Can working from home be bad for your physical health? Research says yes.
Though it may feel like you’re well-rested without that frustrating commute, pressured supervision or back-to-back meetings, recent research says that the opposite could actually be true.
The first COVID-19 homeworker wellbeing study, carried out by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES), suggests that working from home can actually have a detrimental impact on your physical and mental health. We’ve previously taken a look at the influence working from home can have on mental health, which you can find in our home-work wellbeing post on our blog, but how exactly can working from home impact your physical health?
The study found that out of the initial 500 respondents, 60% reported that they were exercising less, 33% have a less healthy diet and 20% reported an increase in alcohol intake. Alongside this, 64% reported less sleep due to worry, causing 60% to report an increase in fatigue.
Not only did the IES discover a worrying snapshot of the struggles people face that lead to a decline in health, but also found a number of physical complaints and ailments. More than half of the study reported new aches and pains since working from home, with 58% reporting an increase in neck pain, 56% reporting an increase in shoulder pain and 55% reporting an increase in back pain.
The IES also outlines a couple of essential guidelines for looking after your physical health whilst working from home. We’ve collated them below and provided a little extra info to help you on your way to a healthier home working lifestyle.
Though it can be hard to find the motivation to exercise when working from home, a little does go a long way! Whether you can find time for a few stretches, get out of the house for a short walk (or run) or even just make sure to stand up and leave your workspace a few times during the day to keep your body mobile and active, you’ll feel a difference.
The IES recommends that all workers make every effort to stay as active as possible, and recommends that employers motivate their workers to do so. This could include setting half an hour in the workday for all employees to take a walk around the block, jump on the yoga mat or even have a quick run. Employers implementing this personal activity time could spark the difference between a healthy, happy team and a fatigued, unmotivated one.
When working from home, it can be easy to compromise with your inner couch potato and work from the comforts of your sofa, or even your bed. While this can be tempting, working in one of these much-loved spots for long periods of time over your working day can be a huge cause of bodily aches and pains.
The IES’ number one recommendation for workers at home is that they ensure their home office set up is safe and ergonomic.
First of all, this means an ergonomic office chair. Here at Bluespot, we offer a range of computer chairs specifically designed for all-day comfort, to help keep those aches and pains at bay even when working from home. These specialised chairs come in a variety of designs and colours, meaning you can find your ideal chair whatever your style.
Another thing you will need is a well-placed workspace. Consider the light availability in the room to ensure there is plenty of natural light but also well-placed lamps or fairy lights to help protect your eyes from strain when staring at screens all day.
Finally, our top tip is to invest in an ergonomic desk. With the IES recommending that workers stay active and create an ergonomic workspace while working from home, the sit-stand desk is the perfect solution. With electric, push-button technology, our range of height-adjustable desks can be used as a standard sitting desk, or raised to a standing desk. This means that workers can stand at their desk for periods of time throughout the day, a practice with proven benefits to physical health.
Creating an ergonomic home office
If you are concerned with your home workspace set-up and are looking to create the ideal home office, you can find loads more helpful info on our blog and in our knowledge hub. A great place to start might be with Creating an office in your bedroom or Home office planning: the essential guide. Or for some more GP-approved tips on staying healthy when working from home, give this Bupa article a read, it’s jam-packed full of good advice.
If you find you need any more Bluespot guidance, feel free to head to our contact page and get in touch! We have a friendly and experienced customer service team that are always ready to help.