The emergence of Omicron, the more transmissible Covid-19 variant, and its swift spread across the United States have delayed many companies’ scheduled return to the office. CNBC reports that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the first case of Omicron in the country was confirmed as early as November 15.
As of the week of December 5 to 11, Omicron cases already made up almost three percent of Covid-19 cases in the U.S. While 97 percent of current cases are due to the Delta variant, experts predict that Omicron will soon outpace Delta in its rate of transmission.
In response, many companies have already pushed back their return to office as of December 16. Among them, Apple, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Uber, and The New York Times Company have left the schedule open-ended, depending on developments in the pandemic. Meta, Facebook’s mother company, Twitter, and PwC stated that employees who can do their jobs from home are allowed to do so permanently.
An analysis by Gallup shows that half of the 125 million full-time jobs in the United States can be done remotely. This means 60 million jobs. Among those employees, 30 percent prefer to work from home permanently. The majority, or 60 percent, want a hybrid of office-based and home-based work. Most of them prefer to go to the office only two to three times a week. Only 10 percent want to work in the office all week.
While there is a marked preference to work from home full-time or part of the time, this arrangement also has downsides that must be prevented. If you are working from home and recognize any of the risks below, you must immediately address them.
Poor Indoor Air Quality and Temperature Control
Staying home longer than pre-pandemic times means you breathe in more of your indoor air. If you have not yet done so before, it is time to hire a professional to check and ensure that you do not have a “sick” house. This means having a house that has polluted indoor air.
Pollution can come from toxic materials used in the house, such as asbestos in the insulation and lead in the paint. Dangerous, volatile organic compounds (VOC) can also come from paint, pressed wood fiberboard, varnish, and everyday products like dry-cleaned clothing, spot removers, cleaners, and many more. Other possible pollutants are radon gas from the soil, carbon monoxide leaking from gas-fueled appliances, and mold and fungi that grow on moist surfaces.
If any of these are detected in your house, you also need to hire certified professionals to remove them. These substances require special handling, and the residents must be evacuated during the removal.
Once the house has been rehabilitated, ensure that you regularly hire a dryer vent cleaning service to sanitize and disinfect your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system. This will prevent the build-up of dust, debris, and molds.
To work comfortably and remain productive all year, the house must be properly insulated against both hot and cold weather. Ensure that the type of insulation used is approved for safety by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Unhealthy Eating Patterns
When working from home, the refrigerator and pantry are close at hand. It is easy to slide into the habit of continuous snacking while working. Even worse, chips and other unhealthy food are usually the most convenient to have.
On the other extreme, some people get so engrossed with work. Because there are no officemates around to signal the lunch break, meals are overlooked. Sometimes, people eat junk food all day long.
If you must snack, prepare healthy snacks such as air-popped unbuttered popcorn with only a sprinkling of salt or slices of fruit. Allocate time to prepare lunch in advance – perhaps before starting work in the morning or the previous night. Set an alarm to remind you to have lunch.
Because there is no commute to the office and back home, some people become almost sedentary. They only walk inside the house. Do not fall into such a rut. In the morning or after work hours, make time to go for a run or even just a long brisk walk outside. The fresh air will also refresh your mind and prevent you from having cabin fever.
It is also unhealthy to stay seated eight hours a day. Replace your work desk at home with one that can convert to a standing desk with a simple click. Set alarms every hour to remind yourself to alternate between seating and standing.
Lack of Boundaries
Some people who work from home realize that they often find it difficult to set clear boundaries between work hours and home life. Instead of disconnecting from work after the scheduled work hours, they work overtime. This is a sure path toward burnout.
Working from home is a great arrangement if you make it so. It is up to you to enjoy remote work benefits and avoid all its hazards.