How to Take a Healthier Approach to Home Working
It may help you to get the better of your challenging commute but home working doesn’t always get a good press when it comes to promoting healthy living. Whether you’re taking your everyday job home with you in order to work flexibly or you’re planning to explore your options as a freelancer, home working has many potential health hold ups. And, if you’re not careful they can build up and detract from benefits such as longer lie ins.
So, before you pack up your laptop and stationary, take a moment to consider how ensuring you take a healthier approach to home working can help you to reap its many rewards more effectively.
Design a great working environment
Are you hoping that home working will free you from hours in transit and exclude you from awkward office politics? Perhaps you’re planning to bypass some serious backache by typing away in the comfort of your own home? Home working or freelance life can help you to design a working environment that’s more finely attuned to your personal needs, but you could find that your freedom leaves you dangerously undisciplined.
When working from home it can be exceedingly tempting to roll out of bed ten minutes before your start time and sit down with your laptop on the sofa. If you do, you’ll likely be doing your productivity (and your back) a disservice. While not all jobs require a physical office and computer set up, failing to establish a dedicated working space will make it harder for you to psychologically clock in and out, which in turn can impede your productiveness and upset your work-life balance.
If you do have a spare room that can be used as study or working area, designating it a home office will likely help you focus. If you don’t have the luxury or a spare room to convert, perhaps you could sculpt a little space off another room? Bi-fold doors make a great partition, allowing light to enter a room and keeping noises and visitors out. Designs like these floor to ceiling doors from Vufold can be used to separate a small office space off a living room or dining room, for example. Once you have a space to call your own you can fit it out with ergonomic furniture that will help you avoid aches and pains. As an extra precaution, carry out regular desk assessments as you would in a work environment. Look at the positioning of screens in relation to your height and ensure you’re not twisted in your chair. It pays to beware of glare too, which can trigger eye problems and headaches. Take a look at this guide from Unison for extra guidance.
Introduce healthy habits
Falling out of bed a little later is a fantastic advantage of home working but it’s important not to unravel its benefits by working late and sacrificing your social life. Far too many home workers and freelancers find their working hours spiralling out of control even though they technically have more flexibility. Learning to say ‘no’ to clients or your boss is a key skill that will keep you healthy and sane when working at home.
Taking proper breaks and eating well is also a necessity. If you find you work better on a project uninterrupted you may find yourself skipping lunch and forsaking coffee breaks to get things finished more quickly but this can lead to burnout and impact on your health. If this sounds like your working style – plan ahead by keeping snacks and drinks on your desk and commit to taking at least one short walk for some fresh air every day.
Loneliness is another potential consequence of freelance and homeworking that can lead to more serious issues if left unchecked. Many studies including this one from the University of Amsterdam have identified social isolation as a potential contributor to depression. After a few months you may find you actually miss the office chat about last night’s TV but there are ways to remedy this; some could actually help you develop new skills and enhance your business or CV too! Perhaps the simplest way to maintain some social element to your day is arranging to meet people for lunch, a stroll or perhaps an exercise class during your working day.
Another option is to join an office environment now and again. If you’re working remotely this could mean visiting the office a few times each month. Or, many cities now have shared production space where you can join other workers to use offices and other facilities such as meeting rooms on a regular basis. You could for work from a shared space once each week. Signing up to an evening class or a regular business networking event is another way to ensure you get out and about as well as offering other benefits.
Do you work from home? What are your most and least healthy working habits?