Working from home, from a health perspective, can be the biggest blessing or a total curse. On one hand, it creates tremendous potential for healthier meals, more exercise, and a better work-life balance. On the other hand, many remote workers feel chained to their home offices. Instead of using the time they save from a lack of a commute to get fit, they rarely exercise and eat granola bars all day.
So what's keeping at-home workers from healthy habits, and how do we build them?
I polled my team of 12 about their habits for staying healthy while working from home, and compiled the five critical habits for keeping your mind and body healthy, even if your home is your office.
1. Develop a routine -- and stick to it.
When working from home, it's easy to roll out of bed, fire up the laptop, and get to work. After all, what is more luxurious than working in your pajamas?
Resist the urge! Take the time to dress as if you were going into an office. Keep a routine for your work day, with a start time and an end time, and include breaks during the day. Set a timer -- once every two hours does the trick for me!
The same goes for your evenings and post-work hours. It's tempting to feel like you should always be on, but working at night contributes to burnout. Structure that clearly separates your work time from your home time helps prevent overextension from happening.
2. Schedule time for exercise.
While there are great benefits to not working in cubicle city, one disadvantage is that it's easy to never leave your seat. You don't even have to walk over to talk to your colleagues.
When I asked my team how they get around this, nearly everyone shared the same tip: Schedule exercise in the middle of your workday.
Block out time for a personal trainer (you'll get great mid-day rates), or use an online app to do yoga or Pilates. Just be sure to book it in your calendar, so you actually exercise!
3. Purposefully configure your work environment (no working in bed allowed)!
I always laugh when I see photos of people working "from home" while lying on a beach or in bed. Seriously? That's the fastest way to back and neck issues, not to mention lack of focus.
Having a proper work environment is vital. Dedicate a space in your home (ideally a separate home office) that is just for working, not an area that is repurposed later in the day.
Finally, I believe that outer order creates inner calm. Keep your work environment uncluttered, and your mind will be, too.
4. Eat a healthy lunch.
A huge benefit of working from home is having 100 percent control over the food you're eating. In an office environment, buying lunch can be costly and unhealthy, and packing lunch can be a monotonous chore. Working from home gives you full access to healthy options daily.
Some tips from our team: Use a slow cooker, and make soup that you can eat warm each day. Keep cut-up veggies and fruits on hand for snacks. If you love cooking, taking the time to cook your lunch can be a relaxing mini-reset to your afternoon.
5. Make plans for after work.
There are two key benefits to having plans at the end of your work day: First, you're forced to end your day on time and leave your laptop behind, and second, it guarantees you social time, which is hard to find if you work alone from home.
With the extensive research available about the optimal office environment, it's shocking how little thinking and planning is done to help the millions of people who work remotely (usually from home). The benefits of working from home are significant, but the risks are considerable. So, ensure you take some time to be purposeful with your work setup. Your health will thank you.