Working Out Working Post-Lockdown

As lockdown begins to ease, companies and employees alike are still trying to figure out what our new working landscape will look like as COVID looks here to stay.

Many companies have gravitated to one extreme or another on the spectrum, but there still doesn’t seem to be a common consensus on what approach to adopt

More Techie business like Twitter have opted to entirely write off offices for the rest of 2020.  While others, like Citi, are adopting a more moderate approach and asking only small numbers (<10%) to return to the office to prevent a second wave of infection from happening. 

But when considering what working will look like for the foreseeable future, we’re still left with a glean of uncertainty – as has seemed to be the case with most concerns since the beginning of outbreak!

Indeed, there remains a palpable tension between government guidelines, scientific recommendation and public need when it comes to deciphering whether we are ready to lift lockdown or risk a coronavirus resurgence.

What will the working environment look like?

Although at this stage we can’t speak with certainty about how COVID will affect the workplace in practice, we can however make some reasonable assertions of what to expect.

Namely it does look very likely that we can expect a one-way, long-term drift away from mass office participation and hotdesks.

Indeed, businessman Sir Martin Sorrell bolstered this idea when he revealed that he’d rather invest the £35m he usually spends on expensive offices in people instead.

And in the US companies are taking measures to encourage employees to buckle down and get comfortable at their home desks – Google are even offering employees $1,000 to buy and install a desk to make working from home more viable, comfortable and efficient. 

So, although the rules of the new way of working remain obfuscated, the majority of us can expect to continue to work from home for some time yet.

How does working from home affect our health and routine?

So far, after over two months of working from home, we can safely say that the novelty has worn off for many, but it’s clear that it comes with its own advantages and disadvantages.

In previous blogs we have covered the impact it can have on social dynamics as well as our eating patterns and exercise regimes

When it comes to our diets and lockdowns, the rule seems to be that the closer one is to the kitchen, the more likely one is to indulge!  And although we’ve been turning to comfort foods such as cakes and sweets to help us adjust to this new reality, on the flipside the number of takeaways ordered and devoured has decreased!

Perhaps understandingly, alcohol consumption has also soared, with sales up over 67% in March when lockdown began. Not only has a tipple (or two) been indulged in a similar way to how people have turned to comfort foods, but many have also got into the habit of having a drink to mark the end of the working day.

And with the knowledge of a longer lie-in now that we’re rid of the daily commute, it seems the temptation is all too real.

However, the danger with this attitude is that weekdays merge into weekend days and contribute to a general feeling of loss of structure, which can make daily life feel off kilter and be generally unsettling.

Has lockdown made us pack on the pounds?

In short, largely (pun not intended) yes.

Here in Blighty, our appetites have become mighty – The London Evening Standard reported that as many as 47% of us have put on weight since lockdown began in March, with “more than 16% gaining 2.2kg (5lbs) or more in the first six weeks.”

And it’s not just us Brits who are over-indulging, across the pond in the US, the weight gain seems to be such a collective experience that “memes about gaining the Quarantine 15 or the Covid-20” have spread “faster than a germ on a doorknob”, according to the Los Angeles Times.

However, there are yet to be any recognised studies conducted to confirm the anecdotal reports.

Meanwhile our European neighbours have undertaken a range of national surveys of one sort or another. Italians emerged from two months of lockdown an average 2kg (4.4lbs) heavier.

While in France the impact of lockdown was even more pronounced, with the average citizen gaining 2.5kg (5.5lbs). 

And the findings in Israel seemed to corroborate this pattern with a university-based study which found that 55% of Israelis gained more than 2kg while stuck at home.

What is our government doing to counterbalance weight gain?

The response of the UK Establishment is a bit depressing. 

The British Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society (BOMSS) has urged Johnson to back increased access to “bariatric operations”, or weight loss surgery. 

They have entirely circumvented the easier and more sensible response of endorsing and supporting healthy eating and more exercise

Though it is reassuring to see the British media encouraging the government to take a more proactive stance on public health and fitness.  Just one example is The Guardian who reported on experts imploring the Prime Minister to introduce more weight loss treatments in the UK.

We’ve already acknowledged the correlation between obesity and severe symptoms of Covid-19, so considering that 30% of adults in the UK are obese, it’s no surprise that we have suffered the highest number of Covid-19 related deaths in the continent.

After all Britain is described as ‘the fat man of Europe!” … but it doesn’t have to be this way.

How can you stay on top of your diet and fitness as we look to continue to work from home?

We’ve acknowledged that WFH comes with its many temptations, but there are ways we can keep our indulgences at bay and the cookie in the cookie jar, not our stomachs.

Research has shown that people who plan their meals in advance tend to eat healthier. 

Writing a shopping list and limiting supermarket runs during the pandemic means that not only will you be more intentional with what you eat, but – if you stick to the list – you’ll avoid spontaneous splurges on sugary treats and comfort foods that could set your diet off balance. 

The old adage goes that abs are made in the kitchen, but that doesn’t mean we should forgo exercise as we also know that maintaining an active lifestyle not only contributes to weight maintenance but also overall physical and mental health.

Unfortunately, however, nothing torpedoes step count like a home office

Without a commute or jaunt out the office to buy lunch, our steps have halved and sitting hours have increased drastically.   And it’s not like we can just pop to the gym to counterbalance our ever-increasing sedentary lifestyles (and waistlines), so we must have even more motivation and focus to ensure our fitness needs are adequately met. 

In our previous blogs on diet and fitness, we outlined tips to keep your mind and body in tiptop shape, such as meal-prepping, incorporating a daily workout into your schedule, and laying off the booze.

Indeed, it is these principles that inform our programme at CorLife and that we firmly stand by.

And the results speak for itself – CorLife’s first cohort to report across lockdown has shown an average 3kg weight loss in 3 months

Better sleeping, better eating and sensible exercise must be negotiated into our new normal, now more than ever!