Lauren Crystal, co-founder of project management platform Hassl, shares five tips on establishing a good work-life balance whilst working from home. This article originally appeared on Women’s Agenda.
Whether you have been based in your home office long before COVID-19 restrictions, or you have only been working remotely as a result of it, it’s no secret that there are particular challenges that come with it, especially when it comes to your health.
The excessive number of enticing snacks in the kitchen, the lack of social stimulation and the temptation to work in an ergonomically unsound position can all sabotage an otherwise upstanding worker’s best wellness intentions.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, almost half of the Australian population has spent time working from home since the COVID-19 shutdowns, and experts believe a significant percentage of these workers will stay there for the longer term. However, a report from The Centre for Future Work has found that many of these Australians working remotely have been on average, completing an extra four to five hours of work for free every week.
Not only is working extra hours damaging to mental health, but it’s also a nasty habit that affects workers overall wellbeing.
In order to combat workplace burnout, here are five ways to incorporate wellness into your work-from-home routine.
1) Take wellness breaks
Studies have shown that workers who take regular breaks are more satisfied with their jobs and less likely to seek employment elsewhere.
Taking regular breaks should always be part of your work schedule, both while you are at the office, and working from home.
Whether you complete a quick pilates session, or simply read a chapter of that book you haven’t finished – wellness breaks allow your brain to take a well-needed break and promote productivity.
Here at Hassl, we recently collaborated with mindfulness expert Dr Stephen McKenzie to develop our latest wellness feature, which encourages workers to take a series of micro-breaks throughout their day.
The wellness feature locks users out of their dashboards for 20-90-seconds and suggests they complete one of a series of different tasks that promote either physical or mental wellness. Some examples include shrugging your shoulders slowly 15 times or practising 90-seconds of mindful breathing.
2) Clean up your workspace
Did you know that a clean work environment improves an employee’s sense of wellbeing and health?
According to research, 90 per cent of employees reported being more productive and motivated in a clean workplace. The same study found that 74 per cent of office workers said they produced a higher quality of work in a clear work environment.
While working from home, a worker’s space can fluctuate depending on the environment they are in. Some workers are lucky enough to have a dedicated desk, while others work from their kitchen bench or couch.
No matter where you work, it’s important to make sure it’s clear of clutter and mess in order to complete your tasks to the best of your ability.
3) Drink more water
Drinking a sufficient amount of water during your workday is just as important as getting an optimal amount of sleep before your day starts.
The symptoms of dehydration can make it more challenging to focus, which can make any work tasks more difficult to complete successfully. Additionally, your level of alertness will falter, and your reaction times will slow down.
In fact, if your level of dehydration reaches three per cent or more, you may be impaired to the same level of someone who has a blood alcohol level above the legal driving limit.
Drinking water can seem like a relatively simple task, yet many Australians still struggle with it. In fact, in Australia over 80 per cent of adults suffer chronic dehydration, drinking only 1.29 millilitres per day on average.
In order to help increase your water consumption, consider setting yourself goals throughout your day. Determine how much water is suitable based on your weight and reward yourself once you hit those targets.
4) Eat well and stay active
When you spend several hours a day at home working, it pays to make those hours healthy ones for both body and mind. Making some simple, smart choices throughout your workday can help boost your creativity and productivity, while reducing fatigue and minimising stress.
Vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats will provide you with a steady source of energy throughout the workday, while offering the nutrition you need for long-term health.
Eat your lunch outside, or away from your ‘desk’ and try to refrain from checking your emails or doing work while doing so.
Our bodies are meant to move frequently, and that includes more than just planned exercise. If you sit at your laptop all day, make a point to move at least every hour.
Get up to fill your water glass, go and talk to your roommates, partner or family members, do a few stretches, or step outside to take a short walk.
5) Check-in with your colleagues
Finally, while working from home it can often be difficult to stay connected with your colleagues, apart from the occasional Zoom meeting.
Make a conscious effort to check in with your colleagues and discuss things outside of the work realm, just like you would at the water cooler.
With the state now announcing venues reopening and restrictions easing, organise a date to reconnect with your colleagues over a friendly wine or meal.