Perhaps you currently work from home? Or are you in the market for working from home jobs? You’re undoubtedly going to hear from friends and family all about how lucky you are to work from the comfort of your house – but not many people realise the implications being at home for your working day can have on your health, well-being and productivity.
We’ll look at the myths of working from home, what they mean in reality and offer some tips on how to keep your brain and body on the productive working-from-home path.
“You get to spend extra time in bed!”
This is of course true, especially if you live in a location that would otherwise mean a big commute to the office. There are a couple of downsides though – firstly, the morning routine is the way many people start their day, without it, it can be difficult to ‘get going’. Secondly, extra time in bed might feel like a bonus, but being sedentary for long periods of time can have a big impact on your mental well-being.
Research shows that people who don’t keep a morning routine can find it more difficult to focus on work tasks throughout the day. While many people would disagree with the next research finding – experts say it’s also possible to have too much sleep, and doing so can contribute to a number of physical and mental health issues.
- Try to keep a normal ‘working day’ – even if your work means strange hours.
- Try to avoid getting straight out of bed and into your office.
- Get dressed for work and do your normal morning routine to get your brain into work mode.
“You get to avoid all the office politics!”
Depending on the kind of person you are, not having people around you all day can be either a blessing or a curse. If you enjoy your own company then being alone most of the day can be great and productive – however, if you bounce off others and rely on them for your energy, it can be pretty soul zapping to sit at home all day.
There is of course still the phone to keep you connected to people all day – this doesn’t quite cut the mustard for real interactions though, people will tend to only call and email when they want something from you.
- Try hard to take breaks and a lunch time – if you can, step out of the house during these times, ideally to somewhere you can have some lunch and be around people, even if that’s just a park or bench with your lunchbox!
- If you’re feeling isolated, call, Facetime or Skype someone, psychologists say that seeing a person’s face can elevate your mood far greater than just hearing their voice.
“You can get all the jobs done at home!”
There’s definitely some benefit to be had when you’re at home all day – there are some quick jobs that you can do that make little or no impact on your day, such as putting a load of washing in – and you’ll never miss a parcel delivery again! However, it’s easy to get sucked into the trap of thinking that you’re at home and therefore feeling like you should be doing home tasks.
Even if you feel like you can manage some jobs around the house while you work, be careful that you’re not losing important focus on what you’re being paid to do. Where procrastinating in an office is difficult, it’s easy to lose track of your priorities at home – if there’s a call you don’t want to make, rearranging your sock drawer can begin to look quite appealing…
- Making a work schedule can help, feel free to add little household jobs in to your day – but try to quickly come back to the task at hand.
- Creating a solid understanding about your role with family and loved ones can be useful – for those who don’t work at home there might be no reason you can’t do the ironing as you take a conference call – agree some realistic expectations early.
“I bet sitting in your house all day is great!”
Again, there’s some element of truth to be had, being in an environment you like can be a bonus – but missing out on the commute will further take away from the little activity that most office workers already struggle with – and seeing the same 4 walls for your entire working day can remove some of the variety that gives life a little zest, sometimes leading to reduced mood and energy.
It can be tempted to sit at your desk all day – and sometimes you’ll have done less than 100 steps between getting up and sitting down at your computer. As a result, home workers report greater levels of back-pain, headaches and diminished energy.
- Buy a chair that’s designed for your ergonomic comfort – rather than just looking good in your office. Try not to just repurpose a dining room chair, and don’t be tempted to sit on your sofa with your laptop on your lap.
- Putting some music or a radio station on can liven up the mood in your office.
- Try to get as much natural light into your working area, dull environments can significantly impact a person’s mood.
Looking after yourself overall
Because there’s often no one to look over your shoulder, home workers can find themselves in bad habits very quickly. You may quite-rightly have no one to answer to, but that doesn’t mean you should let an overly sedentary and lacklustre attitude set in. As someone who works from home you should try as much as you can to keep an objective view of how you spend your time.
If it helps to motivate you, set some times through the week when you work in coffee shops or even the local library. It’s easy to find an internet connection in most public places and getting out of the house can have a positive impact on your brain and body.