Some of the biggest perks of working from home are health-related. People who work from home report having lowered stress levels, sleeping more, and generally feeling healthier. And during cold and flu season, being able to avoid the perpetually passed-around office bug by working virtually is a big bonus. But when you work from home, it’s easy to fall into unhealthy traps.
Virtual workers are, by their very nature, an independent bunch, so it’s up to you to keep yourself healthy. Luckily, you also have more control to do so simply because you telecommute. Here are five ways to stay healthy when you work from home.
Get up and move around. Whether it’s because you’re extra cozy or extra focused without all those distractions in the office, people who work from home may actually sit for longer periods of time than their office-bound coworkers. And recent studies show that prolonged sitting is pretty bad for your health. Set a calendar reminder to get up and move around, or take your conference calls for a walk around the block. Try working from a standing position for part of the day, or use an exercise ball as an office chair to promote movement and core strength.
Disinfect your office regularly. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you’re suddenly immune to illness. Your spouse, children, and visitors will find their way to your home office from time to time, and they’re exposed to all sorts of cold and flu germs from their own offices and school classrooms. Unfortunately home offices don’t come with a cleaning crew, so be sure to clean and disinfect your office regularly.
Let the fresh air in. One of the nice things about working from a home office is that you control your environment. Heat, air conditioning, and lighting are all set to your exact specifications. But instead of circulating stale air all day long, open your office windows and let some fresh air in. Not only will you breathe easier, but you may also feel more energized and ready to tackle your to-do list.
Don‘t make the kitchen your office. Sure, there’s the big dining room table and excellent lighting, but the kitchen (or anywhere near it!) can be a horrible place for people to work from home. The reason? Your closest coworkers is a stocked refrigerator and the full pantry. Working from home can quickly turn you into a grazer if you’re not careful, so keep your office away from the kitchen and schedule regular breaks for snacks and meals.
Give your back a break. Without the proper office equipment, your back, wrists, neck, and countless other body parts will soon be aching. Set up your home office with a sturdy office chair, an ergonomic keyboard and mouse, and any other pieces of equipment to help you maintain good posture and reduce strain.
Be a healthy telecommuter by following these tips. Working from home can improve your health in many ways, but it’s up to you to set yourself up for success.
Brie Weiler Reynolds is the Director of Online Content at FlexJobs , the award-winning site for telecommuting and flexible job listings, and the proud co-worker of Dizzle, a boxer-beagle mix. Brie provides career and job search advice through the FlexJobs Blog and social media. Learn more at www.FlexJobs.com.