Homeworkers need to watch how they work, perhaps even more so than office-based colleagues. Here, Betsey Banker suggests a number of ways in which homeworkers can boost their productivity and wellbeing.
The benefits of home-working are well known, but what about its risks? One area that doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves is ergonomics, specifically the dangers of spending too long sitting down.
Without the meetings, interruptions and distractions of office life, not to mention the daily commute, homeworkers arguably have less motivation to get up and move around than office-based colleagues. To avoid too sedentary a lifestyle – and the attendant health risks – it is important for homeworkers to change posture as much as possible and that includes standing up and moving around. Breaking up sitting time speeds up your metabolism, tones muscles and improves blood flow.
Converting a fixed desk to sit-stand is one way to keep active. Here are five more suggestions on how to improve productivity and wellbeing when working at home:
1 Analyse your workspace
A good starting point is to analyse your workspace and devise ways to optimise your sit-stand time. In the short-term, you could create a makeshift standing station by placing your laptop on the kitchen counter or the ironing board. For longer term use, a purpose-built sit-stand workstation is recommended. When you do sit down, make sure you have a comfortable chair with proper support for your back.
2 Have a routine
Create a schedule, setting fixed times to stand up or move away from your desk. You could set a timer at 10am, stand for 15-20 minutes, then sit down again and repeat this at regular intervals throughout the day; or you could break up work tasks into 30-minute chunks with a break between each one. Getting up, perhaps to get a drink, increases stand time and gives you time away from your screen.
3 Standing is good
Look at your workload and make a list of tasks that can be done standing up. If very few can be, consider other ways to break up your day, such as standing to make lunch, running an errand, stretching or going for a quick jog or brisk walk. We can all benefit from a bit of fresh air and vitamin D on sunny days!
4 Keep work and leisure separate
Working from home, there is always the risk that work will take over your leisure time (and space). Try to keep them separate. Stick to a set a timetable, as if you were working in an office. Logging off at a set time and putting work away will help you to switch off from work and maintain a good work-life balance.
5 Keep track of sedentary time
Assess exactly how much time you spend sitting down. Online calculators(1), wearable fitness trackers and apps are all good for this and will provide you with an accurate reading – you might be shocked at how little time you spend moving about. These tools can also be used to create measurable goals to work towards, like calories burned or reductions in sitting time.
Start by making small changes to your schedule and working habits. Studies(2) show that standing up for an extra hour each day produces significant results: 66% felt more productive, 87% felt more energised, 71% felt more focused and 50% experienced less pain in their upper back, neck and shoulders. All good reasons to make a change.
Betsey Banker is Vertical Manager, Wellness at Ergotron, a provider of ergonomic work and lifestyle products, including sit-stand workstations.
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2. http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2012/11_0323. htm?s_cid=pcd9e154_x