How to work from home healthier
Regardless of what the future holds, hybrid working (a combo of home and office environments) is likely here to stay for most “knowledge workers”. A global survey of 10,000 workers last November showed that 58% are engaged in hybrid working. This is the first time that hybrid working has passed 50%, and there are countless reports that show young workers in particular prefer it. This suggests that preserving hybrid work will be necessary to continue to attract talent.
When it comes to physical and mental well-being, working from home has its pros and cons. It likely allows you more flexibility to walk away from your desk, but it doesn’t come without sacrifices–for example, giving up proximity to a plethora of work out classes in your city’s business district or your favorite salad spot for lunch every day. The below list comprises some easy tips for building healthy habits when you work from home. And there’s no fancy standing desk or home gym required.
1. Drink water
Whether your office had a water cooler or a stocked fridge (shout out to the startup folks), we’re not as used to drinking water all day, every day when we work from home. Medical professionals recommend nearly 16 glasses of water a day for men and 12 for women. That means you should be drinking a glass of water nearly every hour you’re awake. There are a couple of tricks for making it happen. You can purchase a very large thermos that tells you how much you have to drink for the day and monitor your progress in real time; these have become increasingly popular as more people WFH. Or, if you like your glass constantly topped off, try downloading an app to monitor water intake. Plant Nanny gamifies the healthy habit so as you finish a glass it feeds you cute cartoon plant, which thrives along with you. Throwback to the Tamagotchi era!
2. Take walking meetings
When someone said they practiced “walking meetings” two years ago, it felt very New Age. These days, simply taking a conference call while on a brief walk outside can feel like a necessity — a way to escape screen fatigue and monotony and to get a little exercise and vitamin D. Here are two tips for making this healthy habit stick. First, invest in high quality headphones–preferably ones with a high quality microphone; your colleagues will quickly stop supporting this practice if they can’t hear you. Also, try enlisting a colleague to take up the practice with you — especially if it’s a close coworker you meet with often. Not only will it help shift the office culture so others try it, but when you’re on walking meetings separately but together, your colleague should be pretty forgiving of the sirens in the background.
3. Snack smart
Unless you worked at a company with a fully stocked pantry, it’s likely easier to snack at home than it was at the office. The key to ensuring you don’t regret the snacking you inevitably do while WFH is to stock your cupboard and fridge with healthy options. Avoid processed foods as best you can and get your sugar fix from fruit. If this is especially tough for you, trick your body into thinking your healthy options are treats–for example, freeze some berries and pop them like candy or substitute chips with carrots (same crunch, no grease). While some fitness buffs count their macros full time, try counting your macros for one week of WFH to learn how your nutritional intake is and adjust accordingly.
4. Squeeze in short workout routines
When working from home, your hours may have shifted to be more flexible, or it may have become more difficult to go to the gym before or after work. Take advantage of your quirky schedule to fit in quicker workouts than you were able to in the past. Maybe even supplement the AM or PM gym routine with an 11 AM yoga session in between meetings. The New York Times states that medical professionals say workouts of 10 minutes or less have significant health benefits, so they’ve compiled several routines. There are also some great apps that let you set your workout routine to the minute mark. Down Dog is a yoga app that allows you to choose the intensity level of your yoga and take a class that’s 10 minutes, 60 minutes or somewhere in between.
5. Set boundaries
This is as much about building a healthy habit as it is preventing you from falling into some bad ones. While working from home brings plenty of conveniences, one of the worst consequences is a feeling of a loss of boundaries. It can be all too easy to roll out of bed, into your computer chair and work through your meals until it’s time for bed. Experts recommend a couple of tips for setting boundaries when working from home. The first is to work out of a home office so it doesn’t feel like your work is permeating your space. If that isn’t possible, no problem. Try changing into “work clothes” when it’s time to start work and changing into “house clothes” (anything from athleisure to a different colored shirt) when it’s time to stop working to signal to your brain that the context is switching. Another way to put up boundaries is by establishing good communication with your team: align on “working hours” for everyone your work closely with and leverage tools like Slack and Google Calendar which can display your working hours so everyone knows when you’re AFW (away from the keyboard in WFH speak).
Khalid El Khatib is a Brooklyn-based writer and marketer who tweets too much.