We are now starting to hear about the potential future of office work. A widely circulated article from Bloomberg references executives at BMO that indicate between 30% and 80% of their employees will continue to work from home at least some of the time, even after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. I think it is important to note that the headline identifies “up to 80%” which is certainly attention-grabbing. However, there may be as little as 30%. With a global workforce of 45,000 that still means 13,500 people may transition to a blended model.
I believe all of us are wondering if this might also be our new normal. There are upsides and downsides to this potential change. Here are my take-aways from the article that relate to our physical wellbeing:
I think most of us can safely say our home workstation does not have the same adjustability and fit as our one at work. There are some basics for setting up an at-home workstation properly that we can learn and apply to every workstation we use. The most important concept to keep in mind is … move more. If you can work at your computer with healthy postures, then your body needs less refresh breaks. If you can’t work with healthy postures, then you owe it to yourself to move more often to refresh your body and keep it feeling good.
Traditional Company Offices
If we are working some time at home and some time at our company office, it is likely that we will not have an assigned desk. We have seen this challenge in workstations for shift workers who share workstations as well as in free address workplaces. It is imperative that the workstations are adjustable to accommodate the greatest range of users. If not, then users will struggle with adjusting the workstation to meet their needs.
Less Commute. For those that spend a significant amount of time sitting in their vehicle or on public transit, working from home could free up more time to be active. For those that commute to work with human power – e.g. walking or cycling – this change might reduce their activity level. If practical, you should consider establishing a new routine like going for a walk before starting work and perform refresh breaks throughout the day. We have a number of suggestions for refresh exercise breaks in our Downloads and Videos section.
Work Hours Flexibility
Working from home may give us more autonomy to organize our day to better fit the other roles in our life – such as being parents (of kids or pets), looking after elders or volunteering. It may also allow us to get in more sustained movement breaks during the day while still accomplishing our work tasks. I often find it valuable to take a longer break (up to 30 minutes) within the traditional workday to give my body much-needed movement. This also has the benefit of allowing my brain to work through a problem that I was struggling to solve.