Like many people, my first experience of working from home was during the pandemic. One minute, I was used to working in an office and the next I had to get to grips with Zoom and working at home. A natural extrovert, I always assumed that working from home would not be for me. But to my surprise, I discovered it really suited my family life and I was actually far more productive.
Despite the fact I love working from home and it really works for me, there are some downsides to it. This means I need to look after my physical and mental wellbeing in new ways than before. Take a look below at my top 5 tips for working from home and your wellbeing.
5 tips for better working from home
1. Don’t stop moving!
Not having a daily commute means I don’t always get to begin my day with a walk. And if I have a big project going on? It becomes really easy for me to spend hours sitting at my desk and without moving. We all know that exercise is good for our bodies, but it is also good for our minds.
With that in mind, one of my top wellbeing tips for working from home is to get outside during your break times. As well as making you healthier, it will also help with your focus and will give you more energy for work.
Try going for a walk in the morning before you start the day. Or, take a lunchtime walk to clear your head. Stroll to the shops to get some fresh fruit for your lunch.
You could even do a quick 15-minute exercise video before you eat your lunch. Or, why not walk briskly up and down the stairs a few times?
Make sure you get up regularly and walk to the kitchen for a glass of water or a cup of tea. Try having some quick stretches between meetings.
You don’t have to invest in costly exercise equipment, but sometimes people give away exercise bikes. A skipping rope can be a cheap way of getting a few minutes of cardio in.
2. A workspace of one’s own
When working from home, creating a space where you can work well and comfortably is so important. Working from your bed or the sofa can be sofa, but it can be really bad for your posture.
You also need a place to get yourself into work mode and create your own mini-office. You might be lucky enough to have a spare room that you can convert into a home office. Or you could use use a corner of your bedroom.
If you don't have space for a separate desk, there are plenty of space-saving options. You could even use the dining room table.
Another of our working from home wellbeing tips is to make sure you have a good computer chair. Why? Good posture is so important. If you don’t have one, speak to your employer and see if they will provide you with one.
Try and ensure that wherever you choose to set up your workspace it is as quiet as possible. I find it useful to be able to close the door when other people are home. Even having “Do not disturb” sign for when I have meetings is handy.
Get a houseplant for your office space. Did you know that some houseplants can purify the air? Some great plants to spruce up your office include; English ivy, a snake plant, aloe vera, spider plant.
3. Take a break!
Yes, this sounds like an obvious one but probably the thing I am worst at doing. Even when I worked in an office, I was really bad at taking proper lunch breaks. Instead I would dine “al desko” at least a few times a week! However, taking regular intervals prevents burnout and actually helps improve your work.
When working from home, I use some of my break to make a healthy lunch or a quick fruit smoothie. With a bit of planning, you can make sure you have a nice lunch and give yourself a well-deserved break!
Don’t feel guilty for leaving your workspace during your allocated break time. Taking breaks are important for your mental health and prevent straining at the computer. Leave your workspace and spend some time reading a book or sitting in the garden during your break.
4. Stay connected
Working from home can be a bit lonely sometimes, so it's important to stay connected with other people. Organise virtual coffee or lunch breaks with other colleagues who work from home.
Why not use online messengers to have chats with colleagues? For our team, we have a channel that is primarily used for social purposes. We don’t use it all the time but it is nice to dip in when you’re feeling lonely. Having chats throughout the day can improve your mood and help you feel more connected to the outside world.
Working on something and need some advice from others? Instead of sending an email, why not ask if you can have a video call for 15 minutes? It helps build relationships and gives you a break from email.
If you’re struggling with isolation and just need to be around other people, look for co-working spaces that you can use occasionally or just find a friendly café with good internet access. Sometimes it is good to just have a change of scenery.
5. Set boundaries between work and home
If I want to prevent burnout and put my family first, it’s important not to blur the boundaries between work and home life. This could be as simple as making sure you stick to your work hours, turning off notifications after a certain time, or even having a 'commute' home (going for a walk after work).
I like to set an alarm to tell me when I’ve worked more than 15 minutes over my normal working day. Whilst I don’t always stick to it (there’s always the snooze button), the alarm does remind me that I do need to stop working at some point.
These are just a few ways of boosting your wellbeing. I won’t pretend that I am perfect at these but I am trying to get better at taking a healthier approach to work. Try to find small and manageable ways to improve your working-from-home life, the only person who can make it better is you!
Start using these working-from-home habits now and you'll not only improve your wellbeing, but you'll also improve your work.