43% of employed Americans now work remotely at least some of time, according to a Gallup survey released in February this year, with those who do work away from the office also doing so for, on average, longer periods of time. This shift is so pronounced that flexible scheduling and work-from-home opportunities are now far more likely to play “a major role” in a decision to take or leave a job, reflecting an increased emphasis on personal freedom, as well as the desire to spend more time with family.
An Online World
However, it’s not just women in traditional forms of employment that are finding new reasons to spend more time in the home. Numerous companies are choosing to emphasize the digital versions of their services, which means those who stay at home to provide home management or childcare are also more able than ever to reduce their travel time. Supermarket purchases can now be completed online and delivered to your door from stores like Safeway, the Bank of America will now allow you to manage your finances online, and you can use distance learning to learn a new language with apps like Duolingo; that’s all while working from home. Even companies usually associated with spare time now offer online services, such as Hippodrome Casino, which carries live blackjack and other casino games. However, while working from home offers the advantage of increased freedom, such as the ability to take conference calls in your underwear, it also comes with some unique disadvantages and limitations that it is important to know how to manage. Recent studies suggest that, though the lack of commute can greatly increase job satisfaction, those who work from home can also suffer from increased mental and physical fatigue.
Reduced movement and social interaction, as well as a lack of clearly defined structure, can all contribute to not only a reduction in your personal health but also in your efficacy as an employee. Here are just a few ways to keep healthy and happy if you choose to work from home.
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Though staying seated for long periods of time is also a risk for many office workers, doing away with your daily commute might mean completely scrapping the small amount of steps you were doing, having a significant effect on your physical health. In general, adults are advised to aim for approximately 10,000 steps a day in order to keep active, which means it is highly recommended to allocate time for at least 30 minutes physical activity a day to maintain the health of your organs. Making sure you get outside will also help to ensure you get adequate sunlight during the day, an important factor in regulating mood and your sleeping pattern. Sitting for long periods of time can also induce aches and pains, especially in bustier women who may already have upper back pain. Getting up every hour or so for five minutes of stretching can help to reduce this pain, although you may also want to take up yoga regularly in order to increase your flexibility and improve your posture.
Impose a Structure
Working from home can also make it far more difficult to maintain a proper work/life balance, something that is particularly important in managing stress levels. Try to decide before you start at what hour you will stop working and set yourself a regular lunch break too. Not working late into the night is one of many ways to improve your sleeping pattern and ensure that you always get a good 7 or 8 hours. You can also make sure that your lunch break doesn’t go on for too long, affecting the rest of your timetable for the day, by making your lunches in advance at the start of the week. Try to pick healthy whole-food ingredients, focusing on those that will help to reduce your stress level.
Research by Brigham Young University found that a lack of human interaction negatively affected health to the same degree as smoking 15 cigarettes a day! This means that, though you may not miss making small talk with your colleagues, it is still important to find a way to replace this regular source of social interaction in order to maintain your general health. Consider joining a local group for one of your hobbies or even just make time to see a friend at least once every other day and you will probably find that you are more productive after taking this short break.