Is working from home healthy or unhealthy? Two views are presented here.
Ah, working from home. The aroma of coffee brewing in the morning. The scent of a freshly mown lawn drifting in through the open windows. The smell of BO because I haven't taken a shower yet! There is nothing that could beat rolling out of bed into comfortable sweat pants, rolling up to my computer in my ergonomically supportive desk chair, and rolling into my work day without the hassle of a harried morning routine.
Here's what I lost when I joined a company with a "virtual workforce": waking to the sound of the alarm clock in a panic; showering, fixing hair and makeup, agonizing over which clothes to wear; gulping hot coffee and scalding my tongue as I juggled briefcase and coat and all the other junk I needed for my day; practicing the new urban slang vocabulary I overheard from my frat-boy sons while jockeying for the best position at the traffic lights; and inhaling diesel fumes twice a day, five days a week, fifty or so weeks a year.
Here is how my morning starts now: I stretch. I look out the window to check the weather. Grab those sweatpants and throw my hair into a ponytail. Brew a pot of coffee and walk the dog, smiling at the kiddies on the bus stop, bending to pick up the paper, stretching once again. Turn on the PC and check the weather (officially), snoop on facebook and the Yahoo home page, and decide it's time to get serious about my day.
Sure, stress still happens. I might stub my toe, or find dirty dishes piled up in the kitchen sink. I do actually have to work, which can certainly be stressful depending on the assignment of the day and the team working with me. I have deadlines to meet, challenges to face, meetings to attend, so yes, I do have pressure in my day. But the great thing is, I have means to tackle that tension that I might not have at the office. And, I have started my morning in a calm and controlled manner, so odds are, I can handle the annoyances that come along in a given day.
I find that I exercise more now that I work from home. During the drab winter months, I slip in a yoga DVD or do Pilates when my schedule permits. Sometimes it's an evening run in the spring, or an early morning bike ride in the summer. Fall is the perfect time for a lunch time power walk. For those of you who enjoy machines, a trip to the local YMCA might be in order, or maybe a spin class at the gym or laps in the pool are more your style. Regardless, those of us fortunate enough to work from home can pick the time, the place and the activities that keep our hearts strong and blood pressure low.
And food, glorious food! I have control over everything that goes into my gullet, and while I do admit to the occasional handful of potato chips or brightly colored candies, I more often than not choose fruit, salad, or last night's leftovers for my lunch. I control the portions that I select. I am not subject to the whims of a hair-netted cafeteria worker for the amount of food on my plate, and I don't have to wonder what the ingredients are in "Friday's Casserole" (as if I couldn't reflect on Monday's through Thursday's offerings and come up with a pretty good idea). I don't have to watch in horror as the local sandwich guy slathers gobs of mayo on my turkey sandwich, or watch a pimply teenager wearing plastic gloves stack questionable sandwich meat on a white bread roll. I can choose low-fat salad dressings, filtered water and whole grain crackers if I so desire. The sky - or at least my pantry - is the limit. Best of all, I save boatloads of money on a daily basis. That is great for my stress level as well.
So, while I do have to put up with some seriously bad breath from my constant companion (the dog), I get unconditional love day in and day out, along with company every time I go to the loo or the mailbox. I get to run to the school to drop off the forgotten lunch or gym clothes or the page that got left in the printer. I get to work at 6 a.m. or 11 p.m. as it suits me, which takes great advantage of my cycles of productivity. I can watch my kid play volleyball or take that nap if I really need to. All in all, tremendous stress reducers for me, and what could be better than that?
Bottom line, working from home has had tremendous impact on my health and well-being. I wouldn't trade it for the world, and I send appreciation out to my bosses who support this approach to the modern work day. Ok, the dog is barking, so time for my walk. Then maybe a nap. And THEN I am going to kick butt on that power point presentation.
Let me start my argument by saying I LOVE working from home. And therein lies the problem. I may love it too much.
The freedom of not having a boss lurking over your shoulder or, quite frankly, not a soul in the house means I have autonomous rule to do as I please. And that has lead to some pretty unhealthy habits.
When I worked at an office building, I had to keep my body going - Walking to the train, walking to the office, up and down stairs all day, walking to lunch if I went out. And then of course doing it all in reverse at the end of the day. I kept my body moving. Now I work from home and my commute involves exactly 27 steps from the bedroom to the office, with an extra 9-12 steps to the coffee maker. (I can reach my printer without getttin out of my chair.)
At my former office jobs, I spent a lot of evenings playing for the company softball team, running around expanding my lungs. Working from home, the only expansion going on seems to be around my waist. The only home plate I've seen lately is one I've piled nachos on and shoved in the microwave.
I realize this is all on me. Self-discipline and all. Others who work from home tell me to go hit the gym or go out for a jog. But that's not me. I need a little peer pressure to get myself exercising and my dog, who is lying on the floor right now, isn't the best motivator.
You would think I would at least eat healthier. I used to fix a good, balanced lunch to bring to the office. So now logic should have it that I would have no problem here at my own kitchen. However, take away the peer pressure of eating with others and I suddenly morph into Homer Simpson in front of the boob tube.
Where I used to treat myself to a handful of chips, now I have the entire bag at my disposal. The big bag. With nobody watching. Anytime I want. The dog doesn't really care if I eat BBQ Lay's at 9:15 in the morning. With no one around, I can be worse than a high school teenager living in the basement with a Domino's Pizza coupon and a mini-fridge.
Here's some advice. Before you decide to work from home, ask yourself - Would you really dip ever so daintily into a tub of French Onion Dip if there wasn't another soul in the house?
So let's talk about the stress of my former office jobs on my health. Hey, I was a go-getter. 60 hour weeks were a luxury. My timesheets had more ink than federal budget proposal. I never stopped working. Or so I thought.
When you have your own business, you literally never stop working. Got a thought at dinner? Hop over to the office, it's only 14 steps away. Got a thought in the middle of the night? Go downstairs and work on it from 1:00 am until the crack of dawn. No need to rush into work the next morning, you're already there. You never stop working. And that can't be too healthy.
When you have your own business at home, you are the CEO, CFO, marketing director, team manager (hey the dog needs motivating sometimes), accounting department, receptionist and janitor all in one. Picture a six-wicked candle burning at every end. And each role comes with it's own unique brand of stress.
So do I hate or regret working from home? As I said at the beginning, just the opposite. I love it. The grind out there isn't nearly as fun or rewarding for me as the grind (from my own coffee maker) at home. And with a little more self-control, I know I can conquer my exercise and eating habits as effectively as I conquer any of my Fortune 500 client's challenges and projects.
Just after I have this one... last... chip.
We would love to hear your thoughts and opinions.
IMPORTANT: The information on this page, and throughout the entire site, is not intended to provide advice or treatment for a specific situation. Consult your physician and medical team for information and treatment plans on your specific condition(s). Images are shown for illustrative purposes. Do not attempt to draw conclusions or make diagnoses by comparing these image to other medical images, particularly your own.
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