Tips from the freelance world on working from home

The negative impact that working from home is having on British office workers’ wellbeing is looking likely to be a key narrative of 2021, as we launch into the new year with yet another lockdown.

There’s been lots of discussion on the mental implications of remote work, but far fewer are commenting on the severe physical repercussions of working from home. In recent research conducted by Fiverr, statistics show that 2 in 5 (37%) workers have become more sedentary with the change to remote work.

In addition to this, it has been reported that a third (33%) have experienced unwanted weight gain as a consequence of working from home.

Freelancers, however, appear to be less affected by this shift away from office life. The data shows that 4 in 5 (80%) freelancers perceive their physical health to be ‘very good’ or ‘good’ from October to now, whereas only 44% of non-freelancers share this feeling; a stark contrast.

So how can we take the lessons of freelancers and translate them to permanent staff? How can businesses ensure that they are supporting their employees in the struggle of maintaining good physical health whilst working from home?

Here, we run down some of the things we've learned:

Be flexible with your employees

Working 9 to 5 no longer needs to be a hard and fast rule. Remote working facilitates a flexibility that the office doesn’t.

It’s likely that employees’ productivity windows fluctuate, so it’s up to employers to make the most of this.

Allowing staff to manage their own schedule not only gives employees a sense of ownership, but also tends to go hand in hand with a happier and more productive work-force. You’ll also be giving everyone a chance to get outside during the few daylight hours available at this time of year. They’ll be able to exercise at a time that is convenient for them. And keeping fit and healthy is the best and easiest way to maintain good physical health during the lockdown.

Happy and healthy

With many falling ill with the virus, among other nasty bugs, many businesses are showing their employees they care about them by sending care packages of sweet treats.

But these don’t always have to be gluttonous gifts.

Today, there is a wide range of companies that produce healthy, mouth-watering gifts that can be just as easily sent by post. They may not curb those sugar cravings, but they can often be just as delicious and can help boost your immune system rather than giving you that sluggish post-gorge feeling.

Encourage group fitness sessions

For many, the closing of gyms has made it especially difficult to exercise, particularly during these cold winter months.

But there are definitely ways around this.

Zoom fitness classes are rapidly becoming the new way to keep fit. With thousands of fitness trainers moving their services online, why not put your staff through their paces? A group online fitness class can build teamwork, boost morale, and get that serotonin soaring!

Provide your employees with the correct equipment

Remote work is ruining our posture. For many, the ‘working at home day’ is spent sitting on the sofa or on a rigid dining table chair that has not been designed to support us through our working day.

It is essential that employees recognise that new equipment which has been designed to enable a comfortable working experience may help improve their physical health.

Improving your posture is a simple but effective way to make remote work easier. 

Promote ‘walk and talk’ meetings

Walking whilst talking not only promotes physical activity but also tends to shorten meeting times. A meeting on the move will often correlate with short and snappy meetings, giving your employees more time to focus on pressing work.

Remote work means that meetings no longer require a group of people to sit in a room - so why sit at all? Encourage your employees to head out for a stroll with the Zoom app and a trusty pair of headphones. An easy way to build up those steps whilst still being at work.

Ensure employees take a lunch break

Whilst in the office, a lunch break is a great opportunity for a change of scenery. However,  many are no longer taking advantage of this downtime. Fiverr’s data suggest that nearly 30% of respondents admit to skipping lunch more often than they did when they were in the office.

Whilst it can be difficult to force employees to take a lunch break, it should definitely be strongly encouraged. Statistically, a better diet is proven to increase morale and productivity in the workplace.

Remember, we’re all battling through the pandemic

Covid is an obvious obstacle to our normal working practices. But it can also directly affect your employees’ health.

With the number of daily infection rates on the rise and new variants popping up, it is more than likely that a number of your employees will fall ill with the virus.

Give those that have been infected time to recover. And always remember to encourage best practice in terms of handwashing and social distancing.