The coronavirus pandemic has brought about changes to our working lives that we could never previously imagine, and many of us will stay 'working from home' for the forseeable future.
For some, the change has been positive, and shown areas of flexibility within their workforce that were not previously explored. New ways of working can prompt innovation, and lead to greater efficiencies within a business.
However, the benefits that having a workplace brings have now been lost, or replaced by some measures that are less than ideal. The benefits I refer to are face to face interaction, a sense of community amongst colleagues, the movement and activity of the work commute, and the brain stimulation that changing our surroundings brings. These are things that can't quite be replicated by a online video call.
So what can we do to give ourselves that extra physical and mental boost, that will keep us feeling fullfilled, effective and productive in our working day?
Humans are social beings. Not seeing or speaking to people regularly can lead to isolation, and a reduction in our mental health. Going from a bustling working environment to being at home is a huge change. It is important for us to have time to engage with others outside of our immediate famiy. Talk to your friends and colleagues. Technology has proven a wonderful asset over the past few months, and allowed us to continue in elements of our work and social lives. However, we must not underestimate the importance of reintegrating safely with our support networks in person when safe to do so.
During lockdown one of the only permitted activities was daily exercise, highlighting the importance of getting out of the house and doing something active. It is important for our physical health, but also for our mental wellbeing. For many people, the past few months have brought about the start of a new active hobby, which is amazing! But now, 7 months in, are these new active routines continuing?
For those still working at home, it is important to ensure you have time for something active within your day. Your dialy commute is now walking down the stairs, which is no replacement for leaving the house and doing a bit of walking, however short that was previously.
Working from home has also caused people to be working for long hours in poor postures. Those who havent had room for a designated working space have had to adapt corners of their home, or have been working sat on sofa's and beds. This is not great ergonomically, and can lead to musculoskeletal pain and tension setting in. If your working position is not ideal, it is even more important to take regular breaks to change your posture and get the blood flowing to those areas of tension. Simple stretches that you can do at a table, desk or on a chair can be quick ways of relieving tension. But giving yourself a lunch break to go for a walk or do a a quick workout are also great ways to keep your joints and muscles happy.
It is surprising how much stimulus we get from just going to a place of work. We may do the same commute, to sit in the same building, with the same people, but there will be subtle differences in each day which give us variable experiences. Different conversations between collegues, a new coffee shop opening on route to work, meeting clients, or passing through environments which are changing with the seasons. This has all been lost when working at home. So try to replace some of these things when you can. Can you have a socially distanced meeting somewhere with a colleague? Can you plan your free time so you are going somewhere new rather than sitting in front of the tv. Our wellbeing does not thrive in isolation. We need new experiences to aid motivation, productivity and happiness in both our work and social lives.
Below are some quick and simple stretches that you may find helpful to try at home, or in the office, between tasks.
If any exercise casuses pain please stop the exercise and consult a physiotherapist for more guidance.
Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical assessment and advice. If you have concerns regarding your health please consult with a medical professional.