I have been working from home for about five weeks now. It has been an adjustment, and I have read my fair share of articles about Work From Home tips to assist with this adjustment. Some tips I have found helpful; others not so much.
One common tip I have seen is to continue to dress as if you were going to the office. I have admittedly not followed this – trading out my dress shirt and dress pants (and occasional tie) for a hoodie and sweatpants on most days. Many are in this same situation. Normally bound by dress codes in the office, we suddenly do not have to adhere to these appearance expectations and can dress for comfort.
Of course, on the few occasions I have had video calls, I have made sure to dress professionally. Videoconferencing has introduced new questions about decorum. What should be in the background of a video call? What if someone hears my dog barking on a call? Can I wear shorts to a video meeting? (Yes, I know some friends wear a suit jacket and tie to virtual meetings with lacrosse shorts on because, presumably, they can only be seen from the waist up!)
Despite questions about videoconference attire, the general consensus has been, at the bare minimum, dress professionally from the waist up. This is especially true if you have a video call with the court. I have not had the occasion to videoconference with a judge, but I assure you that, if I did, I would wear a suit and tie (and maybe lacrosse shorts), just as if I were physically appearing in court (although without the shorts – definitely pants! And shoes!). Some attorneys in the great state of Florida, however, apparently disagree with this approach and have taken some liberty with their video conference attire – or lack thereof – in some instances!
Indeed, last week in a letter to the Weston Bar Association, Broward County Judge Dennis Bailey urged attorneys to get out of bed and wear a shirt for Zoom hearings! (You read that correctly!) In his letter, Judge Bailey wrote that attorneys had appeared for zoom hearings in casual shirts and blouses, and pool cover ups. He specifically noted that one male attorney appeared shirtless (?!!), and another attorney appeared to still be in bed (?!!!!) under the covers! Putting aside the complete and utter disrespect this shows for the court and the presiding judge, what attorney in their right mind actually thought that this would be appropriate or the least bit acceptable?!
We are all adjusting to what has become the new normal. Although there may be no dress code in your home office and dressing in comfort attire may feel liberating, let’s not take advantage of our current situation and push the bounds of appropriateness. Simply put, put a shirt on when you are on a video call with the judge! I don’t think that is too much too ask.