Read our guide to developing good remote-working habits, including exercise tips, nutritious lunch ideas and advice for staying active and alert.
Working remotely requires serious discipline. Without the structures and routines of a shared workplace, you're left to your own devices. This affects not only your work output, but also the choices you make around your diet and activity.
On a good day, working from home can mean a productive eight hours at your desk, exercise at lunch and nutritionally-balanced meals matched to your activity level. A bad day? Raiding the fridge, not leaving the house, staying in pyjamas, struggling to get started – the list continues.
If you're new to working from home or need some advice for improving your output, read our top tips. Once you get into the flow, working from home can be very fulfilling and productive.
Start the day right
The temptation to snack is the nemesis of many a home worker. Filling up on a nutritious breakfast will help combat mid-morning urges to hit the fridge. Less rushed mornings allow for taking time over healthy, cooked breakfast dishes like baked eggs and frittata. Smoothies, porridge bowls loaded with seeds and fruit or protein-rich eggs are all great options, plus our high-protein breakfast recipe collection includes spinach pancakes and quick oats. See all our healthy breakfast ideas.
Be active from the off
Avoiding your commute is one major bonus of working from home. However, slinking straight from bed to desk (or, for some, pulling your laptop into bed and working directly from there) means your early-morning step count is dramatically reduced. If your household routine allows for it, try taking a walk, cycle or run on a morning before you start work. The burst of fresh air, cardio activity and change of scene is conducive to starting the working day with a clear head. For more on fitness, read our guides on how to work out at home and exercise for free.
Eating a balanced lunch is essential for maintaining concentration and energy levels in the afternoon. Our top 10 working from home lunches include baked sweet potatoes with vegan chickpea curry and quick chicken hummus bowls. Find more midday inspiration in our healthy lunch, healthy veggie lunch and healthy vegan lunch recipe collections.
Stock your freezer
If you’ve not got many ingredients in the house, it’s tempting to eat snacks or an arbitrary combination of foraged fridge ingredients for lunch. Ensure a wholesome lunch is always to hand by periodically batch cooking and stashing ready-meals in your freezer. Soup is a perfect work-from-home lunch – our freezable soup recipe collection has plenty of inspiration for make-ahead broths and blends.
Make the most of lunch breaks
It’s all too easy to work through lunch or eat at your desk when at home, but you can cram a lot into an hour. It's the perfect time to slot in some exercise so you don’t have to eat into your morning or evening free time. Online exercise videos are a good choice if you don’t have time to visit the gym or go on long runs. Alternatively, invest in a trampoline, netball net, hula hoop or yoga mat for al fresco exercise. Read our review of the best home gym equipment for advice on dumbbells, exercise balls and more.
Slow cook your evening meal
Spending part of your lunch break preparing your evening meal allows you to maximise relaxation time at night, plus the time in the kitchen can be a restorative change of environment. Using a slow cooker is the natural choice – we have a wealth of recipe inspiration, from healthy slow cooker recipes to slow cooker family feasts. Alternatively, let your oven do the legwork and create one of our slow-cooked dinners. Our recipe ideas include braised lamb, beef bourguignon and Lancashire hot pot.
Step to it
When you’re not dashing to and from work, your daily step count can significantly plummet. Add to that hours spent slumped over a desk and your activity levels soon diminish. Investing in a fitness tracker can help – some have an alert function that prompts you to get up and move around the house. Alternatively, go analogue and use your phone health app and an alarm system to set regular reminders.
The benefits of drinking water are manifold. Hydration is needed for digestion, for our heart and circulation, for temperature control and for our brain to work well. It’s thought that water can boost mental performance and just mild dehydration can cause fatigue and headaches. Since maintaining concentration and focus are big challenges when working at home, ensuring you're adequately quenched is a no-brainer. Fill up a jug or reusable bottle with a target amount of water at the start of the day to remind you to keep sipping.
Track your caffeine intake
The kettle can be a major distraction when you’re at home. If you’re prone to endless cups of tea or working your way through huge cafetières of coffee, try to be aware of recommended caffeine intakes. Drinking caffeine too late in the day can result in disrupted sleep. Our health spotlight feature on caffeine provides daily limits and advice on the effects of coffee, tea and other caffeinated drinks.
Be strict when it comes to your working hours. It's tempting to check in on emails and keep your laptop open in the evening, but making a clean break is important. The same applies for checking work emails on your phone – try to reduce technology use towards the end of the day. Building relaxation, exercise and mindfulness into your day will help make for contented evenings. Certain meal choices can also aid better sleep. Read our guide to getting a good night’s sleep to ensure you're making all the right moves towards optimum shut-eye.
Do you work from home? Share your experiences with us in the comments below...