Whether it is because of COVID or for other reasons, a large number of people around the world are increasingly finding themselves working from home ( aka work-from-home ).
According to research by Stanford University, approximately 42 percent of the working population works from home. Another 33 percent is looking for jobs and it is quite likely that when they find one, that too will be “work-from-home”.
So increasingly, most economies of the world are becoming work-from-home economies.
When starting out, work-from-home can seem exciting. One imagines the comfort of staying in one’s pajamas and working from one’s living room couch. But while work-from-home can seem an indulgence for a few days or weeks, after an extended period of time, the charm starts to wear off.
Not being able to meet other people can cause social deprivation. Lack of movement and abundance of snacking can cause one to put on weight. The absence of ergonomic chairs can cause one’s back, neck, and tail bone to ache. Having too much of the presence of one’s kids and partner can also begin to feel overwhelming.
But work-from-home need not be monotonous and difficult. Nor does it have to be detrimental to your health. Here is a list of five excellent ways, you may not have thought of, in which you can make your work-from-home experience more exciting, comfortable, and conducive to productivity and efficiency.
- Designate Your Workspace
The very first thing you need to do is designate a workspace within your home. If you have an extra room that can be used as an office, nothing like it! But even if you are using your living room or a shared space as your ‘office’, it can work, as long as you and your family mentally associate the spot as your workplace.
This means that while you are in your workspace, your family members don’t disturb you. It also means that when there, you focus entirely on your tasks for the day and check them off quickly. Avoid the temptation of getting a chore done, reaching for your phone to scroll your social media, or turning on your television to watch the news while you work.
You will be amazed at how efficiently you can get your workload out of the way when you can concentrate without distractions.
- Equip Your Home Office
Whether your home office is a separate room or merely your living room, make sure you have comfortable seating, because that is where you are going to spend a large part of the day.
You may not have an ergonomic chair lying around in your house. But the good news is that adding a good quality coccyx cushion to a regular chair can alleviate tail bone and lower backache. Especially, if you are going to sit on that chair for 6 to 8 hours a day. This will ensure that you are productive, focused, and free of pain.
If you are working out of your living room, invest in a superior living room chair that is designed to alleviate back pain. Such chairs are aesthetically pleasing, comfortable and will be useful for many years, even after you return to your real office.
- Reach Out
One of the biggest setbacks of working from home can be the inability to socialize with people. One can’t chat with a colleague at the coffee machine, merely stroll into the boss’s cabin for a discussion or share jokes with a fellow worker.
Socializing while working from home takes a little bit of extra effort, but can have huge payoffs. Over-communicate with your seniors and colleagues to avoid miscommunications. Reach out over a phone call when endless emails are unhelpful at arriving at an agreement.
Apart from one’s colleagues, it helps to even talk to friends and family after work hours. And it is proven by scientific research – one is more productive when one feels happy1.
- Work while you work out!
As one falls into a comfortable routine of working from home, it can be tempting to stay on one’s chair or couch for hours at an end, while munching on easily available snacks at home. The result is that a number of people find themselves putting on weight while they work from home.
In fact, according to research by Italian scientists, about half the people staying at home during the COVID lockdown reported gaining weight2.
A standing desk can keep one on one’s toes, quite literally! Even better, consider investing in a treadmill with an inbuilt screen. You can work or attend longer team meetings while staying on the move! This can help you avoid backaches associated with sitting for long hours while burning calories and staying fitter!
What’s more, working won’t feel monotonous any longer and working out won’t seem like a separate chore to be completed at the end of a long day!
- Take Breaks!
As opposed to the common impression that people working from home tend to take multiple breaks due to distractions, many workers find themselves glued to their desks from morning to evening. This can lead to burnout.
At a real workplace, there are team meetings, lunch breaks, discussions, and various other reasons that help workers get away from their screens. But when one is working from home, it is very easy to fall into the rhythm of even eating one’s meals at one’s desk, while working.
Having a schedule can help one ensure that proper breaks are taken. Stand up and stretch after a 30 to 45-minute work session. Make sure to walk around the house once every few hours. Speak to a friend, colleague, or partner while enjoying your lunch.
Getting some fresh air in one’s balcony, garden, or even beside an open window can work wonders to rejuvenate the soul. These little breaks help workers return to their tasks with more focus, improved motivation, and increased creativity.
Every individual has different interests and motivations. Don’t hesitate to use a trial and error method to arrive at what works best for you. Perhaps you are more productive in a quiet office space, or instead in the midst of your living room. You may be more comfortable on an office chair, or even a recliner! You may like to stand or even walk on a treadmill while you work.
Open your mind to the possibilities and try new approaches. Stick with whatever feels right. While working from home has its challenges, it also allows for huge flexibility. Make sure you take complete advantage of that!
- Oswald, Andrew J.; Proto, Eugenio; Sgroi, Daniel (2009) : Happiness and productivity, IZA Discussion Papers, No. 4645, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), Bonn
- Di Renzo L, Gualtieri P, Pivari F, et al. Eating habits and lifestyle changes during COVID-19 lockdown: an Italian survey. J Transl Med. 2020;18(1):229. Published 2020 Jun 8. doi:10.1186/s12967-020-02399-5