        3. Veronique*

          This is 100% the reason. My boss’s fluffy hair is amazing, he keeps trying to flatten it subconsciously.

          1. Liz*

            Hahaha. my BF has straight hair and is QUITE put out that not only is it too long since he hasn’t gotten a haircut in a while, but turning grayer. He’s not a young, not old either but is not happy about that whole situation at all

            1. AnotherAlison*

              My husband has the straightest, finest hair that grows straight up. He looks like a dandelion. Well, a dandelion that has some missing fluff. My sons have wavy hair. They’re overgrown too, but it’s not as comedic. I am ready for the younger one to quit doing the skater flip to move his bangs, though.

              1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                Lol – I had to order hair clippies for both of my girls because of bangs in the eyes (they have decided that the shutdown is the perfect excuse to get rid of their hated bangs).

        4. blackcat*


          My husband desperately needs a haircut, but after seeing what I did to our son’s hair, he won’t let me near him with scissors. I keep telling him that his ability to sit still is infinitely greater than the toddler’s, so it will come out better but no dice.

          1. Helena1*

            Ha, we have the opposite problem. I made a fairly good job of my toddler’s haircut, but he has very curly moptop hair so any wonkiness is well-hidden.

            Now my husband with his dead straight fade wants me to trim his hair too, and there is zero chance I can manage that.

        5. Gaia*

          I’m not a guy but my hair grows ridiculously fast (about an inch a month) so it has been pulled back in a messy bun for every video call. My hair is a beast when properly maintained. It is so far beyond right now.

        6. Now in the Job*

          Very good friend of mine has been wearing a baseball gap religiously because her bangs have grown to that long awkward stage where they are constantly in her face and she can’t tuck them behind her ears. Because she’s been working on site at a testing location (not involved at all with the testing, but there doing support work) and everyone is VERY FASTIDIOUS about touching…she didn’t want to get caught constantly brushing her bangs away from her face next to someone getting into full PPE and then handling their food.

          I started to get to that point and just shaved my head, but I understand that is not something most women are willing to do on the fly! XD

          1. Cinnamon*

            I’ve been wanting to get a pixie haircut for so long and the fact that I don’t own clippers (& not willing to buy them because they aren’t essential) is the only reason I have not buzzed the sides or given myself an undercut.

          2. Joielle*

            Haha same. I already had clippers at home and was kind of looking for an excuse to shave it all off anyways. I’m so glad to be able to maintain my own hair, it would be driving me nuts if it was just steadily getting shaggier!

          3. Seeking Second Childhood*

            My longs are past the baseball cap stage and on to pulling it all back with a bandana. I’m so very glad my office doesn’t use the videofeed.

          4. allathian*

            Same here, I’m constantly touching my face to get my bangs out of my eyes. I can’t tuck them behind my ears yet.

        7. Falling Diphthong*

          +1 Teenager is wearing a baseball cap for this reason.

          My inability to cut hair was established in his toddler years, so he and his dad have to cut each other’s hair, cut their own hair, wait it out, or somehow involve our cat.

        8. PlainJane*

          I’m finding all of this kind of amusing. I was a child in the early 70s, and no one looks particularly shaggy to me yet! :D (I’d almost always like to see everyone’s hippie hair instead of a baseball cap, fwiw.)

      2. Needs a Haircut*

        I would definitely need to wear some sort of hat if I had Zoom meetings right now. I was a little overdue for a haircut when the lockdowns started, and it has grown into an uncontrollable mess. No amount of product and blow-drying can tame it. I don’t want to shave it all off, so hats are the only solution. I suspect that’s the case for a decent number of Zoom-meeting-hat-wearers.

      3. Reality.Bites*

        My boyfriend wears a baseball cap nearly full time. I don’t know why. I’m the bald one.

      4. Research manager*

        My former roommate (female) had thinning hair and would often wear a baseball cap around the house to cover it up. She had hair powder and sometimes clip-in extensions that she would use that covered it up pretty effectively, but these took time to do properly and she often preferred just wearing a hat, even if she wasn’t leaving the house. Since thinning hair is less common in women she felt self-conscious about it and preferred to to have hers visible in its natural state most of the time. She worked from home full-time normally pre-pandemic, but usually only had voice calls, not video.

      5. Sara without an H*

        If my hair salon doesn’t reopen soon, I’ll be in a baseball cap myself. Or a turban. Something. Anything!

        1. nonegiven*

          IDK what I can do. The people at the Walmart, 50 miles away, hair shop was my stylist, it was always drop in. The state said we can get haircuts now, but by appointment only. My hair is sticking up.

        2. Anne of Green Gables*

          My Grand-Boss has been using scarves wrapped around her hair. Each meeting she will have a different one wrapped in a different way.

        3. Lavender Menace*

          Yeah, I desperately need a haircut and I’ve started wearing more head wraps. I’m black and I wore head wraps before the pandemic, so it’s nothing really jarring or different, but it does help on the days I don’t feel like messing with my hair to make it look nice. Damn it, the whole reason I cut it was so I didn’t have to fuss with it!

      6. Lavender Menace*

        Why would it matter whether the hair under the cap is dirty or not?

        If the point of the cap is to hide unwashed hair, and it’s effectively covering it up, then I’m not sure how I would know. Would I ask the employee to take off their hat so I can check whether their hair is clean?

        I am certain that this is because I work with tech workers who do not really interact with clients, but I couldn’t care less about whether or not my employees’ hair is clean. Some of them are struggling just to keep their families above water right now.

    3. White Peonies*

      I can see asking to remove the cap, but let them wear whatever they want. My new work uniform is yoga pants, and no yank tank tops, and sadly my husband who doesn’t do video calls has only put on pants and a shirt when he has to.

    4. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      I’d add that if the cap is casting his face into shadow and it’s important for team members to be able to see each others’ faces, OP could ask for him to either take off the cap or adjust the lighting situation somehow. Otherwise leave it. I’m a teacher at a school with a uniform, but since we went to remote learning the dress code is simply “not your pajamas” – and that’s mostly to make the kids feel like they’re in a sort of “daytime mode” instead of on a loooooong weekend.

  3. Lemon Hurl*

    Layoff during maternity leave. You can also be laid off when out on disability leave. Happened to my manager while he was off recovering from back surgery.
    It sucked for him, but was also suckie for me as I got to packup his office and mail this stuff to him.

    1. The Original K.*

      Yeah, when the team I was on was laid off, one of us was on maternity leave (her baby was a month or so old). It sucks but it’s legal.

    2. Artemesia*

      My daughter was laid off on maternity leave when they closed her office in an austerity move; it sucked because they had plenty of business that she had generated but the overall management was catastrophically bad and so they closed a couple of regional audience and took their projects back to the badly managed center.

    3. OP #4*

      That’s what I was worried about but hoped not.

      A new update, we all experienced salary cuts and mine is pretty significant. The regular salaries are rumored to be reinstated right around the time that I go on leave, does anyone know what that’ll mean for my leave pay? Or where I can find the resources to understand it? I’m based in Southern California.

      1. Witty Nickname*

        With the caveat that it’s been 7 years since my last maternity leave, the way it worked when I went on maternity leave (also in SoCal) is that they went back to the full quarter prior to your leave, then looked back 12 months from there and used your highest earning quarter to calculate your disability pay for the leave.

        1. Witty Nickname*

          (assuming you got a salary cut and were not laid off. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how it would work while on unemployment).

    4. Natalie*

      If letter writer is laid off during maturity leave, they may be eligible for unemployment benefits also. It would be up to the state to ultimately make that determination. We can’t really know what UI benefits are going to look like in the coming months. A lot could change between now and then.

  4. dealing with dragons*

    How topical! I am currently braless and in a sweatshirt and trying to hide my five month pregnant belly. I was luckily able to tell my manager in person before everything, but haven’t told my teams yet (I am a product owner for two agile teams). I’m honestly not sure how to bring it up to them or even the department at large. In normal times it would be pretty obvious but it feels weird to slip into the end of convos oh btw I’m pregnant good luck in September suckas. I was actually going to ask about it on Friday!

    Also I don’t even know where to get good maternity clothes now…trying to save money as my salary was cut 10% so I don’t want to order things online and have to ship back etc. Very glad nobody cares that I wear the same three sweatshirts constantly. Alison’s advice here is spot on…we have a million other things to worry about other than if our coworkers like our shirts.

    1. Susie Q*

      Old Navy and Gap have cheap/decent maternity clothes. They also have free shipping and free returns. You can even schedule a package pickup for free from USPS.

      1. Shopper*

        Would not recommend Old Navy right now. I ordered something 2 or 3 weeks ago and it will not ship for another month (which of course they did not tell me at the time of purchase…)

      2. Triumphant Fox*

        I’ve had to order all my toddler’s summer wardrobe online, when I usually consign for him, so we’ve had several old navy/gap shipments. Some things have been very slow, but others have arrived quickly. I would look in the activewear section for ON too – lots of flowy tanks and I just bought a sweatshirt that looks a lot like a maternity/nursing one I had (open but can button up at the shoulders) and loved. Way cheaper than maternity.

        I lived in Maxi dresses because I couldn’t have any bands on my stomach for months (no pants, leggings etc.) and I wanted to hide my compression socks and tennis shoes (which I wore for comfort and to help the swelling, but I think helped my size 10 feet not grow – worth it). I bought all the maxi dresses on Amazon – they were weird work attire (I had a mostly winter pregnancy) but I got a ton of compliments on them and I always looked put together. I purchased solids mostly and chose higher necked ones because otherwise I looked very…ample for work. Dresses have the benefit of being one item=one outfit and they were super comfy.

        If you’re looking for bras etc. I would recommend some of the sleep bras and the medela nursing line at target – they held up really well and I wore them for a solid year during nursing (unless you don’t plan to nurse, in which case I’d stick with stretchy fabric bras). I bought some of the crossover stretchy ones from Amazon too. I still wear them to lounge but the sizing was bizarre.

    2. Cookie Monster*

      hey-I am painfully frugal and when I was pregnant, didn’t want to spend a ton of money on maternity clothes that I would wear for a few months only-I bought on Ebay in lots-so I spend $25 and get a bunch of stuff-I found a decent amount of work and casual stuff. I probably had about 10 outfits and spent maybe $200

      1. Dust Bunny*

        I did this for scrubs (veterinary assistant job; less strict than a nurse but we still had to have a specific color). And then when I changed jobs I turned around and sold the scrubs I still had.

    3. dryroasted*

      This is a very weird thing to say to an internet stranger, but I have lots of maternity clothes to get rid of. I am happy to send them to you for free. Maybe Alison can help us exchange email addresses? And congrats!!

    4. Environmental Compliance*

      I’ve seen maternity wear on ThredUp. I know some commentors haaaaaaaate when that store gets brought up, but I buy all my jeans there and spent <$5 a pair (which is great, because I destroy them. RIP my favorite pair of jeans as of yesterday :( ).

      Congrats on baby!!

      1. Rock Prof*

        I bought almost all my maternity clothes on thredup. It certainly wasn’t the height of fashion, but I got some reasonable basics that I rotated through.

      2. LunaLena*

        PoshMark also has lots of gently used maternity clothes. I did a quick search and found that some people sell in bundles – one person was offering three pairs of jeans, two sweaters, three t-shirts, a tank top, and a button down plaid shirt for $75 plus $7 shipping.

    5. sunny-dee*

      There are a lot of consignment stores specifically for maternity and baby items; I got several dresses there. I had a terrible time finding maternity jeans with enough stretch that wouldn’t slide down continually but Target and Old Navy both have several different styles (from small side panels to the full massive belly sock). Also, unless you just heart maternity styles, I ended up buying a handful of loose shirts that were just XL from Target and Old Navy (I did not like the really figure-hugging styles most maternity shirts have).

      If you want to keep it super basic, this was my total maternity wardrobe (with the asterisk that I work from home, so I could stay pretty casual):
      * Two pairs black leggings
      * 1 pair of jeans
      * 1 pair of dressy-ish shorts (XL not maternity)
      * 3 very nice church / work dresses
      * 1 denim shirt dress (LOVED THIS, WORE IT ALL THE TIME)
      * 1 cotton tshirt dress
      * 5 maternity tshirts
      * 2 dressy shirts

      Then I stole a lot of pj bottoms from my husband for sleeping and lounging.

      That’s my entire wardrobe that I used for 2 pregnancies. Everything came from Target, Old Navy, TJ Maxx, or consignment and nothing cost more than about $30 (most less).

      1. Artemesia*

        I bought two nice mix and match outfits for professional use when I was pregnant and I did have to be in the office and doing presentations etc. And then I got by mostly with maternity jeans with big shirts mostly not maternity — just big shirts. The professional jackets/tops/slacks were in neutral colors and I used scarfs for a little color variety and just lived with a limited wardrobe.

      2. dealing with dragons*

        I am super quarantined because nobody knows what this disease does to fetuses in the first and second trimesters. It’s probably fine but I’m trying not to risk it. I bought pants (luckily) before everything so I have that covered, but no maternity bras and I won’t have shirts that really fit in a couple months. Was hoping to just do dresses all summer lol

        1. sunny-dee*

          That’s why I loved my denim dress — it could dress up or down, I wore it in summer for pregnancy #1 and winter (with tights) for pregnancy #2.

          My chest changed sizes so dramatically / quickly, I ended up just wearing sports bras for most of my pregnancy. I got those at Target, just regular stretchy bras in a large size. Then I mixed those in with nursing bras post-pregnancy.

        2. blackcat*

          When I was nursing, I bought tons of basic faux wrap dresses. Amazon has a ton. Most would have worked well for pregnancy, too.

          I highly recommend combo maternity/nursing tops. I found I didn’t need maternity tops until like 28 weeks or so, so I wasn’t in them that long. But nice-ish nursing tops I wore for MUCH longer!

        3. A Social Worker*

          Not to derail, but did your OB tell you to quarantine? Mine did not seem concerned at all and declined to write me a note to allow me to work from home. Another woman at work who is also pregnant got a note from her doctor to work exclusively from home and she does not have any other health conditions (she told me this as she was upset that I was still working in office). I have also had employees with significant health concerns (severe asthma, etc.) call their doctors who then refused to write a note saying they should work from home. I’m frustrated that the response seems to different depending on the doctor.

          1. dealing with dragons*

            she did, and she’s concerned due to several other health concerns I have. The major concern is that we just don’t know yet. Babies who have been born during this so far all started in the third trimester so we don’t know what it does yet to earlier babies. I’m trying to avoid becoming a case study in medical literature lol

            1. JSPA*

              Report from China that stretch to 1st and 2nd trimester, now. Not as complete as it could be, in terms of fetal health, but if there had been dramatic effects, that would likely have been mentioned. Will link.

            2. Amy Sly*

              My sister had hers two weeks ago. When this started becoming a big deal a couple months ago, her coworkers would say “I bet you wish he were out now!” and my sister’s response was “No! He’s safer in there than out here!”

      3. Dagny*

        My maternity wardrobe was also very small:
        *One pair maternity capris for working out
        *Several larger-size t-shirts for working out – not maternity, just bigger and bought for $10
        *One maternity sweatshirt
        *One pair black trouser maternity pants
        *Five maternity dresses
        *Two maternity sweaters appropriate for work

    6. Megumin*

      There are a lot of super cheap oversized tees and stretchy yoga pants on Amazon that can work as maternity clothes. That’s what I did when I was pregnant – and they still looked decent enough to wear into my casual office (also it was summer so I was NOT going to wear anything fussy or uncomfortable). Typically the boot cut or straight leg yoga pants are looser around the belly. Also I found some jersey knit palazzo pants and culottes that were extremely generous in the belly so they fit me up until due date. Look fabric content that is 95% rayon/5% spandex for the super stretchy knit – it should last up through delivery. They’re not really high quality clothes, but they worked great for pregnancy and were inexpensive.

      1. Senor Montoya*

        Yes, this works online and in person. Yoga pants or leggings, big shirt or long- or 3/4 sleeve- t-shirt (I was pregnant in the winter, I had a lot of big tunic-y sweaters). Throw on a smashing big scarf and you’re stylin’!

        1. Megumin*

          With my first child, I was pregnant during the winter, so I did big sweaters, leggings, and boots. Never needed a single actual maternity item! Plus I just love big sweaters anyway, I still have most of them.

        1. Megumin*

          Black karate pants can be great when you need something that looks more like slacks, because of the cotton twill fabric. Just make sure you get the pull-on elastic waist kind – not the lace-up kind, otherwise you’ll have a hell of a time getting them off for all the urgent bathroom breaks!

    7. Never Sleeping Beauty*

      I work remotely already (joined a mostly remote company 18 months ago) and just had a baby in January. It was definitely weird to slip it in! I told my manager and HR around 12 weeks so we could get the ball rolling on my paperwork. And mostly to coworkers I slipped it in when it became relevant. Like, “Oh, I know I would normally be helping you with this event, but now that it’s time to start planning for it, this is a good time to let you know I’ll be out on maternity leave during that time.” Otherwise I didn’t make a formal announcement or anything; by the time I had her, the people who needed to know already knew, and everyone else found out when our HR lady made a formal birth announcement over email (as is traditional in my company).

    8. Shad*

      I’ve never worn them for maternity, but I’ve heard great things about Tara Lynn’s dresses and their ability to adapt to and from maternity use. They’re very true to size and there’s a great community on Facebook (under Tara Lynn’s boutique) that’s always happy to help with advice on styles and sizing.
      Plus, most of their dresses have fully functional pockets.

    9. Spero*

      Loft and Gap have good maternity lines that often benefit from their other promotions (ex 50% of sale etc). I picked up most of my wardrobe between them and just wore the same tops for work/casual.
      Also, Old Navy’s swing dresses, purchased in petite, are basically maternity tunics and great for over leggings. You can get them under $10 and the texture of the linen blend ones is especially nice

    10. Senor Montoya*

      I bought a lot of maternity clothes at Target. Alas, my favorite source will not be available to you right now: resale shops.

      Invest in a belly band — you can get those online. You don’t need it now, but you will. Helped my back soooo much.

      1. 2 Cents*

        I liked the belly band for giving me added coverage as shirts got shorter as my belly got larger.

    11. Cinnamon*

      My team has been doing themed zoom calls where we change our backgrounds and dress up if wanted. A few weeks ago was “baby pictures”, we went around and discussed what the picture was and at the end of it 2 co-workers announced their pregnancies with their sonogram pictures. We were all surprised and it was an easy transition to news.
      Does your team do a roundtable update? We use the first 10 minutes to check in with everyone and that’s usually where people have announced things.

      1. dealing with dragons*

        that’s actually a good idea! a lot of people use zoom backgrounds so that would be a fun way to let them know.

        we do daily standups but since I’m the product owner mine is more at the end and mostly things I need to let the team know from a business perspective. That’s probably where I’d announce but it still feels weird to be like “blah blah do your time sheets also I’m having a baby”

        1. kt*

          It’s totally fine :) If you want, you can say, “Blah blah do your time sheets and here is where I awkwardly insert that I’m having a baby so you’ll need to get your sh&* together yourselves haha”

    12. MusicWithRocksIn*

      I got all my maternity clothes on Thread Up for super cheap, and I got some really great pieces, some that I still wear. Would 100% recommend.

    13. Mama Bear*

      I lived in yoga pants with a belly band and baby doll/tunic shirts. You might also ask your neighbors if they have anything – news around here is that people are tossing a LOT because there’s nowhere to donate. Even our local Freeycle is necessary items only, so people are turning to local listservs.

      At what point does your company require you to do the FMLA paperwork (if you qualify)? That might be a good time to say, “Hey, baby coming. Let’s work on a transition plan/maternity leave plan.”

      Good luck and stay well.

      1. dealing with dragons*

        not until 30 days before the expected leave (if it’s something that can be expected) :)

      2. Mockingjay*

        Yes, please look into the FMLA paperwork. I took a month last year and I was the first person in the company to use it. HR had to figure out quite a few things and the process took a little longer than anticipated.

        IMPORTANT: I asked about how to pay my insurance premiums and 401k contributions while I was out. The finance department deducted two pay periods of premiums from my last paycheck (with my consent, of course). If you have insurance or retirement contributions, please find out how to keep those going if you need them.

    14. Ann O'Nemity*

      If you haven’t already been doing it, I recommend the hair tie maternity trick for your pants. You’ll get months more use of your pants, and no one will see it.

      1. dealing with dragons*

        I did that at first but I’m way beyond that. I got some black levis on amazon and went to a motherhood maternity store that was closing and got regular jeans. would have gotten shorts while I was there but apparently when you’re pregnant you only want to wear those really baggy shorts that go half way down your leg.

    15. OP #4*

      I’m seven months now, and I had originally thought I’d have to buy a whole bunch of stuff but I’ve mostly been living in three pairs of maternity leggings that a friend gave me and just wearing normal stretchy tops. Stretchy tops with a statement necklace if it’s an important meeting, haha.

      Also, if you have any wrap dresses, I can still wear mine since they are made for multiple sizes.

    16. Tufty the Traffic Safety Squirrel*

      Oh, Dealing with Dragons, this is entering into my mind as well! I’m 10 weeks pregnant now, and I expect I’ll start showing some time this summer. Most of my summer clothes are of the nicely-fitted type, rather than the billowy loose type, and I have no expectation that I’ll be able to wear them with a growing bump. I’m nervous about ordering stuff online because even without pregnancy being a factor, I have a damned hard-to-fit body shape.

      As far as telling people goes, I do expect to tell people at work before I start to show (starting with my boss and direct reports and closest peer colleagues), and may tell the team that indirectly reports to me via a Skype message, just to say, “hey, FYI, around Thanksgiving I will be having a baby. Your managers know this, and I’ll be working with them to make the time I’m out as painless as possible for them and you. Let me know if you have questions about how projects/policies/etc. will be handled.” And I doubt anyone will have a problem with whatever I happen to wear while I’m in the process of growing a tiny human.

      Congrats to you, and best of luck with everything!

    17. Third or Nothing!*

      As far as maternity clothes go: you might not even need to get any, depending on how your body responds to the pregnancy. With my daughter, I just hitched up my high-waisted stretchy skirts (comfiest clothes ever – highly recommend!) over the top of the bump and rode out the entire pregnancy like that. I don’t know how many stretchy clothes you have, but if you happen to have some skirts that could be worn in a high waist fashion with a blouse tucked in, I bet they would fit for at least another month, maybe longer. And if the blouse is tucked in, it doesn’t matter if the bottom portion of it doesn’t fit over the bump.

      I wonder if maybe a similar hack could work for black sweatpants/leggings – think it would look like a blouse tucked in to a high waist pair of pants on a video call? Or would that just emphasize the baby bump? Hmm…

        1. Queer Earthling*

          I just came in to say that I was imagining Cimorene posting this comment while pregnant with Daystar, and having to deal with Zoom meetings with Morwen and Kazul.

          ….I suppose all the magic mirrors were magic webcams, huh?

    18. Malarkey01*

      So much is body type specific, but a few sundresses without a waist in the next size up worked my whole 9 months, and the lovely first few months after baby. The can be paired with a cardigan as it gets cooler. The other bonus is maternity clothes have a big mark up, but a larger size of normal outfits don’t.

      Also, most pregnant women where the same outfits over and over because it’s hard to spend money on clothes you’ll wear only 2-3 months (by 9 months I wore what was once a beach coverup but was clearly a mumu for the 2 weeks before I went into early labor)

    19. Candi is Dandy*

      See if you have a neighborhood freebox or freecycle page/site. You can post an “in search of” (ISO). Since many second hand shops are not open or accepting donations right now, your neighbors may have stuff they would like to pass on. I see a lot of clothing/baby stuff/household goods. In my neighborhood, at least, most items are picked up with no contact by leaving on door steps/porches.

    20. MsSolo*

      I’m in month seven now, and I’ve got by with one pair of maternity jeans, one pair of dungarees, and dresses I already own. Most of my t-shirts and jumpers have proved stretchy enough to fit over the bump so far (because it might be May, but I’m sat in my home office contemplating a fourth layer today!). Post-birth I figure I’m going to mostly live in pyjamas anyway, so I’m not worrying about buying too far ahead until I have a better sense of what my body shape will be. 38GG nursing bras are not cheap enough to buy speculatively!

    21. SwingingAxeWolfie*

      Hi there fellow pregnant person – 4 months here! I passed the 12 week mark just after lockdown started. I’d told my boss just after we started working from home (in the UK pregnant women were told to be especially careful so I thought it was worth mentioning), then the rest of the team after the scan, starting with one:ones with my direct reports, then I messaged a couple of others privately if I was close enough/felt it was slightly more relevant for them to know. Then I’ve been telling people as and when it comes up in calls etc – it comes up quite organically as quite a few have kids so I just throw in “I’m expecting one of my own actually!”

      Turns out I’m quite a private person – I told my family in person at the beginning of March and felt *very* overwhelmed by their enthusiasm – but telling colleagues has been an absolute joy. People are genuinely really happy for me and have commented how lovely it is to hear news like this with everything else going on. Others were a bit more awkward (probably the way I reacted to pregnancies before – just a “urm, congrats!” and then not knowing what else to say), but it doesn’t dampen anything. It’s awkward knowing that the next time you see them you’ll look so visibly different, but there’s time and space now to tell people in your own way at your own time too.

      Echoing the maternity clothes dilemma – right now I’m making do with my partner’s boxer shorts (so comfortable!!) and baggy T shirts, but I’ll need to sort something soon.

  5. That'll happen*

    I’d question whether or not these meetings need to be on video at all. Is it really adding anything to your conversation, or is it a way to spy on your employees?

    1. Lana Kane*

      That’s a big conclusion jump, that it’s a way to spy on people.

      I personally find it much easier to have conversations when I can pick up facial cues from people. I find everyone also talks over each other less when those visual cues are there. Depending on the nature of the meeting, it can be valuable.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        Yes, my team is finding that having at least some of our calls be over video is helpful in feeling like we’re all in sync. Not everyone is on video for the entirety of every call, but going for weeks or months without being “face to face” with our closest coworkers doesn’t work well for us. I know some remote teams manage it, and that’s great for them, but it’s too out of sync with the collaborative workplace culture we had when we were all in the office together.

      2. That'll happen*

        That’s fair, and as soon as I submitted my comment I realized that maybe I jumped too far. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve only had one on one calls with my manager and we’ve been going over projects, so audio + screen sharing has been sufficient.

      3. Dust Bunny*

        We insist on video because, yes, it’s easier to read faces. But our meetings are short and infrequent, so it’s fine, even though none of us particularly like it. Being on video probably helps keep them short and infrequent, honestly.

      4. Mike C.*

        Tons of folks get plenty of things done in an efficient manner without having a video camera stuck in their face.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          And some folks like being able to see other people because it helps them feel more connected and can be fun. My team has generally been enjoying using video chat because we like being able to see each other, and it’s fun when people’s cats or dogs or kids wander by to say hi. It eases the loneliness of quarantine a bit for us.

      5. Seeking Second Childhood*

        From a chat call with old old friends, we’ve already started raising our hands like we’re back in school. Sure Zoom has a button to click, but as long as there’s only 6 of us and video is on, a real raised hand is oh so visible.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          My Zoom calls now are various cancer support sessions, and we have adopted raised hands. Plus thumbs up to indicate “yup, everyone can hear you.” And waving when people join late or have to leave early.

          And I really feel the loss of the in-person stuff–this isn’t as good. But it’s something at a time when the other options are not available.

          1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            I do a lot of big gesturing to replace the murmurs of agreement/confusion/etc. and other minor vocalizations on video calls. I ham it up like I’m on stage and they need to be able to see it from the cheap seats, and it works pretty well to get those secondary communication channels through on a video call where actually vocalizing like that would make it harder to understand the main speaker. Of course, I’m a known theater person and general ham, so this may not be a strategy that would work well for others. Pretty much everyone will at least do exaggerated head shakes and thumbs ups, though.

            I also spent the past weekend at a virtual music festival, and they’ve adopted the Deaf-community gesture for applause for similar reasons. (This particular music community already has a reasonable familiarity with that convention since enough of the concerts are signed in general that we’ve all seen it before, so it was pretty reasonable for everyone to just adopt it now.)

            1. allathian*

              We have a rule that only the person actually speaking has the mic open, everyone else is muted. Keeps extra noises to a minimum. I have minor hearing loss that means I have a hard time understanding people in a noisy environment, and my closest coworker has moderate hearing loss to the point that he needs hearing aids, so that’s one accommodation I really appreciate.

      6. Falling Diphthong*

        Back in ye olden days pre-Covid, I appreciated that my work calls were never video and disdained video podcasts of someone sitting in front of a computer against a dull background.

        Now I’m like “Look, a person!” *waves* *moves cat*

    2. sssssssssssssssssssssssss*

      Agreed. Only our weekly check-in with the entire team – oh, hey! I remember who you are now! LOL – is the only meeting with video and only if the bandwidth can allow it. So the video option turns on and off throughout the meeting. You can still be plenty productive with just voice conference calls and frankly, I find that less distracting.

    3. spock*

      Of course visual communication adds something to conversations! The dynamics and focus levels are totally different. Plus if you’re trying to have any kind of group meeting, it’s already chaotic over video with the lag and making it into a group phone call sounds horrible.

    4. Sarah*

      I never thought I would say this – but I 100% prefer video calls. Agree with Lana Kane, it is easier to pick up facial cues. But also find it does help to stay connected.

      1. Chili*

        Yes! I understand completely why people are resistant to video calls and sometimes it isn’t necessary. BUT it can be pretty difficult to present something when you have no way to gauge reactions. In person, if I say something and I see a teammate’s eyes widen, I can tell I said something unexpected or surprising and can delve more deeply into that point. Video calls aren’t a perfect replica of that due to lag and such, but it’s better than when everyone is listening in without out video and muted (so we don’t hear background noise). It’s really easy to ramble or rush over things without some sort of feedback.

        1. Grits McGee*

          Yes- I didn’t realize until we switched over from in-person to phone meetings how much I relied on facial expressions and eye contact to shape my spiel when giving information. (Esp information that people aren’t thrilled to be getting!)

      2. Sparrow*

        For smaller groups, I prefer video calls. For more than like 5 people, I’m finding audio preferable. I was in an excruciatingly long video meeting yesterday with about 12 other people, so I barely spoke and, in fact, spent most of the time listening to 2-3 people argue with each other. I was working on other stuff, but having to look semi-engaged the whole time was not fun.

      3. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

        Ugh, I hate video calls. Cameras don’t like me, and I feel very self-conscious about my appearance and expressions the whole time.

        1. Stormy Weather*

          Same here. I feel like an idiot staying in eye contact with the camera when I want to be looking at the person I’m talking to. and then there’s my ugly mug in the corner distracting me. Video calls don’t make me feel more connected at all.

    5. Oh No She Di'int*

      What?? Spy on them?! Because there’s some great advantage to knowing precisely how many cats your employees have?

      1. That'll happen*

        My main thought was people that might be embarrassed about their living situation, though I know many of the videoconferencing software options have backgrounds one can choose. I admit I jumped to a bit of a conclusion.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        My cats are concealing this information. One attends my meetings downstairs and the other handles my husband’s meetings upstairs.

        1. Koala dreams*

          That’s great, you have enough cats to cover all the meetings. This makes me smile! :D

    6. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I don’t think it’s needed all the time, but I’ve been on plenty of calls where people are multi-tasking and have to be asked multiple times to answer a question because they’re not listening. Video calls usually curb that behavior.

    7. Junior Assistant Peon*

      My company’s culture is to just do voice calls with no video. Recently, a call I thought was going to be voice only had cameras defaulted on, and I was in a panic trying to figure out how to turn my camera off because I was shirtless and had a bad case of bed head. The organizer admitted to me afterward that this was an unintended result of our telecon software being updated.

      1. Mama Bear*

        We also mostly do voice only, but often use Teams to show screens/share presentations.

        There’s value to seeing faces, but it really depends on the team and the reason for the meeting.

      2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I keep a sticker over my camera and remove it when I’m using video on purpose. This can keep those little “surprise video” incidents to a minimum. (I have a trade show giveaway “phone cleaning” sticker I use for this because my work laptop is a 2-in-1 tablet with a gloss finish, but when I had a more normal laptop a post-it note worked fine.)

    8. CupcakeCounter*

      Our team meetings weren’t originally video meetings but by the time the 3rd week came around people were popping them on at random and eventually we all defaulted to video for the team or one on one stuff. Just missed that connection and since we are a newer team (I’ve only been with the company since January and my boss made Director about 6 months ago) making those connections and getting to know one another has been good – especially since this will be going on for quite a while longer. They are placing huge restrictions on return to work for those who can easily WFH – I will be one of the last ones brought back in since I don’t work directly with the cross-functional teams like they all do.

  6. Lana Kane*

    One thing to remember about caps, hats, etc, is that they are likely hiding hair that is badly in need of a haircut. Those with long enough hair have the option to pull it back, but if it’s in a weird in-between stage, forget it.

    I’ve been finding it amusing to see people who are normally spiffy dressers in the office show up in Webex meetings in caps and sweatshirts. :)

    1. NowI'mHungry*

      Exactly!! I’d be mortified if anyone from my team saw me and my mini-mullet right now #pixiecutproblems

    2. Choggy*

      I love seeing my coworkers casual, it makes them more human somehow. And everyone is wearing the same thing, not one person is in business casual attire. I am all for doing what makes me feel comfortable during very uncomfortable times.

      1. HR Exec Popping In*

        Seeing people in casual clothing, in their homes and with kids or animals making appearances has been the best part of social distancing. I feel like we are able to experience each other a little more authentically in those moments even though it is just over video.

    3. juliebulie*

      Right, and it’s not a great time to go to the dry cleaners’ either, so you can expect to see easy-care garments.

      1. Emelle*

        This was my thought as well. The dry cleaner I trust is on very limited public hours because they don’t have a drive thru. I have 6 weeks to get my daughter’s orchestra dress dry cleaned and returned to school and I am not going to make the trip before I have to.

      2. Coverage Associate*

        My dry cleaners has been closed for 6 weeks with 2 of my suits locked inside.

        1. Sally*

          My beloved dry cleaner & tailor is closing for good in May. It’s so sad! It’s been a family company for at least 2 generations.

    4. TheOtherJennifer*

      and if the call is internal only (no customers), then as long as everyone’s decent, I’d let it go.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      My son and husband, both reaching the shaggy stage, debated the merits of the man-bun. Teenager flatly refuses to consider it.

  7. Everdene*

    The more dressed down approach to work wear is a topic on conversation on our team calls. We’ve had everything from bow ties and formal shirts to football strips. As long as no one is visably in PJs then I say anything goes. Wearing full professional wear (unless as a joke) would seem out of touch.

    I’m seriously considering joining a couple of my team who have embraced the hat. My roots are awful and I feel my hair looks unprofessional- a hat could only be an improvement!!

    1. KaciHall*

      I embraced the unprofessional hair and dyed the tips of my long hair teal. If it doesn’t bleach out before we go back into the office, I can cut it off. (For meetings with management, I’ve been pulling my hair back. My team and supervisor know about it, though.)

      As for pajamas… I’m fairly certain most of my team is throwing on hoodies or sweaters over their PJs. And most of us are avoiding bras. But I’m not asking as long as nothing is hanging out!

      1. Megumin*

        I spent several years doing fun colors with my hair, getting more and more bold as time went on…and then last summer, I buzzed off all my hair so it could regrow healthy (I bleached the crap out of it too many times). I feel like I’m missing out on a prime opportunity for crazy hair colors!

      2. Humble Schoolmarm*

        A bottle of blue hair dye is sitting in my bathroom as we speak! I’ve always admired funky coloured hair but never had the nerve, but if my co-workers are the only ones to see it, why not?

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I knew there was something I forgot to pick up when I did the last run to the store. The 13yo & I are going to take the dive together so we share the cleanup. (Even color-depositing shampoo takes weeks to come off our vintage-1959 tub.)

    2. starsaphire*

      My grand-boss showed up to a Skype call last week in a brilliantly colored tie-dye T-shirt, showing off his new beard. It really set the tone nicely for “if we have to do video calls, let’s not worry about this stuff.”

      Now I’m looking through my closet trying to find an even brighter tie-dye and almost looking forward to the next video call… :)

    3. EPLawyer*

      Then there was the judge in Florida who had to remind lawyers:
      1. Get out of bed. One attorney did a hearing in bed under the covers.
      2. Put a shirt on. Apparently a male attorney showed up shirtless to a hearing.
      3. A beach cover up doesn’t hide the fact you are wearing a swimsuit.

      You are still representing your clients in a courtroom even if not physically there, have some decorum. But I bet showing up with no tie, or just a dress shirt and no jacket would have been okay.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        There is definitely something to be said for knowing the audience you are video conferencing with. Just your normal coworkers – hoodie (clean!) should hopefully be fine. But step it up a notch for an external client.

      2. Rachel Greep*

        Yeah, I’d say there is a huge difference between an internal staff meeting or even an external client meeting and an actual COURT hearing.

    4. bmore pm*

      I have embraced the beanie! been wearing one on all my video calls, hopefully doesn’t seem too weird. I’m also about to dye my hair purple, but it’s pretty dark anyway and I’m not bleaching it, so it should be pretty faint.

  8. Jellyfish*

    It’s pretty common for apartment dwellers to have shared laundry facilities or rely on public laundromats. I’m not sure what is standard, but I only have enough work clothes to cover about 7 business days. For anyone unable to do weekly laundry right now, T-shirts and hoodies are necessary substitutes.

    1. Rachel in NYC*

      That’s definitely my primary factor in clothes choices right now. If I can limit my laundry to once a month- it means once a month in our shared laundry facility- and that’s with knowing that it’s being cleaned every 2 hours.

      My office is normal business casual for my position and in transitioning to wfh, I’ve tried to make sure that I stick to sweatshirts I’d wear at the office on casual days or t-shirts where they’ll only see solid colors (with careful camera checks in advance.) No one needs to spend an entire Zoom call staring at my boobs.

    2. MissMeghan*

      Thank you for this. It’s been a while since I’ve had to deal with shared laundry and honestly didn’t think about this.

    3. Aggretsuko*

      Oh god, I am NOT gonna do laundry. Hell no. I live alone and will be wearing clothes until they super stink and then doing hand wash in the shower.

      1. A Lady from the East Kingdom, S.C.A.*

        From my time without a washer/drier: polyester&spandex take the least amount of time to dry on the line… pure cotton takes the most. The tradeoff is that polyester seems to enhance body odor the worst.
        If you’re lucky enough to have washable linen, that’s a great compromise.
        (If anyone’s thinking about getting crafty and sewing a sundress, pre-wash the linen before you cut it and hey presto you have washable linen.)

    4. WorkingGirl*

      My apartment has like four or six washers and Four or six dryers for a few hundred units. They’re only open 8am-8pm which means you need to start laundry by 6pm latest. The alternative is going to the laundromat. I definitely don’t do laundry week, especially now as I’m trying to minimize exposure!

    5. Dust Bunny*

      Except you’re on video: Nobody can smell you or actually see how clean your shirt is. He only needs one shirt that’s not horrendously stained from the chest up, which doesn’t seem like a lot to ask. It can be smelly, even.

      I wore a t-shirt on my last video call that had a massive bleach stain on the lower hem, but it’s fine from the midline up. Would definitely not wear it to the office but as long as the top half looked OK it looked acceptable on screen.

      1. A*

        Yes!!! My go to top for video conference calls is destroyed from the waistline down, courtesy of my cat’s first catnip experience back in the day. But it’s super comfy, feels like PJs – and looks classy on top. Win / win!

        1. Sally*

          I have a new blouse that I got online – so I didn’t realize that it’s VERY long. It looks kind of weird how long it is. But it works great for video calls that only show from the chest up.

    6. Cobol*

      This is a good point. I would say it’s worth just having something nice you can throw on. It can stink. Zoom doesn’t have a smell feature yet.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Covid will probably kill any nascent smell-o-vision development. Nobody wants to have to sculpt their scent-scape right now.

    7. Laundry woes*

      Laundry is such an issue for me right now. One washer/dryer & one entrance/exit to basement/dungeon. PJs and underwear can be handwashed, but the hoodies I’m using to cover up with retain the suds a lot easier. My work clothes are similar. It’s just a pain in the ass. But the more I put it off, the larger the pile gets. I just shelled a hefty chunk of change just to wash March, and it’s still sitting there waiting to be unpacked because- virus. I’m bleeding money right now between shipping costs for essentials and just trying to live. Meanwhile, company is talking about cutback and furloughs, with my boss not understanding why I’m so stressed when it’s taking everything I have just to show up.

    8. RC Rascal*

      This. My last apartment building had shared coin laundry for 18 units. So glad I am not living there now and have a place with my own laundry machines.

  9. NJ Anon*

    I’d be in trouble if I had to wear something more professional than my guinea pig themed t-shirt and yoga pants. It’s about all I can handle at the moment!

      1. NJ Anon*

        No, just the shirt. But my son gave me several gp themed tees for Christmas so thats my new work wardrobe!

  10. NW Mossy*

    Yeah, grooming standards gotta change when it’s basically not an option for people to get professional haircuts right now unless they happen to live with a hairdresser or barber!

    Get ready for bad buzz cuts, surprise shaves, and increased shagginess all around.

    1. KaciHall*

      My dad bought clippers and cut his own happy for the first time in his life. Then cut his dad’s hair. (They’re 65 and 95.) He sent me pictures and I’m so glad it wasn’t a video call because I definitely laughed at them! Dad apparently didn’t realize how short a 3 guard was, and buzzed both of their heads with it. But since they only see each other and occasionally video call me, and pick up a grocery order once a week, I think they’ll be ok

      1. The Original K.*

        Anderson Cooper just gave himself a bald spot because he didn’t realize which guard he was using! He called himself out on air. It’s on the side of his head.

        Most of our hair looks a mess right now. It just is what it is.

        1. Liz*

          Now that’s funny. And good for him to own it. THe GMA reporter i posted about did the same thing. Admitted it and joked about it.

  11. LGC*

    Yeah, I agree with the answer for letter 1. I think that it’s more of an issue if he were doing this with clients (but also, we’re going through the apocalypse right now, I personally think your key client Benedict Butterscotch Bluffburger IV can deal with your employee wearing a snapback and a Dawg Pound hoodie on Zoom), but team meetings? I’d be over the moon if he were wearing pants.

    Funny enough, I have gotten addicted to TikTok (which means that TikTok is officially ruined since old people are into it now, and now I’m imagining LW1 wearing a lei and angrily shaking a pair of jeans at her employee.

    1. Guacamole Bob*

      My manager mentioned on a team call that he wasn’t sure if he was supposed to dress up for an interview he was conducting via video (somehow we’re still allowed to fill open positions right now), and that seemed along the line of a client meeting – you don’t need a suit or anything, but maybe pull on a polo shirt or a sweater instead of the ragged old band t-shirt if you can. Or at least a plain t-shirt instead of the one from the 5k you ran in 2013.

      My spouse interviewed for a job via video a few weeks ago with a normally stodgy employer that specifically said that business clothes were neither required nor expected.

      1. Leah*

        I had a few video interviews. You can really only see a persons head and about 1/3 of their top, so as long as it was a solid colored top I figured it would look fine over video and it doesn’t really matter how formal it is.

        1. filosofickle*

          Yep, you can’t usually tell the difference between nice and casual tops over video. For important calls I avoid Ts that have obvious ribbing around the neck, that’s a giveaway, but a slightly more finished, solid T is almost always enough to look sufficiently professional on camera. When I care what I look like (which isn’t a lot of the time), a tinted lip and earrings are enough to make you look fully done up. Video just isn’t high enough resolution to justify any more!

          1. AnotherRedHeadedOne*

            Laundry has been so unexpectedly stressful in this new reality! There is a tiny laundry room on each floor of this high rise condo building but only from 8am to 8pm. Doctor’s orders are only leaving condo once a week to go to lobby for the mail/packages. Just to commiserate with anyone else with same. And I am very lucky in other respects but laundry has been a small sharp annoyance.

      2. College Career Counselor*

        FWIW, that may depend on the industry and even so, there may be some surprises. I’m in higher education, which can be very casual under the usual circumstances (and has been VERY casual on Zoom lately). That said, a colleague told me they have a video interview in the next week or so and was specifically told to dress as if for an in-person interview.

      3. Just Here for the Free Lunch*

        I conducted some video interviews a couple of weeks ago. Everyone dressed professionally on top, and I wore a shirt that I would wear on a normal work day (although I was in sweats on the bottom). The worst part was having to do my hair and put on makeup!

  12. Liz*

    I think as long as everyone is decent, or not wearing anything offensive, people need to let it go. Now, if you’re like the GMA reporter who wasn’t wearing pants (he DID have shorts on) and it was visible on air, well, maybe then its ok. But if no one is showing anything that doesn’t need to be seen, I’d say its fine.

  13. spock*

    I’d actually like to dress nicer than the t-shirt and sweats uniform look I’ve been sporting for a month, but my cats leave hair and claw marks on everything so I can’t unless I want to ruin clothes. I wish I could wear my skinny jeans and blouses, I really do. Luckily my office is very casual so it’s fine, but just to highlight it might not even be a choice for many people who are dressing down these days. If you’re taking care of a baby or sticky-hand toddler you probably don’t want to put on your nice clothes either.

    Which isn’t to say that “I want to be comfortable” isn’t a valid choice right now, it totally is. Just on top of that.

    1. many bells down*

      Ditto. I enjoy getting dressed up for work. But now I only get dressed up for our nonprofit’s public (virtual) events, and even then it’s what my boss is calling “laced up from the waist up”

    2. Kyrielle*

      Right? Half or more of my business shirts are much more vulnerable to cat claws than my t-shirt collection. And it’s easy for me to mail-order t-shirts if I run out, but I have to try on business shirts to make sure they look appropriate on me, because one style does not suit all. I’d rather preserve my business shirts for when things ease up enough that I need to go into the office occasionally again.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Yuuuup. I have a ton of nice clothes that I never wear, because as soon as I sit down at home I’m covered in dog fur, so why bother with anything nicer than yoga capris and a hoodie. (When I leave the house, I get dressed pretty much last thing before going out the door. :P )

      1. spock*

        Getting ready for nice events is so hard, have to time it so I have enough time to get dressed and do my hair etc but not so long that I’m awkwardly standing around in my nice fur-magnet black dress because I can’t sit down anywhere. Glad I’m not alone with this struggle :)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Cats are black, black with white, and white with black. Dogs are blonde and red-and-black. There have been days that I got all ready to go in my bathrobe and just carried my outer clothes out into the garage to finish getting dressed. :P

    4. SomebodyElse*

      I’m so sick of the ‘Saturday Schlepp’ look right now I could scream. I want to wear my cute heels again and a blouse… and well anything except the same t-shirts and home sweaters.

      1. spock*

        One day we’ll be able to look cute again! Putting on real clothes is legit my favorite part of leaving the house to pick up groceries or whatever.

        1. kt*

          I wore a silk shirt and lipstick to go grocery shopping, which is dumb ’cause I also wore a mask, but hey, it was so exciting to go out near people!!!

      2. Tufty the Traffic Safety Squirrel*

        I’m itching for some real warm weather so I can go prancing around in some of my cute summer dresses for my daily walks (on fairly empty sidewalks and in the local cemetery) before I get too pregnant to fit into them.

      3. Em*

        Barring laundry requirements (they’re obviously a stopping factor for a lot of folks, logistically) — why not wear your cute heels and a blouse? I’ve been working from home for years and one of the perks of being able to wear pretty much what I want is that I can wear what I want. Today, that’s leggings and a hoodie and bare feet. Yesterday, it was red strappy heels and a pretty 40s-style dress and bombshell red lipstick. (It’s catching on on my team as the Opposite Of Casual Friday — To-The-Nines Tuesday).

        I’m seriously considering getting some more wear out of a bridesmaid dress that I haven’t worn since but that I genuinely feel super pretty in.

  14. Susie Q*

    I only dress up if I am going to be on a video call with customer. I don’t need to be in a suit to do a good job. I will probably do a worse job because I’ll be fiddling with my outfit as a suit is not crazy comfortable.

    1. filosofickle*

      Yes. Client facing or involving execs? Look professional. Internal team meeting? Who cares?!

      I’ve seen a lot of mentions of hating video because they don’t want to get “camera ready”. Coming from years and years of video calls — which I resisted but now advocate for — throwing out the idea of camera-ready is important to making it workable. My team had gotten to the point we showed up with wet hair and Ts and didn’t care. We don’t worry about messy backgrounds. We’re at home FFS. It’s okay. It HAS to be okay. Even with clients, if you know your audience you might find many are happy to take it down a notch and stop keeping up appearances. I’ve had high level clients show up on camera from their dining room wearing casual clothes. Nothing more than business casual should ever be required from home IMO.

      1. HR Exec Popping In*

        I recently was on a video panel interview for a virtual HR conference. I wore my finest t-shirt and a cardigan with jeans. This would normally be a suit event. This pandemic and working from home has really changed what “professional” attire is.

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      My “cheat” for customer or Board-level calls is to put on a nice scarf and dark lipstick. Makes it look like I’ve put in waaaay more effort.

        1. Stormy Weather*

          Ditto to the scarf being a good idea. My regular business casual dress is lots of black, white, & gray so I use accessories to express myself. didn’t think of using one for WFH, but I will now.

  15. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    You’re talking to someone who’s at home, why would they dress up to sit at their kitchen table [if they’re so lucky to have one of those!] or wherever they may be seated to do their work in their clunky ass make-shift home office? It’s different when someone is coming to the office, we’re “going” somewhere, so standards are automatically higher.

    As long as he’s not taking these Zoom meetings on his toilet or showing up shirtless, I’d just leave it be!

    1. Cinnamon*

      We have 2 recurrent meetings a week that I make sure I’m prepared for. After one last minute 5 PM meeting (that originally was scheduled for 530) I told my boss I need a minimum of 15 minutes to prepare. When we’re on site I can drop everything but the best spot for me to video chat is on my laptop propped up on my bed while I sit in a desk chair between my bed and my window because I don’t have an office or a kitchen table. Half of my work I’ve done standing at my dresser!

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        You’re not alone, friend.

        I don’t have a laptop. I’m using a desktop. On my coffee table. It’s usually just my tv setup.

        My dresser has a bunch of over flow on it. But I did debate using it.

        No counter space. No kitchen table. No desk chair! No chairs period.

  16. Analyst Editor*

    For LW1, in terms of whether it “ever” mattered… I disagree.
    Most people would agree that a clean, orderly workspace not cluttered with toys or trash helps focus and be more productive (of course some people are messier and do fine, but we’re talking what are likely averages here). It’s like that with clothes. When people are dressed similarly, and neatly, a large number of them are in a work mindset which is different from a casual mindset. When I get up in the morning and dress and wash, I am better at my daily tasks than if I stay around in my PJs. And yes, there’s probably no study showing at 1% significance that NEON ORANGE clothes, or wearing just a sports bra to work, are distracting, but they probably are.

    For any given rule or boundary we draw, it feels arbitrary; and people will be tempted to lawyer – “how come we can wear headbands but not hats? How come knee-length is ok but just above the knee isn’t? Why is Feb 1 ok but Jan 31 not ok?” But you have to draw it somewhere — in setting the age for voting, drinking, etc. And yes, these boundaries are determined by culture, and our culture is evolving towards being more casual. But “culturally determined” or “socially constructed” doesn’t automatically mean “‘arbitrary”, or “bad”, or “must be done away with”, even if it somehow hampers our immediate desires to do what we want when we want to.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think this varies significantly from person to person. Personally, I’m more comfortable and productive in lounge clothes. And really, what clothing we’ve decided looks neat and orderly is 100% how we’re socialized.

      1. Analyst Editor*

        Right. And I’d probably say that in the context of the pandemic you’re right that nitpicking clothes is out of touch.
        But “how we’re socialized” applies to literally everything; it doesn’t follow that we must instantly de-socialize everything.

        1. Pescadero*

          It applies to everything.

          It’s also an arbitrary, subjective, human creation that we can change at a whim.

          It’s not objective reality – just a collective decision.

        2. James*

          To go from “not wearing normal office cloths” to “we’re de-socializing everything” is a major leap. And one that’s not warranted by the data.

          Remember, what you’re wearing right now was considered inappropriate for going outside at one time. T-shirts were considered underwear until after WWII–going out in a t-shirt was on par with a woman going outside in her bra. Not wearing a wastecoat, not wearing a jacket, not wearing a stock–these are all things that would have gotten the same reaction you’re having not that long ago.

          Fashions change. Pandemics accelerate that change. That doesn’t mean civilization is ending, it means civilization is adaptable enough to survive.

          1. Oxford Comma*

            I am old enough to remember when it was expected that women in American offices wore some sort of pantyhose or stockings to work at all times. Maybe if it hit 95F, you might get a pass to go barelegged, but otherwise, you wore pantyhose/stockings/tights. Everyone did it. Everyone expected it.

            At some point, there was a shift. It wasn’t like there was a pandemic or anything either. Standards change.

            Frankly if I don’t have to get all that dressed up post-pandemic, that’s gonna be just fine with me.

        3. Tinker*

          It’s not a matter of there being one standard for how to dress for work, and then the notion that since this standard is arbitrary we can discard it and let chaos reign, it’s a matter of that since standards of how people dress for work are arbitrary, *there are multiple standards*, and what is appropriate / how that reads depends on the context.

          I’ve seen before when discussions like these come around that it seems to be a relatively common struggle for people who are used to more formal levels of business dress not to understand this — their language tends to frame the question in terms of “wearing work clothes” vs “not dressing like you care about your job” and such like, or more mildly seeing wearing a hoodie as being universally in the same category as wearing pajamas.

          The trouble with this comes in situations where the context changes: a person wearing a suit and tie to an office that wears hoodies and T-shirts is not dressed better than everyone else, they are dressed inappropriately. (And there is a person in that office who is the best dressed among them — the person who has the *fancy* hoodie and the *fancy* T-shirt, not suit person.)

          This situation is a bit weird, because the context could potentially go both ways — the person’s business formal office has moved into their home, so should their home become more office-like or should their office become more home-like? In this case, where the office has sort of become crashed on the couch of the person’s home, I’d suggest that the office should lean much more to being an accommodating guest. However, regardless, it’s easier to work out the problem when the matter of context is made more explicit than it sometimes is.

      2. Lora*

        +1000. My first several jobs after college and grad school were spent in a lab or clean room, wearing some sort of head-to-toe PPE, clunky steel-toe shoes and wrapped up in Tyvek covered everything. Some of my jobs have involved field work where a hard hat, boots, chemical exposure sensors and high visibility vest in 105F degree heat was the rule. If I wasn’t very productive in anything other than Ann Taylor and air conditioning, I’d be in a world of hurt.

        The fact is, humans can adapt to a lot of things, and all these cultural things are definitely comfortable to us – but give it about 3-7 months and you can definitely adapt and get used to plenty of other things too. Those first few months will be frustrating, uncomfortable, klutzy and feel like you’re messing up constantly and struggling to do the dumbest, simplest things that used to be no big deal, but if you stick with it (which takes an immense amount of willpower and patience and feeling insecure, for sure), you do adapt and get used to the new reality and new habits. People are unhappy about stay-at-home orders now, but by September or so they’ll be sort of over it and accustomed to putting on a mask and gloves before they go out, making grocery runs at 2pm on a Tuesday, etc. It just takes time.

        In my mother’s day, women didn’t go out of the house without a hat, gloves and a dress on – pants for women were not yet popular, they were sort of a Marlene Dietrich / Katharine Hepburn thing, not what women wore daily. People got used to different clothing VERY quickly though – once they made up their minds that nobody was going to fall over from the vapors if they went out in jeans and a T-shirt.

        I would argue that it’s actually good for you to learn how to manage changes in your environment successfully, even if they are smallish ones like clothing you wear to work: for most people, your job and career will change substantially over your lifetime, and it’s best to be highly adaptable and be quite accustomed to the feeling of being uncomfortable and awkward for a while, knowing that with effort it will pass in time. People who don’t adapt readily also struggle with new business needs like overseas travel and managing rapid growth or supply-chain disruptions – it makes you a more valuable employee to be able to manage uncomfortable changes.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Stating most would agree with you is quite a presumption. Some people are more productive at work, some are more productive at home. Some are more productive when comfortable, others need to wear more professional clothing. Some need to stick to their normal work routine (get up, shower, get dressed, etc.), others can roll out of bed and start working. And people will also fall in between these extremes. I knew someone who’s office looked like a tornado blew through it, but if you asked him for something he knew exactly where it was and could find it in seconds. Everyone works in their own way, and as long as they’re getting their work done as needed, what people are wearing on video calls for work shouldn’t be a big deal (assuming it’s not offensive or inappropriate – like being half dressed or clothing with vulgar language).

      1. Cobol*

        I really agree with this. I am a naturally messy, and it does have to do with ADHD which could be a protected class I believe. I do work some to have a slightly cleaner workspace, but have had managers who are fixated on all employees having a completely clear desk and it’s significantly negatively impact the quality of my work. The same with office nicknacks. Does it matter, or is sticking point for you?

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’ve had this argument so I’ll jump to my evidence in contrary: people whose cluttered workspace would have given my mother conniptions include Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, Steve Jobs, William F. Buckley Jr., Jerry Pournelle, Picasso, Alexander Calder, Nigella Lawson…
          Focus on productivity and avoiding hygiene hazards & fire hazards — if there’s a system in place that works for the employee and can be documented for someone to cover their work on vacation, why do we need more?
          (That said, I do periodically empty my space …and then I start collecting all over.)

          1. James*

            If someone can tell me how to keep three geologic maps, two text books, a dozen papers, and two websites open at the same time without being messy, I’d love to hear it. And that’s my desk on a good day. Even if you put it all away every night, folks coming in during the day tend to think the area is messy.

    3. ElizabethJane*

      I mean, yes, I am more productive when I’m not in my PJs because I’ve gone through the motions of “getting ready” which is a mental shift. But a hat and sweatshirt are not PJs. Perhaps for this person getting ready means changing out of flannel bottoms and a ratty college shirt and putting on a clean sweatshirt and a hat.

      This morning I woke up and changed out of my dogs-doing-yoga pajama pants and pink t shirt. Brushed my teeth, brushed my hair, put on jeans, and a solid grey hooded sweatshirt. Mental shift complete. Work mindset activated. I’m not convinced that there would be a difference if I’d have put on a shirt without a hood.

      1. James*

        My father was a fire fighter, and once we were old enough to help out us kids started to do so. We learned to go from “dead asleep” to “fully functional” in seconds. I prefer to wear office attire to work–even when I’m at home I actually do dress like I’m going to the office–but I’m fully capable of operating at normal capacity in nothing but pajama pants and a smile. It’s been a useful skill, as my career has often involved multiple jobsites in multiple time zones.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’ve worked my entire life in casual clothes. And I feel uncomfortable and distracted in former attire.

      It’s also curious you brought up age requirements. Not so long ago they raised the legal age for tobacco. Everything is still subject to change when new studies and new insight forces your hand.

      We constantly retool our ideas and cultures shifts.

      1. allathian*

        Same here, the most I’ve done is business casual. I’ve literally never had a job where dry cleaning or ironing, the one chore I literally cannot stand, is an issue. Of course, when I was younger and worked in service jobs, my employers provided the staff uniforms.

    5. Dahlia*

      Yeaaaah, no. I am medically limited in what clothes I can wear and especially what laundry I can do, and it has not affected my productivity. The injury, sure, not the clothes.

    6. Senor Montoya*

      Analyst Editor, you’re going to get some frowny faces for this answer!

      Starting with me. Please do not diss those of us with cluttered, toy-strewn desks. I am one of the most productive employees in my office, well-respected, blah blah blah. As long as the space is not actually dirty or gross or so full of stuff people can’t move around in it, it’s fine. For sure I would be sad (still productive, but not happy) if I had to have a blank Sahara of a desk.

      You do you. Go ahead and think that a barren workspace amps productivity, those of us with the talking Mr. Incredible and the Magic 8-Ball know better. ;)

      1. 2 Cents*

        I won “best desk” at my old job because of my curated toy collection. I do a lot of writing and having distractions to fiddle with during writer’s block helps my productivity.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        My best boss was a pack rat. When we cleaned his office it was a time capsule. Lots of stuff. His own “filing system”. We could still easily find stuff once we knew his location for it or to just go ahead and dig!

        No actual trash or gross stuff. Just. Lots of stuff! That’s when clutter stopped nagging at me as distracting or gross or unproductive.

    7. Koala dreams*

      I’m like you, I can’t get anything done in my pyjamas. Now, they toys on the desk on the other hand, they are good for productivity. It’s very hard to get anything done with an empty desk, better to put some stuff there.

  17. Potatoes gonna potate*

    I just dont’ see why employers should care so much about this. It’s not a normal WFH situation. Unless you’re meeting clients over video, which i’m not sure how common it is right now. Thankfully my last job didn’t do video calls, just phone meetings.

    1. Jackie Lope*

      I work for a non-profit, but I don’t work with donors so I’m usually in t-shirts unless a C-level is on the call, then it’s might be a polo, or there’s a nice cardigan over the tee. If I talked with donors, I would put on a button-down or something that looked a little dressy

      I know with some people it helps their mindset to be in Work Clothes vs Loafing Clothes vs Venturing Outside Clothes, but I don’t think enforcing a dress code when working at home is the norm is productive for anyone. As long as someone isn’t wearing clothes that are dirty or torn, I’d let it ride.

  18. Kate R*

    I can see asking him to remove the baseball cap if it was hiding his face, and for whatever reason you needed to see it. I’m so grateful that my program manager has us do voice only calls and just asked us to upload pictures of ourselves for an upcoming customer meeting. I don’t know if Zoom has that option (we use MS Teams), but I recommend it for people looking for alternatives as we all become less groomed with continued salon and barber shop closures.

    1. Stormy Weather*

      I would prefer to have a picture. I am overdue for a haircut My bangs are asymmetrical and there is no way I’m going to attempt cutting them myself. They’re getting quite long and I’m always pushing them aside. In a couple weeks I should be able to pin them back and have them stay put.

  19. Ray*

    I. Can’t. Get. A. Haircut. Right. Now. Why would you want me to not wear a ball cap to hide this mess? Grossly out of touch.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I just saw what one of my colleagues did to their hair trying to do an at-home job and only then did I truly appreciate what barbers do!

      I’ve seen so many beanies coming out in this pandemic. I’ve just accepted them. I don’t understand our weird dislike for hats still. Reminds me of the old “no hats at the dinner table” rule.

      1. Kettricken Farseer*

        Some people still have that reaction to seeing someone wearing a hat indoors. I never really understood why that was considered ill-mannered.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          My idea is that it’s from “old times” where your hat was to protect you from the chamber pots being tossed out windows and landing on heads….so it’s assumed hats are filthy stanky.

          That’s a rabbit hole I could go down…

      2. Jedi Squirrel*

        I really wish hats would come back in style.

        Just before all this started, I bought a little black pork pie hat at H&M and thought I would wear it everywhere. Now, I’m not even leaving the house, except to go to work.

        1. Champagne Cocktail*

          H&M has some cute hats. I bought one last fall, a black wide-brimmed one. I’m in my fifties, not exactly their target market and the eyes of young woman at the register bugged out when I asked her to take off the tag so I could wear. She must have thought I was buying it for someone else.

          She did tell me I looked really good in it when I put it on.

    2. DarthVelma*

      Yup yup. I have a very intricate and shaped hairstyle. And purple and blue streaks that are starting to really fade after nearly 3 months without reloading the color. I’m going to miss my 2nd salon appointment on Friday. My bangs are down past my nose. I’m keeping the hair out of my face with an amazing assortment of ponytail holders, hair clips, and bobby pins. Sometimes it’s kind of cute (mostly due to the glitter involved in the clips and pins), but not at all professional and not how I want my co-workers to see me. I. Will. Not. Do. Video.

      1. Cinnamon*

        I have shorter bangs that were doing very well to hide my root growth but as this gets longer it’s going to be VERY noticeable where my natural color ends and dyed hair begins. It’s going to be beanies and baseball caps for a while until salons open again.

      2. londonedit*

        Yep. I have a sharp bob with a fringe and an undercut (I have crazy thick, but straight, hair and the undercut lets the bob sit perfectly without having a ton of weight underneath making it all look like a triangle). I actually got the clippers out the other week and redid my undercut myself (terrifying, but it worked pretty well!) and I’ve been trimming my fringe myself. But there is no way in the world I will be touching the bob itself. It’s so precise there’s absolutely no way I could even attempt to trim it. So it’s just going to have to keep growing.

    3. Rectilinear Propagation*

      To be fair, the writer doesn’t want to talk to their employee about their clothes. They wrote in asking if it’s OK to not care about this.

  20. Ray Gillette*

    Stuck on lengthy Zoom calls: When I get into this situation, I stay on the call but tune it out (I listen for my name and that’s about it) and do work that doesn’t involve getting on the phone. Nobody notices. Might or might not work for your specific situation, but if your boss wants you there and you don’t have anything to contribute, you don’t need to give the call your undivided attention.

    1. sfdgf tr*

      I was wondering why this wasn’t the obvious answer. Why aren’t you multi-tasking/working during the 2nd half? So many people do that. And if you hear your name or certain key words, then you pay attention again. This is why you’ll often even hear people answer “sorry, I was multi-tasking can you repeat that?” or “sorry, someone else had just pinged me, what exactly was that?” I’d say it’s even doubly acceptable now with so many other distractions due to all the WFH w/o daycare or petcare, or cohabitators being around.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It’s a possible answer, but it’s easier to just be direct and ask if you can drop off once you’re no longer needed. Unless you have a boss you need to delicately tap dance around.

        1. boo bot*

          I would also find it really hard to multi-task this way, to be honest. If I’m tuned out from the meeting enough to be working on something else, I’m tuned out enough that I’m going to miss my name and other key words; I think it looks worse to get caught not paying attention than to just ask to leave the meeting.

        2. Le Sigh*

          Yeah, depending on the work, this might not be feasible. I do a ton of writing — I can’t half listen and keep up with the meeting (and sounds intelligent if I need to respond) and produce good writing. It’s just not how I function. Sure, I can do quick hit emails or other tasks, but sustained focus work ain’t gonna happen.

          I do think a lot of companies need to reckon with how many meetings they’ve added and make sure the balance accounts for stuff like this. In the beginning, I couldn’t get enough blocks of time to really write, and had to push for some schedule adjustments. It’s much better now.

          1. Lucy*

            Yeah, I just can’t do it (multitask when doing focused work). Firstly I find it hard to tune out, and secondly, I’m probably overthinking this but if I’m in a meeting, I feel the need to be fully ‘present’ in case I miss an important general message or a question. My work has increased the amount of meetings we need to attend, and that combined with looking after a toddler means I get very little ‘focus’ time.

      2. Nitpicker*

        I assume that when the LW says they need their “full focus for most tasks”, they imply that, in fact, they can’t multitask and work on something else.

      3. Rectilinear Propagation*

        I agree that everyone should be OK with it now but that might not be the case. Or it is the case but they haven’t communicated that. I can see LW #2 being wary of it if their workplace was using software that tracks whether you’re using anything else on your computer during meetings.

        It can also be difficult to multi-task a meeting, depending on what the other task is. I find that starting new work or trying to fix a problem is harder to do while distracted than continuing an existing task or rote work. It sounds like the writer is referring to new work entering their inbox.

    2. spicebra*

      Yep, my company has been having a plethora of “all hands” lately. HR, company, division, department, & team level meetings to “let everyone know what’s going on”. The thing is, my job doesn’t really change much as a result & I’m feeling overwhelmed, so I personally don’t need a bunch of extra meetings. For those where I’m 100% certain I don’t need to pay attention, I turn the volume waaay down.

      Now, there are also meetings where I get very little out of the time but don’t have the luxury of practically muting the meeting. Depending on what I’m working on, I might find it difficult to get any work done while someone is berating a point.

    3. Rachel in NYC*

      I wonder if a different computer set up might help. I’m rarely stuck on zoom calls- but sometimes when I am, I’m also in the middle of something I don’t want to stop and use the benefit of a second monitor to work on that task.

  21. Delta Delta*

    First off, I’m not someone who enjoys sitting around in my pajamas all day. Ever since I was a wee lass I’ve liked having day clothes and night clothes. That’s just me.

    Important higher-ups/clients: I make sure to wear a professional looking top or blouse. Also, it gives me time to put my sweatshirt(s) in the laundry, and everyone is thankful for that.

    Coworkers/decidedly chill clients: sweater or sweatshirt is fine

    Class: has included a hat a few times. Nobody cares. And I’m the one teaching.

    In all cases, at least one cat walks through. I tend to think cats are using video calls as a further way to take over the world.

    1. PJH*

      First off, I’m not someone who enjoys sitting around in my pajamas all day. Ever since I was a wee lass I’ve liked having day clothes and night clothes.

      Same here*. And I have no video calls at the moment.

      * Well except the ‘lass’ bit.

    2. periwinkle*

      I’ve been mainly WFH for 1.5 years now and had weekly WFH days before then. I always get dressed in business casual for work, even now that my company discourages video calls due to bandwidth.

      It creates a separation – needed now more than ever – between work time and home time. When I shut down the laptop, I’ll switch to sweats or other comfy clothes to signal the transition.

      (I do draw the line at wearing shoes because I never wear them in the house anyway)

      Maybe it’s because WFH and virtual meetings are my normal anyway, and I’m sticking to that routine to maintain normality.

    3. starsaphire*

      Shhh. It’s supposed to be a secret.

      – Whiskers Meowington the IV, Chairkiller of Condo-Land, Future King of Hayward

    4. Reba*

      Yeah, you have day pajamas and night pajamas, duh. :)

      I’m very aware of clothing and mindset but full time stretchy pants is one of the perks of this stressfest and I’m into it! It is kinda fun to wear a nice top and then totally clashing leggings and fluffy slippers, and no one on the other side of the screen is the wiser.

      1. That'll happen*

        I change into my day pajamas too! What really helps me more than anything is that I’m non-exempt and I have a work cell phone so once the day is over I shut down my computer and leave my work cell at my desk, which is only used for work. Having that separation makes a bigger difference than what kind of clothes I’m wearing.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I never liked pajamas until the last few years. But then with athleisure becoming a thing, I’m all in for that! Which reads pajamas to many people lol.

    6. allathian*

      Day clothes are a must for me, maybe because I need a bra if I’m going to sit up with a decent posture. My biggish breasts are so heavy that I really need the support.

  22. KoiFeeder*

    In true AAM spirit, I’ve been wearing a (sadly non-sparkly) dragon kigurumi for most of my zoom calls.

    I actually have a good reason for this one, though. The two kigurumi are the only clothes I have with baggy enough sleeves and pant legs that I can wear my joint braces under the fabric instead of on top, and I’d rather be judged for the dragons than the joint braces.

  23. Kettricken Farseer*

    Yeah, several of the men on the team I manage wear baseball caps pretty consistently. I assume they’ve got some wild and crazy hair under there since they can’t go get a haircut. I can’t imagine telling them not to wear a hat, because there is a reason why they’re doing it. And really, even if their reason is, “I really like this sportsball team,” I’m cutting slack for people right now.

    1. Jamie*

      I’ve worked with guys who had plugs and would go in every so often for maintenance. I have no idea how frequently that needs to happen, but if they have had to skip that the hat could be hiding something worse (for them) than a bad haircut.

    2. Hillary*

      we’ve started lobbying to allow hats for at least a couple weeks when we go back to our business casual office – we’re not all going to be able to get in at the salon/barber right away.

  24. Buttons*

    I haven’t been able to get a cut and color since January. My roots are 3 inches of pure gray, and my once adorable pixie cut is looking like a cross between a mullet and a bowl cut. I strategically stage myself, my angle, and the lighting for calls so that it is a little less noticeable. Let’s cut people some slack. Does it really matter?
    I took my Monday afternoon video call on my front porch in jeans and a t-shirt, with my feet up on the railing and the chickens running around. If work is getting done and people are engaged, let them cope however they can.

    1. Róisín*

      Ugh, my pixie is also a mullet/bowl cut/nightmare from the 80s/muppet style right now. I usually go to a chain in town, but it’s bad enough now that when salons reopen I’ll be going to visit my parents so I can go to the best stylist ever.

      1. Buttons*

        I resorted to letting my husband cut the back a bit because it was too mullet even for being quarantined! He did a good job. I have been trying to grow my hair out for years, but I could never let it because I always had to look professional and pulled together, so I figure this is my chance! If it isn’t grown out enough by July to have a short bob I will go back to the pixie cut I’ve been rocking for the last 12 years.

    2. Princess Zelda*

      I feel this! I have an undercut, and my hair looks *terrible.* I last got a haircut in January with the express intention of going back the second week of March, which, as one might imagine, did not actually happen. I’ve been wearing fabric hairbands to try and make it look intentional and I’m not really succeeding at all.

    3. SomebodyElse*

      My current look… the love child of Paulie from the Sopranos and Janice Joplin. (How’s that for a visual?).

      I was lucky that 4 weeks ago I arranged for a color drop from my stylist so my roots are only a week past their normal schedule, I’ll be doing a color pickup from my salon next week, so it’s not as bad as it could be, but it’s still pretty bad.

      I’m so lucky that my company hasn’t embraced video meetings. We like our voice only so I can work on other things while people drone on in the background tyvm.

    4. filosofickle*

      I’ve never been happier that I do my own color! Just took care of my silver. But holy hell my mane, which grows like a weed, might just take over the universe. SO MUCH HAIR. My salon takes appointments online, so I’ve preemptively scheduled for both June and July, not knowing when we’ll open back up. Even if the salon can open in June, I’ll probably still keep the July appointment because after 4-5 months a second shaping may be necessary.

  25. CupcakeCounter*

    Most of my team is in hoodies or similar for team meetings. The only thing our boss asks is that when we have a nice picture in our profile for non-video meetings and to look decent (business casual on the top) for meeting outside our core team. One benefit of the move to these types of meetings is that I actually got to “meet” my contacts in India and China last week. I threw on a nicer top and some earrings with my yoga pants.

  26. Greycat3120*

    So once we get used to people wearing whatever, do you all think there will be a relaxation of those conservative dress codes? It will be difficult to argue they bring any value (as long as people are clean etc).

    1. Kettricken Farseer*

      I was thinking about this, too. My business unit is not public- or client-facing, so I’ll be curious to see if there is a softening of the dress code. A lot of stuff that seemed so important before just doesn’t seem to matter anymore.

    2. juliebulie*

      As long as people still have to wear pants, I’m cool with it.

      (Also – Zoom benefits from not being smell-o-vision. I’m going to have to get back into the habit of not being smelly when we go back to work.)

    3. Mediamaven*

      I think so. I’ve thought about relaxing out dress code to allow for more fitness clothes so we can exercise when we are all back. The problem is some people interpret casual dress and looking sloppy and lack of hygiene. It starts to turn into a slippery slope.

    4. Adminanon*

      My guess is yes. My work has a mix of dress codes based on role, and those with a business casual dress code have moved towards more casual. Still dressed appropriately, but think jeans, booties, and sweater instead of black dress pants, booties, and a sweater.

  27. Oxford Comma*

    My hair is a total mess right now and there’s very little I can do about it until my state reopens. If I were a hat person, I might feel the need for a hat too.

    I am hoping that when this is over, we as a society do some rethinking about work attire. I confess, I have occasionally missed wearing nicer clothes, but I’m saving a fortune on dry cleaning and am not at all sorry that my Spanx are lying unused in a drawer right now.

    1. JJ Bittenbinder*

      I’m not at all sorry that I’ve only worn sports bras for 7 weeks now. (I mean, those are the only type of bras I’ve been wearing. I wear other clothing items as well! Many at the same time, even.)

      1. willow for now*

        Hahahaha! You mean it’s not:
        -8-10 am: bra
        -10-noon: socks
        -noon-2 pm: one sock and a mitten
        -2-5 pm: two mittens and panties

  28. Phony Genius*

    It feels like the clothing question should be an everybody-or-nobody sort of thing. If everybody else on the call is in “professional” clothes, the one who is not will stick out. Likewise, if one person is wearing a full suit, and everybody else is in t-shirts or sweatshirts and hats, the suit-wearer could make everybody else feel awkward. It would be better if everybody were dressing to the same level (though you may define those levels to be a bit wider than normal).

    I also think the level and content of the meeting matters. Discussing most day-to-day matters in casual clothes is fine. But if high-level executives are discussing potentially furloughing employees or shutting down the company, I would hope they dress a little more seriously.

    All that said, all of our meetings are audio-only, so nobody can be certain if anybody’s dressed at all.

    1. juliebulie*

      If high-level executives are discussing potentially furloughing employees or shutting down the company, I don’t give a rip what they’re wearing!

    2. James*

      I’ve been the guy in “casual” cloths at high-level meetings. I was going to jobsite immediately after the meeting, and “business casual” doesn’t meet the PPE requirements. It got a raised eyebrow, I explained the situation, and the client’s opinion of me raised a few notches. It raised even more when they realized that I had in-depth knowledge of the project, of my side of it, and of my staff.

      For call-in meetings I am 100% opposed to video. First, I don’t care what you’re wearing; it’s irrelevant to the purpose of the meeting (unless you’re in fashion, I guess). Second, there’s more important things to see onscreen. Non-video calls get around 90% of the complaints about video calls that have been posted on this website.

  29. Cobol*

    OP, as long as your expectations aren’t out of line with the rest of your organization, I think it’s fine to say no hats or hoodies.
    One question though, have you been explicit on what is okay and what isn’t okay? Are you saying dress casual, but professional or are you saying you don’t have to wear a button up shirt, but please wear a shirt with no hoods, no graphics/slogans, and no hoods?

    1. JJ Bittenbinder*

      I feel like form follows function, though. If there’s a business reason to prohibit hats or hoodies on a team call, then by all means, share it.

      Otherwise, I agree with what you said. Phrases used for different clothing styles (e.g., “dress well”, “smart casual”, “business casual”) are not standardized, so saying exactly what is prohibited is essential.

      1. Cobol*

        I agree with this personally as well, but I think it’s reasonable scenario if OP worked at 100 year old attorney’s office focusing on tax law for old-money businesses in Charleston, that hats and hoodies wouldn’t be okay. That’s an extreme example, but I think some places might still have a dress code beyond as long as you’re properly covered and there’s no stains or holes wear what you want.

  30. Free Meerkats*

    From the letter:

    I am an introverted, technical person who needs my full focus for most tasks.

    I’m great at just listening for my name while doing other stuff (leftover from pilot training where you have to focus on flying the plane, but can’t miss your call from Center.) But there are things I do where that isn’t possible – which my wife has discovered now that I’m doing them from home. She starts talking and I don’t respond until well into what she is saying, and my response is, “What?”

  31. Turquoisecow*

    This is timely! I’m almost 20 weeks pregnant and and working remotely – I’ve worked remotely for the last couple years, but now all my coworkers who usually don’t are remote as well. Even if my office opens before my due date in September, I’m not sure I’ll go in or feel safe and comfortable going in. (I have asthma and I really don’t want any more strain on my lungs.)

    It occurred to me that I could probably not say anything until I’m in labor or about to have the baby and no one would know, but that seems a little harsh. I don’t get benefits at this job – no PTO or maternity leave or anything like that – so there isn’t really anything to talk to HR about, it’s really just letting my boss know.

    My gut right now is to share in June, but I don’t know. This whole experience has been really weird!

    1. JJ Bittenbinder*

      Congrats on your pregnancy!

      I think the advice given is good for you as well—do what feels right, being mindful of at what point your boss will need to start planning for your absence when assigning work or client accounts.

      Hope the back nine are smooth sailing for you!

    2. Lies, damn lies and...*

      Hah. I’m 20 weeks pregnant too and haven’t told anyone. I work remotely and planned it to be obvious at a meeting that was supposed to happen at the beginning of this month but it obviously didn’t and now it feels weird I haven’t said anything.

  32. Sharon*

    I’ve been self employed for the last 5 years and only have to “dress” on very rare occasions, but this post brought up bad memories for me! I have no interest in fashion and I loathe shopping for clothing. Also, nothing “off the rack” fits me properly. From day on at my first “real” job, I have encountered varying degrees of “talking to” about my work attire. Short of spending a LOT of money on clothing and hiring a stylist, there was really nothing I could do about it. Asking me to “dress better” is like asking someone that only speaks English to start speaking Spanish. Wearing whatever I want is one of my favorite parts of being self employed.

  33. Sharon*

    I’ve been self employed for the last 5 years and only have to “dress” on very rare occasions, but this post brought up bad memories for me! I have no interest in fashion and I loathe shopping for clothing. Also, nothing “off the rack” fits me properly. From day on at my first “real” job, I have encountered varying degrees of “talking to” about my work attire. Short of spending a LOT of money on clothing and hiring a stylist, there was really nothing I could do about it. Asking me to “dress better” is like asking someone that only speaks English to start speaking Spanish. Wearing whatever I want is one of my favorite parts of being self employed.

  34. Sharon*

    I’ve been self employed for the last 5 years and only have to “dress” on very rare occasions, but this post brought up bad memories for me!

    I have no interest in fashion and I loathe shopping for clothing. Also, nothing “off the rack” fits me properly. From day on at my first “real” job, I have encountered varying degrees of “talking to” about my work attire. Short of spending a LOT of money on clothing and hiring a stylist, there was really nothing I could do about it. Asking me to “dress better” is like asking someone that only speaks English to start speaking Spanish. Wearing whatever I want is one of my favorite parts of being self employed.

  35. JJ Bittenbinder*

    So glad to see your answer. I saw the topic header and actually said “F–k, no!” out loud.

  36. SusanIvanova*

    Before all this, we would have regularly scheduled inter-department meetings, where one group of people were there for the whole meeting but others would only show up to do their part. There would be an agenda so you’d have a good idea of when you’d need to be there, but inevitably there’d be some waiting around as things ran over or went faster than expected.

    They’ve found these meetings are working better via webex – instead of trying to judge when you’d have to go hang out in the hall, you can be at your desk doing work right up to the point where you needed to be in the meeting, and then leave as soon as you’re done.

    Sounds like something the person who is stuck in meetings could suggest – sure, in the old days it was easier to have everyone in the meeting, but now that they can come and go as needed with no delay maybe shorter meetings with smaller groups or on-demand attendance would work better.

    The other thing that got changed quickly was the idea that a meeting would be one hour long – the upper level folks who spent their days in meetings discovered that back to back meetings became literally back-to-back when there wasn’t an implied 5 minute gap to go to the next room and wait for everyone to get in. So now all meetings are scheduled to start 5 minutes after the hour.

  37. Mrs_helm*

    If you will eventually be in the office/client facing, then I would think the employer would want to see that you know how to dress appropriately for that.

  38. Bookworm*

    If you’re on the call with outside parties like clients or vendors than it’d be understandable. But if it’s a regular call between co-workers, there’s no reason to dress up like you’re in the office. Some people work better in a cap and hoodie.

  39. HR Bee*

    I literally had a video interview last week where the person interviewing me was in a plain blue T-shirt. Think, Hanes undershirt T-shirts. While I was in a suit. So yea… hoodie is a step up.

    1. Teapot Librarian*

      An interview! I had a video chat with one of my employees in which he was wearing only an undershirt (think “wifebeater” though I HATE that term). I was pretty solid on that being not appropriate, but the points people are making here about laundry access are making me wonder. (That said, no one can smell your dirty shirt on a video call.)

  40. lilsheba*

    I agree. If you’re at home, especially because one has to be, then who cares what you’re wearing. It’s more important to be able to feel comfortable. I refuse to dress up in my own house.

  41. No Name*

    I agree a hoodie and baseball cap doesn’t matter for coworker online meetings but I think it does for online meetings with clients, depending on the industry. In conservative industries like law and accounting, clients need to feel confident that you are good at what you do, reliable and worth the fees you charge. Part of that is in the image you project and how you dress. Hoodies, track suits and baseball caps do not say ‘I can be trusted to invest your life savings”, it says “I am immature and haven’t outgrown my college days”. It might not be fair or accurate but that is the way it is.

  42. Matt*

    I don’t even understand what’s all about those video calls. We do all of our remote meetings with just audio and occasional screen sharing – what is the big gain in seeing one’s coworker’s heads filmed by a camera? It’s just a big waste of bandwidth in most cases.

    1. Erstwhile Lurker*

      Agreed, we do this as well. I’m not sure why the need for actual video call..

  43. JJ Bittenbinder*

    Good point. Context is very important. I was focusing on the “who gives a darn if everyone is stuck at home working”, but I don’t work or live in a super conservative area.

  44. Daniotra*

    I mostly agree with today’s answer, but I do think it’s OK to ask the employee to remove his hat and lower his hood so you can see his facial expressions on the video. If he’s using the hat to be warm, or hide a bald spot, something brimless would be better as it would not block his face.

  45. Jen R*

    I work at a big law firm and our practice chairs get on video wearing hoodies and baseball caps.

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