In October 2020, Your Creative co-founder Lauren Crystal wrote an article for Women’s Agenda about incorporating wellness into the “work from home” normal.
Almost a year later, with part of Australia still in lockdown (Victoria currently in its sixth), the road to returning to the office looks a little hazy, but that doesn’t mean your health and wellbeing should suffer as a result.
We’re revisiting Lauren’s original article to share with you five tips to establish a good work-life balance while working from home.
Incorporating wellness into your “work from home” normal
Whether you’ve been based in your home office long before COVID-19 restrictions, or you’ve only been working remotely as a result, it’s no secret that there are particular challenges that come with working from home, especially when it comes to your health.
The excessive number of enticing snacks in the kitchen, the lack of social stimulation and the temptation to work in an ergonomically unsound position can all sabotage an otherwise upstanding worker’s best wellness intentions.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, almost half of the Australian population has spent time working from home since the COVID-19 lockdowns, and experts believe a significant percentage of these workers will stay there for the longer term. However, a report from The Centre for Future Work has found that many of these Australians working remotely have been, on average, completing an extra four to five hours of work every week for free.
Not only is working extra hours damaging to mental health, but it’s also a nasty habit that affects workers’ overall wellbeing. In order to combat workplace burnout, here are five ways to incorporate wellness into your WFH routine.
Studies have shown that workers who take regular breaks are more satisfied with their jobs and less likely to seek employment elsewhere.
Taking regular breaks should always be part of your work schedule, both at the office and while working from home.
Whether you squeeze in a quick pilates session, or simply read a chapter of that book you haven’t finished, wellness breaks allow your brain to take a much needed rest and promote productivity.
2) Clean up your workspace
Did you know that a clean work environment improves an employee’s sense of health and wellbeing?
According to research, 90 per cent of employees reported being more productive and motivated in a clean workplace. The same study found that 74 per cent of office workers said they produced a higher quality of work in a clear work environment.
While working from home, a worker’s space can fluctuate depending on the environment they’re in. Some workers are lucky enough to have a dedicated desk, while others work from their couch or kitchen bench.
No matter where you work, it’s important to make sure it’s clear of clutter and mess in order to complete your tasks to the best of your ability.
3) Drink more water
Drinking a sufficient amount of water during your workday is just as important as getting an optimal amount of sleep before it starts.
The symptoms of dehydration can make it more challenging to focus, which can make any work task more difficult to complete successfully. Additionally, your level of alertness will falter and your reaction times will slow down.
In fact, if your level of dehydration reaches three per cent or more, you may be impaired to the same level of someone who has a blood alcohol level above the legal driving limit.
Drinking water can seem like a relatively simple task, yet many Australians still struggle with it. In fact, over 80 per cent of adults in Australia suffer chronic dehydration, drinking only 1.29 millilitres of water on average per day.
In order to help increase your water consumption, consider setting yourself goals throughout your day. Determine how much water is suitable based on your weight and reward yourself once you hit those targets.
4) Eat well and stay active
When you spend several hours a day at home working, it pays to make those hours healthy ones for both the body and the mind. Making some simple, smart choices throughout your work day can help boost your creativity and productivity, while reducing fatigue and minimising stress.
Vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats will provide you with a steady source of energy throughout the workday, while offering the nutrition you need for long term health.
Eat your lunch outside, or away from your desk, and try to refrain from checking your emails or doing work in the process.
Our bodies are meant to move frequently, and that includes more than just planned exercise. If you sit at your laptop all day, make a point to move at least every hour.
Get up to fill your water bottle, go and talk to your roommates, partner or family members, do a few stretches, or step outside to take a short walk.
5) Check in with your colleagues
Finally, while working from home, it can often be difficult to stay connected with your colleagues, apart from the occasional Zoom meeting.
Make a conscious effort to talk to them and discuss things outside the work realm, just like you would at the water cooler.
Or just shoot them a message asking them if they’re okay. You never know who’s having a tough time in lockdown, so it’s important to check in with your colleagues and let them know they’re not alone.