The Perils of WFH: The future’s not so bright, the future’s Susan…

Lockdown hit us like a bolt from the blue, but it did come with its novelties.

The majority welcomed the lack of the dreaded daily commute, and many revelled in the luxury of more spare time in the day to enjoy.

However, despite the additional hours to… erm… walk around our homes, the shine of working from home soon started to wear off for many, and the gloss quickly became dross!

Though many propose adopting a half-way house (pun intended) between our former chaotic commuting lifestyles and our more sedentary working from home routines, we can still take positive elements from both ways of life. 

While we’ve acknowledged that there are beneficial aspects to working from home, such as more time to invest in exercise and self-care and the freedom to take control of our time management, there are also some more destructive and unhealthy repercussions to living a hermitized life.

Meet Susan, the face and body of our not so bright futures.

Job discovery platform Directlyapply created a computer generated image of what they envision the worker from home of the future to look like… and it’s not so rosy (unless rosacea counts.)

In recent pop culture the name ‘Karen’ has been stigmatised, and now prepare for Susan to carry its own stigma.

Acquaint yourselves with dark under eye circles, protruding guts, and thinning hair – the not-so-pretty fate that awaits us if we continue our bad WFH habits for the next 25 years.

The company has laid out – warts and all – the physical ramifications of staying in bad habits while working from home, including curved spines or ‘tech neck’ from sitting with bad posture, thinning hair from lack of sun exposure and vitamin D, and accelerated aging of the skin from squinting at screens all day. 

If you don’t believe us then see for yourself…

Design Boom: Meet Susan: A lifelike representation of a future remote worker in 2045

And the damage is not just skin deep, the company predicts that working from home with little balance can negatively impact your mental state too.  We all know that our physical and mental states are intricately connected which is why staying active and physically fit benefits our mental health.

So judging by Susan’s appearance we can presume that she is as mentally out of shape as she is physically.  

Plus a sustained lack of human contact leads to higher production of the stress hormone cortisol which is associated with raised blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.  

Design Boom: Meet Susan: A lifelike representation of a future remote worker in 2045

So is the future of working from home all doom and gloom? No, it doesn’t have to be.

As the old adage goes, balance is key. If we take the positive elements of our previous office lifestyles and incorporate them into our WFH routine then we can avoid becoming a ‘Susan.’

Here are five basic principles to follow:

Stay active

While WFH we no longer have to commit to the dreaded commute. And though that has its upsides of not finding your nose nestled in the sweaty underarm of a fellow commuter first thing in the morning, it also means that automatically we are getting less steps.

We all know that keeping active wards off obesity and helps elevate our mood, so there’s every reason to invest in getting your desired daily 10k steps.

Plus with the saved time from not commuting there’s really no excuse to not incorporate a daily walk into your routine, especially to stretch out those stiff legs from under your desk.

Don’t mindlessly snack

With our snack cupboards in arms reach it’s all too easy to reach for the cookie jar, but put the jar down and step away from the cookies.

WFH requires more self-control than working from an office as we now micro-manage our schedules – who can tell us not to leave our desks and veer to the kitchen for a quick snack?

Plus with the lack of change in scenery we can find ourselves more inclined to get bored, and let’s face it snacking and boredom go hand in hand.

Which is why it’s all the more important to create boundaries, listen to your hunger cues and resist over-indulging for boredom’s sake.

Go outside

Try to ensure you get some fresh air and exposure to the sun. 

Whereas before we had no choice but to step outside even if to just walk to the train station or bus stop, now we must find reasons to venture out and get some vitamin D. 

It’s easy to let a whole day pass without crossing the borders, but if you fall into that trap you could end up with thinning hair or alopecia like Susan. 

Screen cleanse

The temptation to stay glued to your laptop and mobile is all too real. 

However try to make sure that you take a break from screens (which includes catching up on texts during breaks) to avoid developing dark cycles, premature aging from squinting, and strain on your vision.

Get some face time

Human interaction is key which is why ensuring you get some face time, or at the very least FaceTime is so important. Whereas before, whether we liked it or not, we had incessant contact with fellow commuters and colleagues, now, especially if living alone, it is all too easy to go a whole day without having any human interaction. 

But it is important to avoid this or you’re likely to over-produce the stress hormone cortisol leading to higher blood pressure, increased adrenaline and a general slumped feeling. You only need to look at Susan to see she’s not living her best life.

Susan might be the physical embodiment of all the potential perils of working from home, but she’s just a stark warning and not an unavoidable inevitability of the future.  You can prevent yourself from becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy by avoiding the bad habits that are so easy to develop when working from home.

By following the five step guide above you’ll be in good stead to maintain your physical and mental health in this new working environment.  CorLife was developed for this very reason, to help support and sustain health and fitness goals alongside our work commitments.

The programme delivers an innovative solution, delivered remotely, to ensure any business can develop and uphold a healthy and resilient workforce.  Already being used by a number of the UK’s leading businesses including BP, Ineos, RBS and Spirit Energy, CorLife not only provides through the screening and monitoring of mental and physical health, but also by supporting and coaching individuals to improve their personal resilience and fortitude both in the office and at home.