6 Health Perks & Quirks of Working From Home
The idea of working from home is growing more and more popular, but is it as great for your health as it is for your convenience?
Illustrations by Edgar Vega
Commuting is rough, the job market is booming, and accelerated career advancement is expected in the great city of Austin. In fact, according to the Austin-American Statesman, Austin is ranked in the top 10 cities in the U.S. for young entrepreneurs. All of these things shape the ideal environment to take the leap, put on the PJs (or so you think) and work from home. But that decision comes with three perks and quirks when it comes to your health.
Picture this: A cup of french-pressed coffee, an egg white omelet with veggies, and fresh berries with yogurt all at your breakfast table with no hurry to get to the office. When you work from home, you can control everything you eat, prepare it right, and never use a microwave to heat up a frozen meal. You avoid the daily abandoned donuts left on the break room counter, the sugary cereal, and the neverending bowl of M&Ms.
Take Advantage: Stock up on fresh foods and experiment with new recipes without missing a beat at work. (Might I suggest starting with the blackened catfish featured in this issue?)
Workout Anytime, Anywhere
With back-to-back meetings, I would have one hour to work out and appear presentable to my coworkers. Working remotely means you can go for an afternoon jog and not worry about showering immediately. It also means you can wear the ankle weights, get the stand up desk, or knock out a few push-ups without getting eyeballs from your deskmates.
Take Advantage: Work always comes before your workout, but explore different types of exercises in different places. Do walking lunges in your hallways or pull ups in a doorway.
Avoid the Commute
Imagine the most perfect world, filled with free ice cream, unlimited fast Wi-Fi and no traffic. The last one can be yours! In 2014, Time stated the average American spends 204 hours a year commuting. Driving more than 10 miles each way is associated with high blood sugar and increased anxiety.
Take Advantage: To be clear, you must leave your home eventually. Drive during times with low traffic and avoid congested areas. If you do have to be somewhere when commuting is rough, consider leaving early or later; or, set up shop at a diner, gym, or coffee shop and bring your work with you.
Living Lazy Clothes
If you could stay in your PJs all day, everyday, you would. When you work from home, it is possible, just not practical. You have to take the time to put on real clothes, brush your teeth, and consider deodorant. Clothes have symbolic meanings and the wearer often adopts the characteristics of the clothes they are wearing—“world conquerer” in a business suit and “lazy daisy” in pajamas.
The Fix: Enjoy the fact that you work from home but don't abuse it. Get dressed four out of five days and relax on something you found time consuming, like blow drying your hair or shaving.
While I have not painted a face on a volleyball yet, my roomba, Jarvis, and I are pretty close (#relationshipgoals!). Working from home means you constantly have to focus on something that is a given for office life—forming and maintaining relationships. Study after study show strong, healthy relationships boost happiness, decrease health risks, and improve self-confidence.
The Fix: Ultimately the onus is on you to be proactive about your relationships. Keep close ties with former coworkers, mentor young minds, and find new groups to continue interests—or form new ones.
Leaving the House
My gym was on my way to and from work—making it an easy routine to go before, during, or after work. Now, I can spend the entire day in the same place without ever getting in my car. It also means that the gym is “out of the way” and requires more motivation than packing a bag.
The Fix: This quirk is perfectly complemented by the perk of avoiding traffic. Go to the gym between 9–11 or 1–4 and you will never wait in line for a machine again. Pick 2–3 classes you want to go to a week, and prepare like you would normally by packing your bag and workout clothes the day before.