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Practice Active Design While Working From Home

April 21, 2020

Over the past few weeks, the coronavirus has turned our lives upside down. Many of us are now working from home for the foreseeable future.

As a result, we’re moving less. No longer do we walk to the car or the train station. Our step count is down, with no more trips to the conference room, cafeteria or local lunch spot.

Humans are active creatures by nature. As we continue to socially distance in the weeks to come, we’ll need to be more purposeful about finding ways to move.

Active design is a wellness strategy wherein the attributes of a physical environment promote movement. How can we set up our home workplaces to encourage movement throughout the workday? Here are a few tips:

1. Create a variety of workspaces.

Make yourself move by scheduling time at different “workstations” at home. Stand at the kitchen counter while checking email and sipping your morning coffee. Move to the spare bedroom to take some phone calls. Use every floor of your home to make sure you take the stairs a few times a day.

Set a timer to remind yourself to switch work areas every hour, or even every 30 minutes. Doing so ensures a change in posture, which enhances blood flow and metabolism. Different settings allow our brains to reset and may even get our creative juices flowing.

2. Connect to the outdoors.

Taking in the great outdoors can be as simple as pulling the desk over to the window to get some sunlight. Research shows that natural light is linked to sound sleep, better productivity and improved mood.

If weather permits, working outdoors is worthwhile. Set up your laptop at a table on the patio or steal a few minutes to respond to email in a chair in the backyard. Suddenly, you’ve created another workspace and found a way to get your daily dose of vitamin D.

3. Maintain a healthy diet.

It’s hard to stay focused when we’re hungry. For many of us, it’s extremely hard to walk by the refrigerator without taking a peek. The key to keeping a healthy diet while working from home is to establish the same schedule and balance we had at the office.

At work, we typically eat at specific times with pre-planned meals. Now that we’re at home, it’s wise to take a few minutes to plan out snack and meal times. Focus on meal prep and keep fruits and veggies on hand for snacking. Make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day, too. Getting up to refill a water bottle once every hour is a great way to keep moving throughout the day.

4. Schedule walking meetings.

Video conferences and phone calls are becoming more frequent because we can’t just walk over to a coworker to ask a question or catch up in person. Try to take your calls on the go, perhaps with a walk around the block or the house. Research suggests that walking clears your head and can even lead to bursts of creativity.

The principles of active design no longer apply solely at the office. With a little ingenuity, we can put them to work at home, too. Even small changes in our daily routine can encourage movement and keep our minds and bodies energized.

by Jonathan Webb  Director - Workplace

Jonathan Webb leads KI’s strategic business unit, serving the business market. Jonathan studies workplace trends, uncovers product gaps and develops solutions with the KI team. Jonathan takes part in advanced workplace strategies and documents his findings through white papers, articles and other publications. His recent publications, Understanding Active Design: The Rise of Human Sustainability and Collegiate Design: The New Driver for Workplace Design, have put Jonathan in the media spotlight. Partnering with thought leaders like AECOM, his publications cover diverse subjects including sit/stand benefits, designing training environments and defining work styles. Jonathan holds an MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh School of Business and is a LEED accredited professional.

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