Is working from home good for your health?
Increasing numbers of us work from home some of the time. Some of us work from home all the time. In the past, I have done this, and now it’s an occasional thing. And the extent of the home working might make a big difference. But there are definitely some major advantages to working from home if you can get that balance right.
Things I’ve noticed about working from home:
It improves your diet. Making your own food and drinks and knowing what’s in it. When you’re in the office and you go to grab something quick, the stodgy sandwich is a common thing. When I’m at home, I suddenly find myself heading for the vegetables in the fridge and throwing them in a pan with some mackerel and some couscous. Or making giant healthy meals of an evening, in the knowledge that tomorrow’s lunch will be sorted.
Removal of bad habits. No 9am cake. No slowly munching through more biscuits than you care to admit because they are just there.
No colleagues to make you regularly ill. Yes, depending on who you live with, you are probably far less likely to have somebody spluttering in your face or getting their dirty hands all over your door handles, switches and surfaces. More uptime for you is the result.
Introduction of great habits. Back home from a meeting at 11.23 … perfect – a quick run before lunch! I genuinely do this. Times when I’m in the office 5 days a week, I know it’s possible to go to the gym after, but I probably won’t.
Exercise. In general you can much more easily find time for exercise without it interrupting your day. It might be first thing, in order to replace the morning commute. Or just because you don’t have to be out the door to catch the train or beat the traffic. Similarly I find that an early morning run or high intensity session whilst still being able to start work at 8am is extremely useful. Or it might be any time of the day to clear your head and ease your transition from one project to another.
You get to know your neighbours. I’m regularly taking in parcels for them because I’m often in during the day. Compare this to always being in the office when time to speak to people within your local environment could be very limited.
Work life balance. Nothing wrong with saying a quick hello to baby boy whilst wandering the corridors of power. Being present for key events is priceless.
When it may not be right
- When working from home is an extension of the 9 to 5. Not being able to switch off is unsustainable.
- When it’s isolating. Don’t get left on your own for days on end. Nothing good is likely to come of this. We are all to some extent social animals. Good ways to improve your balance include meeting colleagues periodically, meeting customers and any other business contacts. For me I also get a lot of value out of attending networking events – particularly first thing in the morning. The sense of purpose and the participation in the more standard working hours just occasionally is really helpful.
- When it’s not really your choice. If it’s forced upon you by redundancy or by a perceived lack of other options. If that’s the case then talking through your options with a trusted peer or career advisor could be highly recommended.
For the record, I have never found that working from home resulted in me working fewer hours or choosing when to work. I personally have no problem working from when I am ready through to 6pm or 7pm (with a break for lunch for definite). Distractions? No more so than any office I’ve been in.