Health Benefits (and Dangers) of Working at Home
For many, the idea of working from home is a dream. Sleeping later, not rushing off to work, not dealing with traffic or all of the conditions within the work office are more than welcome. Although this is a dream for many of us and a dream that is becoming more and more viable due to the internet and online commerce, there are things to consider before transitioning to working from home. Here are some health benefits and dangers of working from home.
No Vending Machine…
One common problem with working in an office is that you need to eat during the day and unless you are very prepared everyday for those moments, your choices are usually what’s available in the vending machines. This typically consists of chips and candy. Neither of which is particularly filling or healthy. This often leads to over-snacking while still eating a full lunch.
This is a bad combination and can cause weight gain and can contribute to illnesses like hypertension and diabetes. When you work from home you are not confined to available snack options and can therefore make better choices, including cooking food on a stove, which you prepare from real food with ingredients you can pronounce.
At home you have cupboards, the pantry, and the fridge filled with groceries which you chose and purchased for yourself. You are in control of what is available and therefore you can choose from healthy foods that aren’t expected to survive in a machine for months. This is not only more economical that eating junk food, it is generally healthy and more satisfying.
Psychological Freedom To Leave Your desk (go for a walk)
Even if your office culture is open to the idea that you need to go for a walk periodically, it can feel like you are being judged by your fellow workers or bosses. This might make a worker feel like they must tether themselves to their desks and at least look like they are working. This perpetuates a condition of sedentary behavior. This is unhealthy because your body needs motion for fitness, but also because it is hard on your body to sit too long.
When you work at home, you can liberate yourself from the sense that leaving your desk is a crime. Getting up and walking around the block can be a good way to clear your head as well as stretch your legs and get your blood flowing.
Get to The Gym (because of flexible schedule)
If you have rigged work hours, it can be challenging to get to the gym. Before work is too early and after work you are probably too tired. But if you work from home, leaving your work for an hour and then making up for it later is no problem. Often, a trip to the gym actually helps us restore creativity and productivity as well as improve our health.
If we are expected to be at the office first thing in the morning, this means waking up before work, showering, dressing, making breakfast, commuting and being at work early so you don’t risk being late. If you work at home, you can eliminate all of those time sucks, sleep in, without the stress of an alarm clock and still sit in your work space by the same time in the morning.
Eliminating all of the factors related to going to work saves you time and allows you to sleep longer. Sleep is critical to digestion and the production of hormones and is often the first thing sacrificed when we are overloaded by work.
Traffic, coworkers, office noise, lighting, bad office coffee and snack options, and bosses all contribute to stress. When you work from home you can eliminate many of these stresses as you surround yourself in an atmosphere of your choosing. This can include ambient music, incense, and quiet. It’s your choice and that can be a relief.
Well Stocked Fridge
Even though groceries are typically healthier than snacks from a vending machine, the vending machine asks for money, which can be a deterrent to overuse. At home, you might have a full fridge, cupboards full of groceries and no shame that your coworkers are judging everything you eat. This can be a danger. Eating at home can be comfortable and easily slip into overeating.
Lack of Discipline
Very few offices will allow a worker to open a beer during or even soon after work. However, if you work from home, it could be tempting to crack open some suds at anytime of day. This could be problematic, especially if you are not self-disciplined. This is particularly true if one leads to another. Day drinking can decrease exercise, create hangovers and potentially develop into a real problem.
The Couch Can Be Inviting
The couch or chair at home that is comfortable and helps you immerse yourself into your work can also become the anchor that keeps you sedentary. The discomfort of the office can be an asset if it gets you out of your chair and moving around. However, your comfortable lounge chair might suck you in like a trap.
Stress straddles both sides of this issue. Working from home can create additional stress, because it is less structured and there is a sense that production lulls are worse than if they happened within the context of the office. Therefore, working from home can become stressful and counterproductive.
There are certainly some benefits and dangers from working at home. It is important that you are honest with yourself about your self-discipline and ability to work outside of the stresses of the office. If you are able to work without the pressures and structures of an office, working from home can be a great choice.