At first glance, the advantages of working from home seem to outweigh the disadvantages. Short commute to work, no distractions from colleagues. But those who are not properly prepared for it will soon begin to notice the disadvantages. SWICA's occupational health management team provides some ideas on how to work productively and effectively from home.
Set up your desk appropriately
An unsuitable workplace – whether at home or in the office – can lead to physical health problems in the long run. We therefore recommend that you explore all the options for setting yourself up as well as possible. For example, you can use furniture, such as a chest of drawers or an ironing board, and turn it into a standing desk. We also recommend that you change your posture regularly so as to take strain off the same areas of your body. Using an external keyboard and mouse allows you to gain distance to the laptop and to better adjust it to your requirements. A good chair and correct posture are also important: Keep your knees at a 90 to 100 degree angle and make sure there are two to four finger widths between the edge of the chair and the back of your knees.
Get enough exercise
Make sure you get enough exercise when working from home (see Fit and healthy while working from home
- Do a set of exercises once a day that include a mix of strengthening, endurance and flexibility.
- Enter your regimen as a fixed item in your daily agenda. The best idea is to make a note of which exercises you want to do, how often and for how long.
- Do short exercises in between as a way of counteracting tension, for example by stretching and using your joints.
- Think about what might get in the way of doing these exercises and find ways to not let that happen.
Reduce your calories
Does working from home nevertheless reduce the overall amount of exercise you get? If so, try to lower your calorie intake. For example, you can choose low-energy foods (less than 200 kilocalories per 100 grams, look for the information on the packaging). Unprocessed (fresh) food usually has fewer calories and no additives. Vegetables, too, are low in calories and high in vitamins and provide plenty of fibre. Proteins are also important because they help us to maintain muscle, boost our metabolism and keep us from feeling hungry. Lean meat, fish, eggs and dairy products are good sources of protein.
Keep the team spirit
People tend to feel isolated when working from home. But there are ways to counteract this:
- Meet your team regularly by using a video channel.
- Use video to share information with team colleagues (e.g. by taking coffee breaks together).
- Call team members instead of emailing them.
Studies confirm the positive effect that clothes can have on our state of mind. It therefore helps to dress the same at home as you would for the office. Changing clothes in the morning and evening can help you to switch between being at work and being at home. Furthermore, rituals such as taking a short walk after work or tidying up your desk can help to separate your work life and private life. You may also find it easier to physically separate your desk and to use it only for work; in other words, don't take documents from the desk to the living room.
Further information can be found in the health tip "Occupational psychology when working from home
The importance of managing your time
When you plan your work (and breaks), think about when you are at your best and strike a good balance between the important aspects of being disciplined and taking care of your own needs. Consider entering your personal appointments in the calendar as well. Use a separate room for online meetings so that you and your family are undisturbed. In the team, set some rules for meeting online (e.g. start and end times, the agenda, who participates). Meet spontaneously only in exceptional cases, as this can cause stress.
Use microbreaks as a way to relax
We need regular breaks to stay focused and efficient. Planned breaks will increase your motivation and give you structure – but don’t use a break to do household chores, unless they help you to relax. Microbreaks (Health tip: "Microbreaks – bringing variety to everyday working life
) not only help you to relax, they can also energise you. Ideally you should take a microbreak after an hour of concentrated work:
- Get up, open a window and take a few deep breaths.
- Take your eyes off the screen and close them, or turn to look into the distance.
- And why not drink something and stretch a few times.
SWICA is there for you
Do you have any questions about our OHM services, or would you like to arrange a personal consultation? SWICA's OHM team would be delighted to help you online or by phone. Call free of charge on 0800 80 90 80 or complete the form below