Most self-employed translators get to work from home and can wear whatever they want to work, which is fantastic. After years of working in-house (Judy), it's certainly nice not to have to get dolled up by 8 a.m., but the question of whether you should be completely dressed and looking professional before you work from home where no one sees you is a topic that comes up quite frequently on listservs. It's a question that Judy also gets from her students at UC San Diego-Extension every quarter, so we figured we'd address it here. The answer is: it depends.
|We don't always dress like this.|
Some colleagues like to get up, take their shower, and get dressed in clothes that make them feel comfortable and professional, similar to what they would wear if they worked in a traditional office environment. Others put on comfy lounge pants, yoga outfits or pajamas. After all, the client can't see you, so it doesn't matter what you look like. However, we do think there is, for some of us, a sort of correlation between what you are wearing and how you feel. We do like to get dressed first thing in the morning, after having our tea and reading the paper, but we don't always wear a suit. We are also interpreters, so if we have an interpreting assignment say, mid-morning, then it makes sense to put on that suit at 8 a.m., translate for a few hours, and then head to court (or the conference, or whatever the assignment might be). If we have no client appointments nor interpreting assignments scheduled for that day, we usually put on some business casual outfit that could quickly be converted into more formal dress (by adding a black jacket, for instance) if we had to leave the house for an impromptu meeting or assignment. Other times, we like to head to a 2 p.m. yoga or kickboxing class, and those days, it makes sense to put on our workout gear. We are not known for working in our pajamas, although that does sound tempting. For some reason, we like to be a bit more dressy, even if it's at home. Our one secret weapon when it comes to dressing is that we always keep a black jacket on hand (Judy keeps one in her car). We think it's essential to have one good-looking black jacket that's been recently dry cleaned and has no missing buttons. There's nothing quite like putting on a black jacket -- it makes us feel instantly professional. We like to think of it as our business game face. It's hard not to feel like you are "on" when you are wearing a fitted suit, even if it's just the jacket.
What about you, dear colleagues? Do you get dressed for work most of the time? We'd love to hear your comments!