Wellbeing when working from home
Just as offices were starting to open up and life had started to feel a little more normal, Lockdown 2 arrived, and the government asked us to work from home again.
The first Coronavirus lockdown divided home workers into two distinct camps – those who found home working delivered real advantages, and those who found it difficult.
Whichever group you belong to, there are some important steps to take to make sure working from home has a positive effect on your wellbeing, not a negative one. Here are 6 ways to boost your wellbeing while working from home.
1. Healthy workstation
Most companies invest in ensuring that office-based workstations meet strict standards – so you should do the same at home. Poor body positioning at work can cause neck and back pain and repetitive strain injury to the hands and wrists.
The NHS has provided tips on how to set up your desk, which include sitting so that your thighs and arms are parallel with the floor, that your lower back is supported and your monitor is at eye level. You may need to invest in an office chair to give you the right support – or ask your employer to.
2. Dedicated work area
Those working from a sofa, breakfast bar or even their bed are often those that find remote working the most challenging. Psychologically it is beneficial to limit your work to a single location in your home – and ideally be able to close a door on it outside office hours.
Setting up a dedicated desk area away from the busiest areas in your home will help you avoid distraction. The potential for someone walking in on an important Zoom call can be highly stressful!
3. Healthy routine
When there is no physical separation between your home and your office, it’s easy to get into bad habits. Establishing a good working routine is important. Decide on your ‘office hours’ and stick to them. Don’t be tempted to answer a few emails before breakfast – you’ll look up and realise it’s time for lunch.
Make sure you get up at least an hour before you start work and be sure to close your computer down at a set time each evening. Take regular breaks throughout the day – including a decent lunch break. Don’t eat at your desk – ideally, get outside for a walk to stretch your legs.
4. Connect with your colleagues
In an office environment there are hundreds of little interactions with others throughout the day – a quick question, a chat while making coffee, a phone call. Many of these are work focused, but many aren’t. Humans are social creatures, and we gain a lot more from a conversation than an email trail. As the pandemic continues, people are sharing their feelings of loneliness working from home. Subtleties are missed in written communication, so pick up the phone and video conference with others as much as you can. You’ll feel better connected, valued and more motivated to work.
5. Take time to exercise
We all know that exercise is fundamental to our wellbeing – yet it’s all too easy for it to slip. The danger for home workers is that there is little reason to move at all – no running for the train, no walking between buildings, no trips to the sandwich shop.
Advice, again from The NHS, stresses it’s more important than ever to take some daily exercise. A run, a walk, a bike ride, a yoga video… not only will a workout help you feel physically good, but the effect on your mental health is enormous too.
6. Reach out
If you’re finding things difficult – whether work related or emotionally, speak to your manager. Research conducted in June 2020 by The Office for National Statistics, suggested that levels of depression doubled since the beginning of the pandemic, and remote working is challenging for many of us.
A good manager will listen to your concerns and find ways to reduce your workload or find you additional support to help you cope. Wellbeing is fundamental to our health and happiness – so it should always be your first priority.
Useful further reading