Healthy at Home: Prioritizing Health and Wellness While Working Remotely
By Madison Dorman, Verdani Partners / Certifications
Prior to the COVID-19 global pandemic, in the property management industry there was a shift to focus on occupant health and wellness programs. We saw property managers incorporate measures in workspace design to ensure the continued wellbeing of tenants by achieving building certifications such as Fitwel or WELL. Workplace strategies included access to healthy snacks and/or healthy vending, free water, accessible and inviting stairs, active workstations, no-smoking policies, bike parking availability, crop-share deliveries, hand washing signage, etc.
Recently, many companies were asked to transition their employee workspaces from the office to their home. The health and wellness habits that were typically reinforced everyday through cues in Fitwel or WELL workspaces may have diminished with the transition to the home office. Now, more than ever, it is important to refocus on habits that maintain your wellbeing by implementing a Working from Home Wellness Program.
To reinforce health and wellbeing habits while working from home, we have outlined 6 best practices your program can include.
6 Best Practices for Implementing a Work from Home Wellness Program
1. Continue Your Morning Ritual Continue the same routine you would do to leave the house to commute to work, only this time to lead you to your at-home workspace. If your routine was to workout, get dressed and grab coffee all before getting to work, you should still do that. Getting ready as if you are going into the office not only makes you feel better, but also puts you into the work mindset to encourage yourself to start your day. Keeping your routine and habits consistent is important for your wellbeing.
2. Bring the Office Feeling Home Working from home can get lonely, especially if you live alone. As you socially distance yourself, it is important to bring life into your space to feel like you are still surrounded by colleagues (and friends). If you are working from home alone and are used to background noise from co-workers, play a podcast in the background. This will help instill the feeling of having people around you. Avoid turning on the television, as it will only distract you from your work. If your company has other forms of communication aside from email, such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, or Skype, pick up a conversation with a coworker. Alternatively, you can give your co-workers a call to check in on their work progress and remind them you still care.
3. Remember Your “Work-Life Balance” Set clear expectations of your working hours to maximize your efficiency not only for yourself, but also for time spent working with colleagues. Unless you need to take care of family members while working at home, there is no reason to change your regular schedule. Take occasional mental breaks. Staying at your desk all day may create a less focused work structure and can cause burnout. Use your lunch break just as you would in the office, step away from your desk and eat a meal. After work hours, enjoy family time and time for yourself.
4. Access to Healthy Meals and Snacks We now have full access to our kitchen around the clock. To reduce the potential for unhealthy snacking, prep your meals and snacks ahead of time as you would going to the office. Do your best to stock-up on healthy options, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Preparing a lunch prior to working will encourage you to eat healthier lunches. When you are busy during the workday, you are less likely to cook a healthy lunch and more likely to create a quick unhealthy meal or order take-out. Additionally, avoid skipping (healthy) meals, otherwise you are taking away your body’s fuel resulting in decreased energy levels and productivity. Further, place any unhealthy snacks on a higher shelf or put them away from view. You will be less likely to grab them if they are not easily accessible.
5. Create a Productive Working Environment Just as your sofa is for lounging, your dinner table for eating meals, and your bedroom is for sleeping, allow your workspace to be a place to focus on work. Do your best to find a dedicated workspace, no matter how small. If possible, select a space near a window, access to natural daylight, adjustable temperature, and/or is away from noise. Choose a comfortable chair, sit/stand desk to encourage active working, and use multiple monitors, if possible. Keep your workspace organized and free from clutter to reduce distractions and improve efficiency. Create an environment that is comfortable and facilitates wellbeing and productivity by incorporating natural elements such as potted plants, fresh flowers and artwork. These elements help to improve overall mood and nurture our innate human-nature connection.
6. Schedule Time Each Day to Be Active Many office buildings offer access to onsite fitness facilities and/or subsidized rates to offsite gyms. Without access to gyms, it is easy to become physically inactive. Luckily, during this time, when facilities are closed, gyms and fitness instructors are offering free trials of their online programs or are streaming live workouts. Take advantage of free sessions and schedule time to be active. Not only will this help de-clutter your mind, it will keep you moving and healthy. If you are used to having a workout partner to motivate you, continue to challenge each other by sending different workouts or having a virtual workout session together. Alternatively, go for a small walk or run outside. Getting fresh air is important to de-stress and is also an opportunity to get exercise.
What does it all mean? In times of uncertainty, one thing is certain: prioritizing your health and wellness is important no matter where your workspace is located. By incorporating all or some of these best practices into your home wellness program, you can begin to focus on your wellbeing again. You are important so continue to take care of yourself.
Madison Dorman is a member of our Certifications Department. Learn more about Verdani Partners' Green Building Certifications department and services to help properties manage their certifications process for all major certification systems including LEED, Fitwel, WELL, BREEAM, IREM and more.