Updated: Nov 17, 2021
Co-workers meeting for coffee.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, many businesses have been forced to embrace remote working, not only to protect staff and customers, but also to maintain productivity. However, as businesses gradually return to normal operations, some employees are understandably reluctant to return to the office.
While many employees have a genuine need to work from home, there are some who are missing out on the various benefits of the office environment. If you’re working remotely - either on a full or part-time basis - and you’re unsure about returning to the office, here are six reasons why spending more time at the office could benefit your health.
Reduce Stress By Effectively Separating Work and Home Life
When you set clear boundaries between your work life and home life, you’re less likely to experience conflicts between the two, which can significantly reduce your overall stress levels. In a recent Chubb survey of Americans working from home, around 60 percent of remote workers said that distractions from family, housemates, or pets sometimes made it difficult to work from home.
When you commute to an office, it’s easier to leave your personal issues at home. At the same time, when you travel back home from the office, it’s easier to switch off from the pressures at work. Ultimately, this healthy routine can help you reduce the symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression. What’s more, the ritual of preparing to leave the house and commuting adds structure to each day and provides valuable thinking time to prepare for the day ahead.
Improve Your Cardiovascular and Muscular Health
Frequently commuting also contributes to a less sedentary lifestyle, even if you’re driving or using public transport. When you’re at the office, you also tend to move around more than you would at home, even if it’s walking to a colleague’s desk or moving between rooms.
Various studies have linked sitting for long periods of time with increased blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, and an increased risk of chronic illnesses. Getting outside also helps you get more vitamin D from the sun, which supports bone and muscle health, and boosts your immune system.
Strengthen Your Social Connections
Working remotely cannot replace the psychological benefit of working in close contact with other people. Put simply, working with others gives you a sense of belonging, self-worth, and security. When you’re at home, you lose the ability to chat spontaneously and share your personal or work-related thoughts with others.
Humans have a basic need for friendship, and being in an office environment gives you the opportunity to cooperate with others and receive their support. In a study by Officevibe, 70 percent of employees considered work friends to be the most crucial element to a happy working life. Workplace social interactions have also been found to increase positive feelings at the end of the day.
Remote workers are also more vulnerable to loneliness. In a survey by Buffer, 17 percent of remote workers reported struggling with feelings of loneliness. Various studies have linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risks of a variety of physical and mental conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, weaker immunity, and depression.
Improve Your Posture
In the Chubb survey, more than two in five workers reported new or increased pain in their shoulders, back, or wrists since they started working remotely (1). This is due to the fact that a lot of equipment and furniture in the home is not ergonomically designed.
In the office, you’re guaranteed certain standards by law. For example, most offices today are equipped with ergonomic chairs that support your lower back and screens that don’t strain your eyes.
Achieve a Healthier Diet
The Chubb survey also found that only five percent of workers were eating less while working remotely. When you’re working next to your kitchen at home, it’s easy to go and grab something to eat whenever you feel like it.
Working at the office is different; with other people around, you’ll generally have less opportunities - and be less tempted - to snack. This won’t be the case for everybody, but it’s easy to see how working from home can lead to a less healthy diet, weight gain, and other health problems.
Returning to the Office: Finding a Healthy Balance
It’s totally natural to feel anxious about returning to the office; many employees who have been working remotely feel the same way. However, it’s also important to recognize the many benefits of working in an office environment.
Apart from helping you achieve a better work-life balance, returning to the office can help you feel less socially isolated, boost your mood, and improve your physical health. It can also boost your productivity, which is good for your career.
If you have concerns about returning to the workplace, talk it through with your boss. You might be able to return to the office for one or two days a week for the first few weeks to maintain some flexibility. This way, you can help your mind and body steadily adjust to a new routine.