According to a recent study by HP, Inc., roughly 60 percent of employees now work from home or an off-site location. Experts agree that the number will continue to rise as both employers and their employees see the benefits of working remotely.
Employees who work remotely have been found to be more productive and efficient, and experience less work-related stress. Employers value the associated reduced worker turnover, overhead and carbon footprint.
While the benefits are clear, working from home can also have some challenges. Facing the colleague-free hours, lack of watercooler conversation and small space a home office might provide each workday requires a little extra effort.
Here are the top five ways to stay healthy and happy when working from home:
- Set up safely
Make sure you have a designated workspace that is separate from your family life and away from wayward splashes of water from the kitchen sink or a toddler eager to help you with a report — in crayon. Office ergonomics are important, too. Choose a chair that supports your back, keep work tools within easy access, give your hands and eyes breaks from the computer, and make sure your body, chair and desk are properly positioned to avoid aches and strains.
- Stay connected
Technical tools and face-to-face get-togethers can keep you connected to your colleagues and reduce isolation and loneliness. From video chat and conference calls to weekly in-person meetings and birthday lunches, you can see and spend time with your teammates and make sure you’re seen and not forgotten by them.
- Keep moving
Just because you don’t have co-workers to meet over the watercooler, don’t let yourself be glued to your desk chair. Set an alarm to go off every hour to remind you to move a bit. Stroll to the mailbox, do some “deskercises” and stretches, or even take a lap around the block — bring your furry officemates if you have them — to keep the blood pumping and creative work ideas flowing.
- Change the scenery
Sure, you “work from home,” but that doesn’t mean you literally have to be in your home to work. As long as you have a laptop, cellphone and the other mobile tools you need to complete the job, you can switch things up a bit. Find a local coffeehouse or library that is quiet and has a good Wi-Fi connection or sit in your backyard or local park and catch some rays while you work (don’t forget the sunscreen).
- Stock the fridge smartly
Even though no one is there to see whether you eat sugary cereal or a salad for lunch, you will certainly feel the effects of what you eat. Make sure you plan ahead for the week and fill the refrigerator with foods that will help both body and mind work well. Salad and sandwich makings, fruits and vegetables, nuts, snack-size cheese and yogurt are all good choices to keep you going throughout the day.
Most importantly, enjoy it. Working remotely is a perk not all employees receive. Allow yourself to relish the flexibility that it comes with. If you do it right, the work-from-home benefit truly can benefit both you and your boss.