WFH (Bad) Habits: At-Home Workers Reveal Shocking Routines & Guilty Pleasures
By The Shinesty Team
3,000 American at-home (formerly in-office) workers share their thoughts about traditional office work clothes vs. working in whatever they want, ignoring previous standards for grooming and hygiene, skipping meetings in favor of midday naps, working from the toilet, and many more shocking WFH habits formed during the pandemic.
Table of Contents:
The COVID-19 pandemic radically rocked the working in the office vs. WFH (work from home) playing field, and as many workers reluctantly trudge back to their offices, it’s clear that some form of WFH is here to stay.
Remote working created some unintentional perks that workers just find too difficult to give up, and even if those benefits are going to be enjoyed for just a couple of days per week because of hybrid schedules, workers aren’t going to let them go. From zero commute time to home-cooked meals all day to mid-day naps to working in whatever clothes they want — the benefits seem endless.
But while the benefits may seem clear, we wanted to learn more about what working from home really looks like for Americans in 2022. Do they ever get dressed? Are they taking care of their hygiene? Are they actually productive? And are some workers even sleeping on the job?
To find out, we surveyed 3,000 Americans over the age of 25 who have experience working both from the office and at home. We asked about the comforts and challenges of WFH, including grooming and hygiene preferences, rest and relaxation, virtual meeting etiquette, pre-pandemic vs. post-pandemic clothing trends, and finally whether informal WFH clothing affected productivity.
Be advised — this isn’t your typical HR manager’s survey as we even asked respondents how often they worked from home on the toilet, and the responses might shock you.
Summary of Key Findings:
- 55% admit to wearing just their underwear during the workweek.
- A shocking 10% say they work naked or partially naked every single day.
- Only 42% wear office clothes at least three days per week at home.
- 33% said they wear just underwear at least three days per week.
- 55% admit to working naked or partially naked at some point during the workweek.
- 57% said they shower much less or the same amount when working from home.
- 64% claim they groom much less or the same amount when working from home.
- 62% said they go straight to their desk “somewhat often” or even more frequently than that without any grooming.
- 66% admit to working from the toilet at some point when working from home, and a shocking 12% admit to working from the toilet every single day.
- Only 10% of workers say their performance was sometimes poor because of wearing loungewear/pajamas.
- 65% of the respondents admit to taking a nap during working hours at some point during the week.
- 73% confess to making excuses to avoid using video because they weren’t groomed or dressed properly.
Now, let’s move into a full breakdown of our survey and the information gathered.
The Age-Old Dress Code Debate
If you’ve been in the workforce for many years, you might remember the office casual clothing revolution that began in the 1990s. As Inc. magazine explains, “The trend toward casual business attire began in the high-technology companies of California's Silicon Valley, where young computer and Internet entrepreneurs refused to wear business suits and often showed up at work in denim jeans and cotton t-shirts.”
The days of formal business wear mandates were gone before the pandemic, but business casual was still a step up from sweatpants and flip flops.
But to understand how big of a change we’ve seen in office attire vs. working at home attire, we asked respondents, “When you used to work from a physical office space, how often did you get dressed in office work clothes?”
A 66% majority said that they wore office work clothes at least three days per week, but the most common answer was “every single day.”
And here’s the actual per week rundown:
Pandemic-era pundits tell us that “Since your normal routine is interrupted when you work from home, it can help you feel more at ease to wear something a bit closer to what you'd normally wear at the office,” but the majority of our respondents are not buying it.
When asked, “When working from home, how often do you get dressed in your pre-pandemic office work clothes?,” only 42% wear office clothes at least three days per week at home, and the most common answer was “never,” said nearly 30% of respondents answering.
Check out the per week rundown:
With that in mind, let’s find out what people are actually wearing when they work from home
What to Wear? The Comforts of Working From Home
If business casual is not happening while working at home, what is the preferred attire? Sweatpants, loungewear, pajamas, underwear, or no clothes at all?
First, we asked, “When working from home, how often do you wear sweatpants or loungewear during the actual workday, instead of pre-pandemic office work clothes? A whopping 87% of the respondents admit to wearing sweatpants or loungewear during the workweek and 60% wear sweatpants or loungewear at least three days per week.
Next, we wondered if things could get even more casual, so we asked, “When working from home, how often do you wear just pajamas during the actual work day?” Shockingly, 73% of our survey-takers said that they indeed wear pajamas during the workweek and 43% confess that they’re doing so at least three days per week.
How about one step further? Are people wearing just their underwear while working from home? We asked, “When working from home, how often do you wear just underwear during the actual workday?” To our surprise, 55% said yes, while 33% said they wear underwear and nothing else at least three days per week.
And that brings us to a stunning statistic.
When respondents were asked how often they work naked or partially naked at some point during the work week, amazingly, 55% of the respondents admitted to doing just that.
Even more astonishing, 10% say they work naked or partially naked every single day.
If remote workers have all but abandoned traditionally accepted office clothes at home, are we witnessing another monumental shift in acceptable workplace attire as workers return to the office?
To find out, we asked respondents to describe how they feel about being forced to wear traditional work clothes to the office and if the traditional “office dress code” is outdated and unnecessary. Here we discovered a sharp split as 50% of the respondents said that they think traditional office clothes are outdated and unnecessary. Interestingly, only 12% strongly disagree and are in true favor of traditional office clothes.
We now know that what people wear when working from home is much different than most of us may have imagined. So, has WFH caused a similar, equally extreme change in grooming and hygiene as well?
Let’s take a look.
Are Grooming & Hygiene Still A Thing For At-Home Workers?
For many, taking that daily shower before work was mandatory. The same goes for hair styling, shaving, makeup application, and other grooming tasks that made us all look presentable at the office.
But for others, those days are done, as WFH has provided relaxed grooming and hygiene standards. But how far has this gone? Have at-home workers completely given up on self-care? Have they fallen into a trap of poor hygiene caused by their ability to stay home all day and remain isolated from coworkers?
To find out, we started by asking if hygiene has worsened when working a home.
58% say their hygiene has either worsened or stayed the same but has not improved, since starting to work from home.
Next, we dug a little deeper and asked if workers actually shower much less than they did when they worked in the office? Apparently yes, as 57% of the respondents said they shower much less or the same amount when working from home.
What about grooming specifically — hair brushing, shaving, hair styling, trimming nails, wearing makeup, or washing your face?
We found the same recurring trend as 64% of the respondents said they groom much less or the same amount when working from home.
And finally, what about that much-enjoyed short commute from bed to desk?
We asked, “When working from home, how often do you go straight from your bed to your desk without any grooming (hair brushing, shaving, hair styling, trimming nails, wearing makeup, washing your face, etc.)?”
Surprisingly, 62% of the respondents said they go straight to their desk “somewhat often” or even more frequently than that without any grooming and 82% admit that this is something they definitely do at some point during the workweek.
It also looks like basic oral hygiene has suffered during the WFH times as 53% of the respondents said they go straight to their desk “somewhat often” or even more frequently than that without brushing their teeth. On top of that, 74% admit that they get to work without brushing their teeth at some point during the workweek.
It’s clear that hygiene has changed for the worse for those working at home. But can we say the same about meeting etiquette and productivity?
Virtual Meeting Etiquette & Productivity During WFH
The Zoom display at your latest company-wide meeting might have looked something like this:
- Carefully and correctly attired participants against company-prescribed backgrounds.
- Technologically challenged workers seemingly staring up at the camera from weird angles.
- Still pics of employees inserted instead of a live view.
- Names only as some participants refused to use their cameras.
Despite many managers’ wishes that all employees use their video for every meeting, we wanted to know if at-home workers had any interest in granting those wishes to management.
Are at-home workers getting dressed, at all, for virtual meetings or are they keeping it cozy and comfy during video calls as well?
The answer is clear, as 67% of the respondents admit to wearing pajamas or underwear during virtual meetings. Even more surprising, only 33% say they have never done this.
A full 73% of the respondents also admitted to making excuses to avoid using video because they weren’t groomed or dressed properly — according to company standards — while just 27% say they have never made an excuse to avoid the video camera because of improper grooming or clothes.
All signs point to remote employees not caring about what they look like in virtual meetings compared to when they were in the office for in-person meetings. But we asked just to be sure.
The theme continues as 60% of the respondents say they care about what they look like less or the same amount, but not more, than when they were in the office for in-person meetings.
Even though on-camera Zoom appearances are preferred by managers — especially those who are fond of the team office environment — productivity concerns are still paramount as managers fret about the lack of control and the seeming result of worsened productivity with a dispersed and informally clothed at-home workforce.
We found, however, that the type of clothing worn did not affect the WFH ability to get things done. In fact, 75% of the respondents said their productivity was either fair, good, very good or excellent when wearing loungewear/pajamas during the workday.
Additionally, only 10% said their performance was poor because of wearing loungewear or pajamas.
Taking it a step further, we dared to ask, “When working from home, how often have you worked from the toilet?” Amazingly, 66% admit to working from the toilet at some point during a WFH workday.
Even more surprising, 12% admit to doing so every single day, and just 34% say they have never worked from the toilet.
Rest & Relaxation
We all know a coworker who closed their office door and dimmed the lights to take a power nap, but frankly, this practice was not that common.
According to InsideHook, “In the past, one’s (nap) options were pretty limited. You either worked on a flashy Silicon Valley campus where nap pods were ubiquitous (remember when those had a moment?) or you blatantly nodded off during your lunch break.”
The WFH movement has changed all that and we wanted to know the extent of illicit workday napping.
An impressive 65% of the respondents admit to taking a nap during working hours at some point during the week and 37% say they nap at least three or more days per week during working hours. And when asked “When working from home, how often have you missed a meeting or call because you were taking a daytime nap during working hours?,” 57% of the respondents admit to doing so and 10% say they typically miss a meeting or call every day because of a nap.
Clearly, workers will find the pandemic napping perk a tough one to give up if they return to the office.
Where Do We Go From Here?
The pandemic caused lots of unintended consequences. You could interpret our data to prove that the pandemic has radically changed our working habits. That’s not earth shaking news, but the revelation that we like to work at home in our underwear while on the toilet without brushing our teeth might make you sit up and pay attention.
Of course, it’s more complicated than that.
Many workers are more comfortable with the computer screen being a one-way communication tool and we find that Zoom meetings quickly move from a novelty to an annoyance.
Workers also dread commutes and the 60 second excursion from bed to office has been a great perk.
According to the Washington Post, “Time lost to commuting — once considered an unavoidable part of life — now feels unnecessary, many say.”
Well-publicized employee revolts against mandatory return-to-the-office policies like the one occurring at Goldman Sachs have been clearly documented:
“The bad boys of Goldman Sachs have found their movement: Just Say No to 5-0. The New York Post notes that the firm’s young bankers are beefing online about company policy calling them back to the office five days a week. (“5-0” is five days in the office and zero days at home — get it?”) “Nobody wants to be in 5-0,” wrote one staffer on the message board Blind, which requires a work email to log in and skews toward engineers, tech types, and now Goldman Sachs employees who are probably going to get fired.”
Return to the office mandates are occurring and more are inevitable. Pandemic-initiated perks like more informal dress codes and WFH flexibility will become the norm, at least until the employee/employer relationship meter tilts more toward employers.
With a possible recession on the horizon that could cause a rebalancing of the job market, many WFH perks may disappear more quickly than some are predicting.
But for now, workers are wearing what they want, caring much less about appearance, grooming and hygiene overall, and catching up on sleep during the work day — the true glory of working from home.
All data found within this report is derived from a survey by Shinesty conducted online via the survey platform Pollfish. In total, 3,000 Americans, ages 25+ were surveyed. The respondents were found via Pollfish’s age filtering feature and were screened to ensure they currently work from home either part-time or full-time. This survey was conducted over a three-day span from April 1-3, 2022. All respondents were asked to answer all questions as truthfully as possible and to the best of their knowledge and abilities.