Physical Health

4 minutes, 14 links


Updated March 23, 2023

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Remote workers have more freedom to take care of physical health than traditional, office-based roles. Much of the advice below applies to anyone really, but people with more flexible remote schedules hopefully are able to take better advantage of these opportunities.

Getting Enough Sleep

Insomnia and not getting enough sleep is a major issue for many people, with 35% of Americans sleeping less than they should.* Remote workers are no exception, and a lack of clear boundaries, anxiety about your work, or feelings of loneliness can all contribute. There’s lots of advice out there on dealing with insomnia. Here is our best take on how remote workers can get enough sleep:

  • Set a clear schedule. This includes allowing for when you will and won’t be available to work, and ensuring you have enough time to wind down each night.

  • Turn off work notifications. Silence these when you finish for the day, so you’re not tempted to look at work-related interruptions when you should be relaxing.

  • Create evening and morning routines. Routines help set boundaries between your work and personal life that let you prepare to unplug from work properly.*

  • Minimize screen time. Putting devices down an hour or two before bed is good advice for anyone, not just remote workers.*

  • Clear your brain. A good method is to write down what you need to do the day before you need to do it, so you’re not kept awake thinking about it.

Getting Regular Exercise

It’s easy to be sedentary as a knowledge worker, and you may be less inclined to “get out of the office” if you’re working from home. Exercise is one of the very best things you can do for your overall health, and here’s some advice for remote workers who want to get moving:

  • Get up and move. It helps to get away from your desk for five to ten minutes each hour and take a walk around your home or otherwise separate yourself from work. This can include taking some time to stretch and do strength exercises, especially if you’re sitting for long periods of time.

  • Go for a walk. We recommend leaving your house for at least 30 minutes a day to go for a walk—not only is this good exercise, but it also helps you feel more connected to the world around you, which can boost your mental health.

  • Take a class. You may find it beneficial to try out an exercise class, running club, or sports team to connect with others while getting fit.

Taking Time Off If You’re Sick

Remote workers don’t run the risk of infecting coworkers if they get ill, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take time off. If you’re sick, it’s best to let your colleagues and supervisor know, and take some time to get better.

Eating Healthy Meals and Snacks

It seems obvious that we all should be eating healthily, but it’s harder than you think as a remote worker. Here are recommendations based on our conversations with a host of people working remotely:

  • Making a conscious effort helps you avoid highly processed foods like chips and cookies.

  • It’s good to have fresh fruit and veggies on hand for a quick snack when you get away from your desk for a break.

  • Staying healthy includes keeping an eye on your energy levels, and having a bite to eat if you feel yourself flagging.

  • Batch cooking food for lunches and dinners at the weekend lets you save time and always have something delicious on hand so you can spend time actually enjoying it.

  • A meal planning app is a good investment for easier grocery shopping and preparation.

  • It’s best not to eat at your desk!

  • Pre-preparing your lunches helps you expend minimal effort to make sure you eat—and that way you can also spend some quality time away from your desk.

Mental Health

Finding work-life balance isn’t about prioritizing your mental wellbeing at the expense of your work. It’s acknowledging that, in the long-term, all areas of your life are better off when you put your mental health first.Amir Salihefendic, founder and CEO, Doist*

Burnout in Remote Workers

importantThis section contains information for remote workers to help them focus on their mental health. But it’s important to note that mental health is not solely the responsibility of individual employees. Burnout in particular is a systemic problem that more often stems from organizational priorities and dynamics, and only somewhat relates to individual overwork. We cover this in depth in Morale, Mental Health, and Burnout in Remote Teams, notably in regard to what managers and leadership can do to ensure the mental health of their remote teams. It’s critical that remote employees are not left isolated and expected to monitor and manage their mental health on their own.

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