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How to make working from home work for you

Posted on: 23 Mar

For many within the pharmaceuticals and life sciences industry, the concept of working from home may have felt like a far-off idea, rarely to be exercised. However, the recent developments in public health around the world have led to many professionals shifting their work patterns to be entirely home-based.

If you’re not used to working from home, this can be a difficult transition to make, especially if you’re a medical sales representative who is accustomed to working on the road and interacting with customers daily. So how can you make home working work for you? And more importantly, how can you ensure your mental, physical and emotional health stay intact during this time?

Set up your workstation

Your work environment can have a bigger impact on your health than you might think. For example, did you know that having plants can improve productivity by 15%, as well as boosting satisfaction and purifying the air? It makes sense, then, to ensure that your home work space is designed for both maximum effort and comfort. For many, this means a proper desk and chair – ergonomic if possible – with natural light and few distractions. Try to designate a space as your ‘work zone’ and avoid it outside working hours where possible. Few people are at their healthiest or most productive when working from the bed or sofa for weeks at a time and having a more structured space established will allow you to have a clearer distinction between work and home.

Stay connected

For social salespeople, contact with others is a necessity for almost any business day. Even for more autonomous workers, we know that social interaction is critical for mental and physical health. With that in mind, it’s essential for at-home workers to maintain some contact with the outside world.

Many workplaces will have technology in place to facilitate meetings and peer-to-peer interaction, whether that’s Slack, Teams, Skype or Hangouts. Use these! Suggest calling colleagues to talk through matters rather than emailing, keep up a (non-distracting) chat with work mates throughout the week and use video chats to mimic the physical interaction of human conversation. Similarly, make sure to communicate regularly with people outside your work network – whether that’s your family, friends or people you meet in online interest groups.

Separate work from home

When your home is your work and your work is your home, it can be different to distinguish between the two. But having both a designated workspace and a clear structured routine will help you to clock off at the end of the day and clear space mentally.

Working from home gives you the advantage of setting a new routine that plays to your strengths. For some, this may be starting earlier, taking more frequent breaks and winding down before productivity wanes. Others may appreciate having more time in the morning to ease into the workday before getting stuck into solid uninterrupted blocks of work. Whatever suits you, try to stick to some regularity and routine, such as starting and finishing at the same time every day.

Take breaks

Regular home workers know how easy it is to get completely absorbed in the workday and neglect to take breaks – after all, when you’re working from home, you have everything you could want or need at your fingertips. However, regular breaks are key to protecting both your physical and your mental health during this time. Even tiny breaks can have a significant impact, being proven to improve the ability to concentrate and help to avoid injury and can help you to refresh and refocus in between tasks.

If you can, try to take your breaks outside of the house – a brisk walk around the block can do wonders for your health. If you are confined to your home, simply turning your attention away from technology and onto something different can help. March on the spot, do some gentle stretches, read a chapter of a book or call a friend for a chat.

Stay active and healthy

Being active shouldn’t be limited to just your work breaks – it should be something you build into every day to ensure you stay healthy mentally and physically while you’re working from home. Running, walking and cycling are great if you’re able to be outside, but if not, try the following:

  • A free online exercise class, such as yoga, dancing, HIIT or whatever takes your fancy
  • Stretching morning, noon and evening to relieve pressure and tension from the workday

If you can’t be outside, simply sitting near an open window can help to get fresh air and connect with the outside world.

Finally, consider the food you’re eating during this time. It can be easy to turn to highly processed snacks and graze the day away, but it’s important to choose nutrient dense foods as well as those that feel like treats. Foods such as nuts, eggs, fruits and vegetables, hummus, porridge, lentils and beans can make up a healthy, balanced diet that will feed your mind as well and your body.

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