Working from home (or, indeed, Anywhere) is no longer a niche business practice. In fact, telecommuting has grown 115% in the past decade. To anyone already working outside the office, this will come as no surprise. A recent FlexJobs survey revealed that 90% of people working Anywhere plan to continue to do so for the rest of their careers.
The benefits to employees are well-known. 65% of workers stated they would be more productive in a home office than in a traditional office space. And that’s not just wishful thinking; of those already working from home, 75% say they are more productive now than when they worked onsite at a company.
But those benefits come with new responsibilities. Working outside the traditional office environment requires creating a safe, comfortable workspace. Staying healthy within that workspace, however, can be challenging. That’s why we’ve put together our top five tips on staying healthy when working from home.
1. Establish a realistic home exercise routine
Keeping fit and working from home are by no means mutually exclusive. In fact, flexible working can free you up to pursue an exercise plan that you wouldn’t otherwise have time for.
Try to develop a sensible, safe exercise regime you can follow in your home. There are hundreds of five-minute workout sessions available online to keep you fit during work breaks.
Exercise doesn’t have to be particularly physical; it could be as simple as taking a walk around your local park. The key focus is to keep routines safe, achievable and manageable. Short exercise breaks also help break up the day, creating a healthy balance between physical and mental activity.
Of course, the benefits of staying healthy working Anywhere extend beyond the team. A recent study by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that running 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of depression by 26%. Leaders also gain from the increased happiness and productivity that comes from employees in good physical and mental health.
2. Devise a healthy diet (and stick to it)
Without going into the ‘several small meals vs breakfast/lunch/dinner’ debate, it’s vital to maintain a healthy diet when working from home. Our diet plays a significant role in our mental and physical health.
Keep food separate from your workspace to avoid snacking throughout the day. The trick is to make eating a conscious aspect of your daily routine. That means assigning pre-designated times for meals and sticking to them. The same goes for staying hydrated. Keep a bottle of water by your workspace at all times and remember to top it up throughout the day.
Of course, team leaders can’t dictate what their team eat. When your team works from home, all you can do is promote the virtues of a healthy, balanced diet. And it’s in both the interest of the individual and the business. In fact, a study by the British Journal of Health Psychology found that people who eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables 4 days a week show 25% higher job performance than those who do not.
3. Stay safe to work smart
So, you’ve got your diet and your exercise routine down. Now it’s time to make sure your workspace is safe. That means removing trip hazards, ensuring your work area is well-lit and verifying all devices are powered safely.
Safety isn’t limited to protecting yourself from immediate danger. It’s also important to ensure your workspace and equipment are ergonomic. For instance, is your computer at a comfortable height? Does your chair provide proper lumbar support? It might seem like a minor inconvenience now, but it could develop into a long-term health issue if left unchecked.
For team leaders, ensuring the safety of your team when they work Anywhere comes down to one thing: education. Establishing the best practices for safe workspaces fosters trust and creates a more relaxed atmosphere. In turn, this enables people to focus on working to the best of their abilities. This also reduces the risk of physical injury or impairment, meaning less time off.
4. Maintain connection and communicate anywhere
Buffer, a fully-distributed team, published a report last year into employee attitudes to working from home. 21% of those surveyed say the biggest challenges are collaborating, communicating and finding company.
So how do you stay connected without a centralised shared office? Setting aside time to leave your home workspace is essential. Even taking your laptop to a nearby cafe can be enough to mix up your work environment and interact with new people.
It’s not always possible to interact with new people in person. But, with the right collaboration tools, you can work from home and engage with people across the world, without the carbon footprint. These meet-ups are essential to team cohesion, but more importantly, they decrease isolation.
To that end, consider pairing up team members in a ‘buddy’ system. Employees can check in on each other, while employers enjoy improved team communication and happier, healthier employees.
5. Take time for your wellbeing
A recent survey by Premiere Global Services, Inc. of their telecommuters found that 82% reported lower stress levels when working from home. But that’s only when employees have a clear idea of what’s expected of them.
Working from home can blur the lines between work time and leisure time, so it’s vital you establish boundaries before starting work. This way, you have clear time frames in which you know you should be at your computer. Simultaneously, you have a clearer definition of ‘me-time’ in which to relax.
Team leaders must recognise the boundaries between work and leisure time. Sending an email at 11 pm to request work (unless agreed in advance) infringes on other teammates’ personal time. By blurring the boundary between work and leisure, you also risk encouraging the view that working hours are optional; something that invariably leads to missed deadlines and inefficient time management.
This article originally appeared in AnywhereWorks.