As technology continues to advance and we find new ways of improving our productivity, many Brits are choosing to work from home these days. In fact, there’s about 1.3 million of us embracing the work from home lifestyle.
When you hear the words ‘work from home’ you might automatically picture working from your couch, your kitchen table, or even your bed. And while you might be tempted to do this the odd time, it’s important that you create the right environment to help you look after your physical and mental health while at home. We’ve put together this guide to working from home to give you some helpful tips to improve your experience.
Making space for your work
When you work from home it means you have the opportunity to work, well, almost anywhere in your home. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. If it’s something that you’re going to be doing long-term, you need to create a space where you can easily switch on and off from work. After all, it’s all about getting the balance right.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a whole room or an abundance of spare space available, there are plenty of ways that you can create a workspace almost anywhere. Let’s have a look at them now…
Whether you have an entire room or not, all you really need to get started is a desk and chair and an area in your home where you won’t be distracted by other things. Where possible, avoid working in your bedroom as it could cause you to have poor sleep. And we all know a well-rested mind works better than a tired one.
Choose an area that is well lit. Better yet, try to find an area that is near as much natural light as possible so you won’t have to strain your eyes to see what you’re doing. Be careful to avoid sitting with a window directly behind or in front of you. If necessary, invest in a desk lamp for dark mornings and cloudy days.
Taking care of your physical health
Creating a good working environment isn’t just about your workspace. You also need to think about your health and how it could be impacted by the way you work from home. Your desk, chair and monitor could all contribute to poor physical health if you’re not careful.
Ideally, you want to avoid working from your kitchen table, your lap, or any other side tables and surfaces you may have round the house. Of course, it’s fine to do if it’s every now and again but working like this long term could encourage your body to slump, which puts a strain on your body and could cause health issues.
So, if possible, try to get a proper desk to work from. You want it to be the right height for you so you’re not slumping or overreaching when using it. As well as that, think about any other needs you might have, like storage, space for a second monitor or maybe a lamp.
Remember to think about your back when choosing your chair. One that’s adjustable could help you to keep your back supported throughout the day and help you to avoid developing back pain.
When working, try to position yourself so that you can use the keyboard with your wrists and forearms straight and level with the floor. As well as that, your elbows should be by the side of your body, forming an ‘L’ shape and your knees should be slightly lower than your hips. With this posture, you can help prevent repetitive strain injuries. Try to avoid crossing your legs, this will help to keep your posture aligned properly.
Position your screen directly in front of you and an arm’s length away. The top of the screen should be in line with your eye level. Remember to position your screen in a place that won’t be reflecting sunlight or other light sources which could cause eye strain.
Taking care of your mental health
Making sure you’re looking after your mental health is just as important as caring for your physical health. And while working from home can have a lot of upsides, like no long commute and flexible hours, it could still be a shock to settle into your new routine. Don’t worry though, it’s perfectly normal to feel this way when experiencing a change. Let’s have a look at some things you could do to help keep your mental health in top shape while working from home…
Try to create a routine for yourself as soon as possible. Waking up and going to sleep, getting ready, and eating meals at the same time each day can help you to establish a boundary between work and home life. To make the transition to working from home easier, you might want to create a routine that’s similar to what you would do if you were going to an office.
Believe it or not, it’s easy to forget to take breaks when you’re working from home. Whereas before, you may have gone for some fresh air or a quick coffee with a colleague, now you might not feel the time passing and forget to take a breather. Taking regular breaks will give your body a rest as well as keeping your mind fresh. So why not try taking a walk on your lunch break to break up your day?
It’s important to remember to stay connected to people when working from home. If you’re used to a busy office or working environment, working from home could feel lonely at times. But you’re not alone. Reach out to colleagues, keep in touch with family and friends and try to interact with people outside of your home often.
Making positive changes
When you start working from home, it could be a great opportunity to start working on making some positive changes to your lifestyle. Small, everyday changes could make a big difference to your health and happiness. Let’s have a look at some things you could try to help keep you in good shape…
Eating a healthy diet
When you’re settling into your new routine, you could find that you’re eating at different times and you may be snacking more often. Try to stick to your new eating times to help you adjust to this change and make it easier to get used to your new routine.
If you want to cut back on snacking, try to avoid having too many unhealthy foods in the house. Instead, go for something healthy, like some fruit or veggies.
Without the commute to work, you could find that your step-count has gone down. So it’s important to make an effort to be active regularly during the week. It could be as simple as a walk on your lunch break, or something a bit more intense like a gym class. Whatever it is, every little can help.
According to the NHS, we Brits need to drink about 1.2 litres of water a day. That’s just six to eight glasses. Your body needs water to work properly and to avoid becoming dehydrated. When you’re dehydrated you can feel tired, dizzy and lightheaded. So do yourself a favour, and drink water regularly.
Whether working from home is something you plan on doing long term or just for a short while, it’s important to make sure you’re looking after your health and taking the right steps to protect yourself.
You might assume that you’ll always be as healthy as you are now but unfortunately, that’s not always the case. When looking to the future, you might want to think about how your loved ones would cope if you were to fall ill or if the worst were to happen to you. Life insurance with critical illness cover could offer you some peace of mind knowing that if the worst did happen, you’d have a safety net to catch you.
As the saying goes, ‘your health is your wealth’. Whatever the future may hold, taking steps now to help keep everything in working order and making sure your loved ones are protected could make a world of difference down the line.