Working from home became the new norm this past year, with companies extending the work-from-home order even after rates of COVID-19 transmission declined. While you would think that the concept of work-from-home (WFH) would ease the stress of being physically present at work, studies have actually shown that the transition to WFH has been associated with a decline in both physical and mental health. Below, we outline some evidence-based tips to help improve your mental and physical health while simultaneously boosting productivity when working from home.
- Have a dedicated workspace
Separating work from home is essential. Studies have shown that having a dedicated workspace is associated with increased productivity levels compared to those who do not. Sharing workstations with a spouse or with children who attend school remotely, for example, or setting up make-shift desks at the couch or kitchen table can inevitably lead to distractions. In fact, an increase in new physical and mental health issues has been associated with the work-life strain caused by increased distractions in the home. Not having a dedicated workspace can disrupt the work experience, increase family-work conflicts, and diminish productivity. While it may not be possible for everyone to have their own office, even having your own desk can help to create physical boundaries, establish a productive work atmosphere, increase the number of productive hours at the workstation, and serve as a sign to not be distracted by other house members.
- Organize your workstation
Nothing is worse than a messy desk. Not only is it unpleasant and overwhelming to look at, but it can be very stressful and time consuming when you can’t find what you need under an unorganized pile of papers, leading to lost productivity. Using paper filers, pen cups, paper clips, and sticky notes can help compartmentalize the items on your desk. To browse our office organization supplies, click here!
- Optimize your work environment
Believe it or not, everything from the lighting, temperature, background noise, ventilation, and even air quality may affect your work performance. Working under unsatisfactory environmental conditions can have detrimental effects on both physical and mental well-being, while also decreasing overall work performance. To optimize your work environment by adjusting the temperature to your liking, adding a humidifier to your workspace, ensuring proper lighting, and setting up your workspace far from loud noises such as the TV. Further, increasing sunlight exposure can reduce fatigue and increased workers’ performance by 13%. Improvements in indoor air quality and thermal conditions such as temperature and humidity can also increase attention and concentration, and are thought to be the most influential environmental parameters affecting productivity. As satisfaction with the work environment increases, so does productivity.
- Invest in ergonomic equipment
Is your workspace ergonomic? One study found that more than 50% of home workers do not take ergonomics into consideration when setting up their home office space. Poor body mechanics due to lack of a proper physical workstation can lead to increased discomfort and pain. Our laptop stands are specifically designed with ergonomics in mind, raising your screen to eye level to create a more comfortable and healthy angle for your neck, shoulders, and back. In addition, having an adjustable chair can not only increase comfort and reduce the risk of musculoskeletal pain and injuries, but can also increase work engagement and productive time spent at the workstation. Standing desks can also help to prevent sedentary activity, which is known to be associated with a number of health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and heart conditions. Standing while working can increase circulation, burn more calories, and improve posture.
- Communicate with co-workers
Working from home can be mentally draining, especially without that human interaction that you would usually get in the office. Feeling isolated and disconnected from workmates can lead to poor mental health and decreased productivity. Studies found that individuals who worked more days at home experienced greater emotional exhaustion and cognitive stress associated with reduced social support from their colleagues. To feel more engaged with your work, try reaching out to coworkers via chat or e-mail, or schedule informal video calls with teammates every now and then. Engagement with coworkers is a huge factor in maintaining good mental well-being.
By implementing these 5 tips, you can lessen the chance of developing new physical and mental health issues and ultimately improve productivity while working from home.
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- Oakman J, Kinsman N, Stuckey R, Graham M, Weale V. A rapid review of mental and physical health effects of working at home: how do we optimise health? BMC Public Health. 2020;20(1):1825. doi: 1186/s12889-020-09875-z
- Xiao Y, Becerik-Gerber B, Lucas G, Roll S. Impacts of working from home during COVID-19 pandemic on physical and mental well-being of office workstation users. Occup Environ Med. 2021;63(3):181-190. doi: 1097/JOM.0000000000002097