The Future Remote Worker

By Will Capper

Has your company adapted to remote working? Well, meet Susan - a visual representation of the remote worker in 25 years.

With lockdown having forced people across the globe into what has been the world’s largest remote working experiment, our usual interpretation of the perk has been transformed forever. Whilst your bed-to-desk commute may allow for more free time and independence, will the physical repercussions to your mind and body be worth it in the future?

Job discovery platform,  DirectlyApply  reveals how remote workers could look in the next 25 years if they don’t change their home working habits. From reduced social interaction and lack of proper exercise, to hunched shoulders and digital eye strain - here we outline the many physical implications of what spending hours glued to your laptop can unknowingly be doing to your physical and mental wellbeing.

The Health Implications of Remote Working

Before Covid-19, a study carried out by IWG found that 80% of people would turn down a job offer  that didn’t offer flexible working  when faced with two similar employment offers. Yet despite 50% of companies doing daily video calls during lockdown, 29% still feel  less productive than ever before .

Coronavirus has undoubtedly revolutionised the way companies work, with many businesses already looking to implement permanent hybrid and flexible working schemes - but just how long will it take before the benefits of remote work no longer outweigh the negatives?

How Susan Was Born

In order to create the future of the remote worker, we worked together with a team of clinical psychologists and fitness experts to determine the effects remote working has on both our physical and mental health.

The end product, Susan, is a construct of advice from health experts portraying the effects isolated working can have on your body if we don’t take the necessary steps to avoid them.

Top Remote Working Tips for Maintaining Mental and Physical Health

If you’re filling out your next remote  online job application  make sure you consider these tips to ensure that, first and foremost, you are looking after your health while working from home.

1. Routine

When working remotely it’s important to maintain a steady routine.  Dr Rachel M Allan, Chartered Counselling Psychologist , reveals that “sticking to a routine that suits your life, your productivity levels and your job demands is essential to maintaining emotional health when working remotely. Routine empowers us to manage our time, and optimise our focus. Think about how you want to manage your time and what would work best in the broader context of your life.”

2. Nurture social connections

One of the main challenges we face with remote working is the lack of face to face human contact.  Kate Brierton, Clinical Psychologist , comments that “going without human contact for long periods of time can lead to higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which raises blood pressure and has harmful effects on physical health.” Positive working relationships are good for morale, productivity and boosting emotional health at work. According to Dr Rachel M Allan, “some of our most important professional relationships have their origins in the informal chats and unstructured moments that occur organically in the physical workplace. Remote working may require us to consciously build in opportunities to connect informally with colleagues.”

3. Exercise

Being stuck sitting in front of a screen all day can mean we're significantly lacking in physical activity. It’s important to take time to exercise and get some fresh air after a long day of remote working.  Joe Mitton, Personal Trainer  recommends Yoga as “the perfect remedy for stiffness and 'tech neck'.

4. Work-life balance

It's easy to lose track of work-life balance when remote working. Kate Brierton, Clinical Psychologist, advises to “remind yourself that you need down-time so you can stay healthy and be the best version of yourself both at work and home. Try to have a delineated home-working space if you can, ideally a separate room, but if that's not possible, delineate the space with the way you lay out the furniture, use some house plants or pictures to mark your working space, or divide the floor space with a rug. Set a reminder up on your phone or screen to take regular breaks, getting up and moving around, eating and drinking properly and getting outside for some physical exercise if possible.”

5. Utilise your free time wisely

One of the great benefits of remote working is the fact that you don't have to commute, with all the stress of driving at rush hour or using busy public transport. Kate Brierton, Clinical Psychologist reveals that remote working is a great time-saver and opportunity ”to support your physical and emotional health. You could spend that time socialising with friends and family, taking a walk in nature, or doing a fitness activity you enjoy. All of these activities are good for us and will improve your overall performance at work more than simply having a longer working day.”

6. More collaboration

Working remotely doesn't have to mean working alone and is actually the perfect opportunity to improve teamwork and improve collaboration.  Physiotherapist Emma James  recommends setting up “team meetings and encouraging movement within the meeting; perhaps as part of team building initiative, 10 o ’clock meeting is ‘sip and stretch’.” This will also encourage better organisation and structure between co-workers.