The coronavirus has paralyzed public life to a large extent for more than one year now. Wherever possible, many employers have sent their employees to the home office. What at first glance seemed like relief for employees can actually become unhealthy - if they behave incorrectly.
In 2019, the German health insurance company, AOK, published a study in which 73.4 percent of those frequently working in the home office described themselves as exhausted. Among those working only in the office, 66 percent said so.
The proportion of employees who complained of anger and discontent or nervousness and irritability was also higher in the home office than among office workers.
Home office for weeks also often means a lack of physical activity: The way to work ceases to exist, fitness studios are closed in times of the coronavirus, as are swimming pools, sports clubs or sports fields.
It is all the more important to make working hours in the home office as healthily as possible. ISPO.com gives several tips for healthy and efficient work at home.
Working from the couch or even in bed? This may be a cliché among home office skeptics, but it is the most unhealthy solution imaginable. Instead of the lap or the far too low coffee table, the workstation should ideally be set up in a study or at least in a work area with its own desk.
The physical separation of work and private space helps to focus during working hours and to let go after work. The latter is a common problem in the home office. The AOK study 2019 came to the conclusion that 38.3 percent of all those working in the home office found it difficult to really switch off after work. Among office workers, 24.9 percent had this problem.
"In the home office, the line between job and private life becomes more blurred," said Helmut Schröder from the AOK Scientific Institute (WidO). "This increases the risk that recovery periods will shrink."
The optimal sitting position allows a relaxed view of the screen from above at a distance of 50 to 70 cm. The head should be slightly lowered when looking at the monitor to prevent tension in the neck area.
An office chair with adjustable backrest and armrests best ensures an ergonomic sitting position. Changing the position regularly relieves and prevents tensions in the back. There is an easy rule: The next sitting position is always the best.
Convertibles and laptops are very useful - but by no means optimal for permanent work. The constant viewing of these often too small and low-contrast screens results in dry eyes that are more susceptible to infection as well as headaches and discomfort.
Instead, it's worth investing in a screen with a diagonal of at least 22 inches. This is not only more comfortable for the sitting position because of its height, but also spares the eyes with generally higher contrast and less blue light. The website Digital Trends offers an overview of the best work from home tech.
When positioning the screen, it is recommended to set it up beside a window. A frontal view into the sunlight or reflecting daylight from the screen should be avoided, as both put more strain on the eyes.
Also recommended for dry eyes:
- Humidity in the room should be about 50 percent, for example by placing water bowls
- Avoid direct airflow, such as fans and air conditioning near the eyes
- Do not smoke in the work area
- Regular dusting
In the office, getting coffee, talking to colleagues or heading to the canteen provide short breaks and therefore some relief for eyes and head. In the home office, on the other hand, many people spend their lunch break in front of the computer - or do not take any break at all. Efficient work, however, includes efficient regeneration.
Tips for breaks and relaxation in the home office:
- Always drink enough water, at least two litres a day
- Take time for breaks and, if possible, dont't spend them in front of the computer
- Allow your eyes to take a break: Look out of the window briefly every ten minutes, consciously focus on objects at the edge of your vision, do visual exercises and let the pupils wander to the left and right and up and down
- Darkness and warmth are easy on the eyes, put your hands briefly (without pressure) on your eyes several times a day and think of beautiful things like a holiday panorama, colourful flowers or your last outdoor adventure
Too little physical activity in combination with sitting for too long damages the blood circulation and the oxygen supply of the body. The intervertebral discs are put under above-average strain and muscles recede if not used.
All the more important is sufficient movement to balance. In rural areas a daily run or even a walk in the fresh air helps. In regions with that are completely shut down, your own home or garden turn into your gym for exercises.
During working hours, even small exercises at the desk can help, from stretching to circles of the head, hand, arm and shoulder and to relaxing back rotations.
The time you spare due to the non-existent way to work is a perfect occasion for your fitness routines. Thus, a yoga session ensures a healthy start to the day. Classic deadweight exercises, such as push-ups or knee bends but also sit-ups, planking or jumping jacks are perfect for taking a break. After work they are the perfect counterbalance to constant sitting.