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Ignore the great outdoors at the expense of your wellbeing

Emma Ellis, from Redwood Ellis, claims the sudden move to home working in March 2020 led to many first time home workers inadvertently overlooking their physical and mental wellbeing

The stigma around working from home (WFH) was ingrained within many UK businesses, they struggled to perceive working from home as a credible, productive option the idea that good workers have to be in the office was still prevalent in many workplaces pre-pandemic.

In the UK whilst every worker has the right to request flexible working the employer has the final say. Businesses have traditionally been slow to embrace this change despite the well-documented benefits of allowing employees more control over how they work.

Then the pandemic hit; the Office of National Statistics (ONS) reported, ‘By April 2020, 46.6% of people in employment engaged in some form of remote working and of those, 86.0% did so as a result of COVID-19’.

Combine the outmoded stigma of WFH with the pandemic forcing nearly 40% of employees to become new home workers, (many of whom may have wanted to WFH for some time) and you have the prospect of creating over-worked stressed out employees; Stress due to the reluctance to step away from their desks for fear of missing emails or phone calls and being made to feel taking a break equates to watching Netflix.

This fear is perhaps one of the reasons that led many employees working an average 2 hours extra per day according to the ONS. ‘Those who have recently started working from home worked the most hours per week, both in part-time roles and full-time roles and by September 2020, a greater proportion of homeworkers worked in the evening, indicating that homeworkers continued to work during hours where they may have commuted’.

Employees were working through lunch breaks, taking less exercise and not getting the vitamin D recommended by the NHS. This has undoubtedly had a negative impact on their wellbeing.

It is well documented that spending time in green spaces or bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. Exercising, or just being outdoors, improves your mood and physical health as well a reducing feelings of stress.

In the wellbeing 1:1’s and surveys, conducted by Redwood Ellis, only 15% of people took a regular break during the day. The vast majority felt under pressure to stay at their desks despite knowing the benefits of getting outside in the daytime – it’s not rocket science.

As fear around the pandemic is easing and the UK gradually opens up hopefully these working from home newbies will embrace the outdoors once again, because agile working is here to stay and we all need to find a healthier way to manage our lifestyles and mental and physical wellbeing.

If you would like to chat further about your teams’ wellbeing please contact Emma Ellis, Director and Founder, Redwood Ellis.

Published in CIWM (Chartered Institute of Wastes Management) Circular Magazine

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