The future of work and health is at home

Last reviewed:
20 Mar 2024,
Author:

Medically reviewed by:

Home is for Health

In the post-pandemic world, our attitudes toward work and health are changing rapidly. In the space of a few years, our homes have become even more central to how we live, work and care for our health and wellbeing.

First, there’s a significant shift towards remote and hybrid working. A Gallup poll reveals that about half of the US workforce could be working remotely, with most preferring hybrid (roughly 2- or 3-day split at a workplace and at home). In a sense, our professional and personal lives have become blurred. But there’s a silver lining too with many people feeling more positive about their work-life balance. And it’s motivated people to focus on health and wellbeing – with the home now at the heart of this conversation.

Another major trend is digital healthcare. The World Economic Forum (WEF) highlights the home is central to achieving health equity – which is essentially the opportunity to access quality healthcare. The WEF also points to our increasing reliance on telemedicine and remote medical devices to enhance patient care and take pressure off healthcare systems globally. Home healthcare is already delivering these benefits to our doors. In the UK, the latest promotional campaign for the NHS 111 service drums the message home about healthcare from your armchair.

Homeworking and remote healthcare are here to say. So, how can we be at our best at home now we’re spending so much time there? And how can home workspaces, daily exercise and health monitoring help us to maintain our health and wellbeing?

How home working impacts health

The transition to remote and hybrid work has been swift and widespread, significantly impacting our work habits and health. In Italy, for example, the proportion of people working from home surged from 4.6% in 2019 to 19.4% in 2020 to 32% in 2021, reflecting a global trend towards remote work. This shift, enabled by technologies like cloud computing and video conferencing, has transformed the way we work.

However, this change highlights an important concern: the increased potential for burnout. While remote work offers flexibility, it can also result in longer hours. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), long hours bring health risks. Their research correlates a significant number of deaths from heart disease and stroke with people who work more than 55 hours a week.

It’s crucial to understand the link between remote work, longer hours and health. While we enjoy the convenience and flexibility of working from home, without the clear boundary of an office environment, it’s easy for work time to spill over into personal time. And that potentially leads to increased stress and reduced physical activity. All these factors can affect cardiovascular health and raise blood pressure which is a key risk indicator once we become aware of this silent killer. The latest campaign in the UK, fronted by former footballer Graeme Souness, is encouraging people over 40 years old to get their blood pressure checked.

In this new normal, we need to be mindful about work habits. That’s different for everyone – it could mean establishing clear boundaries between work and personal time, taking regular breaks or being active. These steps can mitigate the health risks associated with remote work and help us manage our time and health when we’re at home.

Tips to make homeworking better for you

Getting your workspace right, especially at home, can significantly improve your health and wellbeing. It’s simple ergonomics – designing and arranging workspaces around your needs, so you can be productive, efficient and reduce the risk of strain and injury.

Here are three easy and accessible tips to enhance the ergonomics of your home office:

1. Is your desk setup helping?

Ensure there’s ample space for your legs and feet. Avoid clutter under the desk to maintain a comfortable leg position. Adjusting your desk height is key to healthy posture – for many, standing desks can alleviate or prevent back and neck pain. Position your monitor directly in front of you, about an arm’s length away with the top of the screen at or slightly below eye level. This helps maintain a neutral head position and reduces strain. Then place your keyboard so your wrists can remain straight and your shoulders relaxed.

2. Are you sitting safely?

If your job demands a lot of time at a computer, it’s easy to find yourself sitting for hours every day. Your safest option is a good quality office chair with lumbar support for your spine’s natural curve. Your feet should rest flat on the floor so a footrest (or even a pile of books!) can help to get your thighs to a height that’s near horizontal. If the chair has armrests, they should allow your shoulders to remain relaxed, with your elbows close to your body.

3. Do you move about enough?

Now you’ve fine-tuned your workstation and posture, movement is key. While it’s easy to get absorbed in work when you’re making progress, it’s easy to build exercise into your daily routine. Put simply, our bodies aren’t designed to remain in one position for extended periods. To unglue yourself from the office chair takes a conscious effort to make regular movement a feature of every working hour.

You could set a reminder on your phone to stand, stretch or walk briefly every 30 to 60 minutes. Jobs around the home are an excellent way to keep us moving while getting household chores out of the way. But if housework doesn’t appeal, your routine could be as straightforward as standing during calls, taking short walks on your breaks and creating a 5-minute routine where you stretch and focus on your breathing. Check out this beginner’s guide to 5-minute mindfulness sessions.

Eyes need care too. Many of us spend a large slice of our day on our phones or looking at a monitor – that’s where the 20/20/20 rule can reduce eye strain. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This can help relax your eye muscles and prevent fatigue.

Putting just a few of these workspace tips into practice doesn’t mean a whole new set of office furniture or major modifications. Simple adjustments, mindfulness about posture and regular movement can lead to a healthier, more comfortable work-from-home environment.

Get into a daily routine

Creating the right working space at home is also a strong foundation for a healthier daily routine. As a suggestion, here’s one you can adapt to your needs and circumstances:

  • Morning hydration: Begin your day with a glass of water to hydrate and kickstart your metabolism. Keeping hydrated throughout the day will also help your concentration.
  • Stretching: Incorporate a morning stretch or yoga session to wake up your body. Little and often is a great habit to get into.
  • Mid-morning walk: Taking breaks – outdoors if possible – is a chance to get some fresh air and a boost of vitamin D (when the sun shines).
  • Desk exercises: Set an alert to do simple exercises like seated leg lifts or desk push-ups around midday.
  • Wholesome lunch: Take a full break away from your desk and opt for a balanced meal with fruit and vegetables. Try to avoid UPFs and foods that are high in sugar to maintain an even blood-sugar level – this will help you swerve the post-lunch energy ‘crash’.
  • Afternoon breather: Practise a brief mindfulness or breathing exercise to help you focus on what you need to achieve before the end of the working day.
  • Evening activity: A workout or other physical activity has obvious health benefits, but it can also draw a clear line between your working day and your personal time.
  • Wind-down routine: Setting an alarm for bed will help your body get ready for sleep. Swapping late-night screen time for a relaxing activity like reading a book in the last hour before bed can significantly improve your sleep quality by allowing your mind to unwind and prepare for rest.

Home is for healthcare

Today, there’s a huge variety of digital apps and medical-grade devices available to monitor our health, wellbeing, sleep, fitness and statistics like blood pressure at home. From step counters to smartwatches, these technologies are becoming an integral part of health management at home. These are used in a wide range of ways – from managing chronic and serious health conditions to preventative health monitoring. Here are a few options to consider.

Activity tracking

It’s all about the steps. Most wearable devices come equipped with sensors that track physical activity levels throughout the day. They can remind you to move or stand after periods of inactivity, which is particularly beneficial if you’re stuck in meetings and end up sitting down for many hours. You can set daily or weekly goals to help motivate you to move.

Stress management

Some advanced wearables provide features to monitor stress levels by measuringvariations in heart rate. Smartwatch apps offer a range of guided breathing and physical exercises with alerts and prompts to help you become more mindful of your health and wellbeing throughout your working day.

Sleep tracking

Good sleep is fundamental to overall health, and many wearable devices track sleep patterns and quality. Understanding your sleep habits can help you make necessary adjustments to improve sleep quality. Remember, the key to better sleep isn’t just in the quantity but in the quality, so it’s crucial to create a restful environment and establish a consistent bedtime routine to enhance the restorative power of sleep.

Blood pressure monitoring

Innovative devices like the Aktiia blood pressure system offer a more direct approach to monitoring health metrics. Continuous blood pressure monitoring can help users identify patterns and potential health issues early, enabling proactive health management. Compared to a cuff device, the Aktiia system is just as accurate, more convenient and can motivate you to make changes to your lifestyle – the so-called Aktiia effect.

Incorporating wearable technology into daily routines can empower individuals with data-driven insights to make healthier choices, encouraging an active lifestyle and better stress management. As remote work and health management are here to stay, making these technologies part of your regular routine can significantly contribute to maintaining and improving health and wellbeing.

Discover the latest advances in blood pressure monitoring and learn how to stay in the healthy range. Sign up for our newsletter now!

The future of work, health and home

Our homes are now where we work, live, and look after our health. Luckily, technology makes it easier to adopt healthier routines. The Aktiia effect shows that making smart health devices part of our daily lives can motivate our journey towards better health and wellbeing.

Moving to home-based work is a chance to rethink our health habits. Finding what works for us can help balance work and wellbeing. Using tools like Aktiia’s system can give us real insights and a clear indication into our overall health. As we get used to managing our health from home, it’s clear that healthcare is moving beyond hospitals and clinics. With technologies like Aktiia’s system, you can feel more in control of managing work, health and home life together.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is for educational purposes only and not intended as medical advice. If you have any health concerns, please consult with your physician or qualified healthcare provider. Any changes to your diet or lifestyle should be made under medical supervision. The author and publisher are not responsible for any adverse effects resulting from the use or application of the information presented in this article.


Sources:

The Future of the Office Has Arrived: It’s Hybrid, 9 Oct 2023 – https://www.gallup.com/workplace-future-office-arrived-hybrid

NHS 111 TVC 30s with subs, 2023 – https://youtu.be/FEgNWMLFHiY?si=2IphvtNCw1j1IwVM

Share of people working from home in Italy as of April 2021, 12 Sep 2023 – https://www.statista.com/statistics-share-of-people-working-from-home-in-italy-by-household-size

Long working hours increasing deaths from heart disease and stroke: WHO, ILO, 17 May 2021 – https://www.who.int/news-long-working-hours-increasing-deaths-from-heart-disease-and-stroke-who-ilo

Over-40s urged to get free blood pressure checks, 11 Mar 2024 – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news-health-68510576

5 Minute Beginners Guided Meditation, 25 Mar 2018 – https://youtu.be/8HS5ScepM9g?si=u2m-2BqZEsRo8nk

Telehealth: Technology meets health care, 18 Jun 2022 – https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle-consumer-health-in-depth-telehealth-art-20044878

Medically Reviewed

dr jay shah photo

Renowned cardiologist, physician leader, and angel investor.

Read next

Traditional blood pressure cuff vs. Aktiia

Cuff

Aktiia
Meets ISO81060-2 Standard
Day-Time Blood Pressure
Average 70+
measurements a week
Night-Time Blood Pressure
Automatic Measurements

About the Author

Assad Khan is a dynamic marketing professional specialising in Digital Growth Marketing Strategy He has played a significant role in Aktiia’s success by launching and expanding its market presence and increasing user adoption. His experience provides a strong foundation for his understanding of business dynamics, consumer behaviour, and market trends.

Try Aktiia for yourself

Gain access to these benefits with the Aktiia solution.

Shop Now

Stay updated

Join our mailing list for the latest developments.

Your Basket
Your basket is emptyReturn to Shop
Calculate Shipping