Many of the negative experiences that are associated with traditional office work happen outside of the office—like having to wake up at the crack of dawn, skipping breakfast for lack of time, and battling the crowds in public transit or sitting in traffic during a long commute. But what about the issues that arise from working IN the office?
It turns out that working in an office setting may not be good for us physically and mentally. Sometimes, it even makes us wonder if we’re meant to be working in an office (or worse, a cubicle) at all. Working in an office might be a lot worse for us than we may think. Here are some reasons why:
Working in an office makes you gain weight.
It’s fairly well-known that desk jobs are making employees fat. Trendy and forward-thinking companies are trying to lure in talent using food. They’re offering everything from daily catered lunches to candy walls. Other office workers without catered lunches are also at risk for weight gain from eating out. All of this food coupled with a day of sitting at a desk can be hurting your health and waistline.
Working in an office brings far more food-related temptations than working at home. According to a study by CareerBuilder, some of the following in-office activities are contributing to the weight gain: sitting at my desk most of the day (56%), workplace celebrations (potlucks, birthdays) (17%), eating out regularly (26%), and eating because of stress (35%). This increased weight gain puts you at risk for more health problems such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and high blood pressure.
Remote employees aren’t necessarily spared from health issues related to obesity, but they’re in more control over what they eat. There aren’t any birthday cakes being brought in or leftover baked goods (unless, of course, you bake them yourself). Snacks and meals are totally under your control—you can only snack on what you buy, so if you don’t want unhealthy snacks, just don’t buy them.
Working in an office is making you sick.
Feel a cold coming on? There’s a good chance that you got the virus from your coworker. It’s not entirely your coworker’s fault—it’s part of our culture to try our hardest to be in the office as much as possible. A New York Times article on sickness in an office explains that our culture promotes a phenomenon coined “presenteeism” (being present in the office), causing an increased number of employees dragging their sick selves into the office.
When people become sick office martyrs, this isn’t good for the other healthy employees for obvious reasons. They’re spreading the virus throughout the course of the day, eventually infecting one or more of their coworkers. Many of these viruses can survive on surfaces for days, so unless you’re wiping down everything with bleach every day, everyone’s health is at risk once one person gets a bug.
Remote employees have a lesser chance of getting sick than in-office employees because you’re surrounded by fewer people. When you’re around fewer people (especially sick people), it’s less likely that you’ll get infected by someone else’s illness.
In an office, there’s often no natural light.
If you’re not in a window seat at your office and are surrounded by fluorescent lighting, you could be damaging your mental health. One former office worker said, “My vitamin D levels dropped significantly, which I attribute to the fact that I was sitting in a room with no access to natural light.”
Not having access to natural light could even be making office employees depressed. According to Mental Health Research UK, “The lack of daily sunlight can lead to feelings of lethargy and depression, which can develop further into SAD.”
When working from home, you have lots of options to work with natural light. You can move to the brightest room in the house or even work outside.
Working in an office is bad for your mental health.
Loud phone talkers. Sniffers. Loud music. Keyboard pounders. If you’ve ever been in an office, you’ve seen them all. We all know the common distractions that happen in an office that can derail your productivity.
For some workers, these sorts of distractions are causing increased stress, blood pressure, and employee turnover rates. This isn’t surprising, since all of these distractions are, well, annoying. According to an article on My Virtual Medical Centre, some of the problems caused by an office environment include high levels of noise, reducing productivity, and insecurity from the lack of privacy. Tolerating these behaviors day after day takes a toll on your mind, causing stress in the workplace.
For employees who work at home, working in peace and privacy aren’t significant issues, because you’re not physically with your coworkers. You’re more in control over your environment, because you have mobility on your side.
Considering all the issues that are caused by the office, it really makes you think twice about what the office is really doing to your well-being. Empower yourself and encourage flexible working to reduce these common office problems. Don’t let the office drag down your health, because it’s not worth sacrificing your body and mind.
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