The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives. One of the biggest changes has been the practice of working from home. Even as the pandemic may (hopefully) be nearing its end, working from home might be here to stay. In fact, the number of people who work from home could soon double.

As we’ve gotten used to staring at our laptops in our sweats all day, there are some things to consider. Namely, where in our home should we be working from? A lot of people like working from the comfort of their bed. After all, we spend so much time sleeping, reading and watching TV there, why not get some work done as well? But as tempting as it may sound, your bed may be the worst place to set up shop.

Working From Bed Hurts Your Health

Beds are designed to make you feel relaxed, supported, and ready for rest. They’re not designed for work or for prolonged periods of sitting up. You can hurt your health and well-being by trying to work in bed in ways you may not expect.

  •  Aches and Pains – Working in bed puts your body in an awkward posture that you have to hold for extended periods of time. It doesn’t matter if you have a top-quality matters. Your physical health and conditioning don’t matter either. Poor posture wreaks havoc on your joints and muscles and working from bed makes poor posture inevitable.
  • Sleep – Experts in sleep recommend treating the bedroom like a sleep sanctuary, where every element helps you get quality sleep. Anything that doesn’t accomplish this purpose should stay out of the bedroom. A room built for sleep is the opposite of a room built for work. That is to say, if you treat your bedroom like an office, it will stop serving its intended purpose. Over time, your brain will start to associate your bed with work instead of sleep. The best rule of thumb is to make the bed about sleep, relaxation, sex, and that’s it. Keep the work elsewhere or risk bad sleeping habits.

Working From Bed Hurts Your Productivity

Plenty of people put up with aches, pains and fatigue of working from bed to try and get their work done. For these people, working from bed is still a bad option because it only makes it harder to do good work on schedule.

  • Distractions –You may be trying to get work done and be tempted to have your TV on in the background. Or you might get tired and decide to rest your eyes, leading to an unintended nap. If your goal is to stay focused on the task at hand, you’re not doing any favors by working in bed. 
  • Limitations – Your desk has space for all the devices and documents you need, your office supplies are close at hand, you have things like a printer nearby. It provides an optimal space for working. Your bed may be comfortable, but it’s a less-than-optimal environment for trying to get things done efficiently. Why work in a space that limits how much you get done or how fast?

A view of a woman at a desk with two screens working from home.

How Companies Can Support Remote Workers

Employers and employees both have a stake in getting workers out of bed. A company only benefits when the people it relies on feel good and have the means to succeed. One study suggests that by 2025, 70% of employees will work remotely at least five days a month. Companies should take some responsibility for helping employees create effective workspaces in their homes. 

That can manifest itself in several ways. Some companies have started offering stipends to help employees cover the cost of setting up a home office. Conceivably, some employees work from bed because they don’t have a better work-from-home space. Companies can help get employees into an effective workspace by offering to pay for things like a desk or a quality monitor. These small investments pay dividends in the form of healthy employees who get everything done. There are plenty of small bedroom ideas to help maximize space in your home.

Companies also need to equip their remote workers with the technology and productivity tools necessary to get everything done from outside the office. If remote work is here to stay, it needs to equal working from the office in terms of efficiency, convenience and capability. Countless tools exist that give people access to the data, applications and collaborators they need to excel at their tasks, and companies should foot the bill. 

Finally, companies relying on remote workers shouldn’t rely on technology or a home office set up to ensure that people are thriving at work. Ultimately, that’s the job of managers and supervisors, and it couldn’t be more important. Working from home can leave people feeling lonely and isolated, even if they choose to work there. It’s important to have human contact and connections throughout the workday. Setting up daily or weekly check-ins to talk about work and overall well-being can foster a sense of connection and community that would be lost otherwise. Often, the best way to support remote workers is simply to ask if they’re doing ok and what they need to succeed. 

A woman working from home.

Maintaining Work-Life Balance From Home

How do you maintain a work-life balance when you work where you live? This conundrum faces everyone who starts working remotely, and the answer is different for everyone. Whatever that answer may be, however, it’s important to articulate because otherwise the balance can get destroyed and lead someone to hate their job, their home, or both. 

All of the remote work advice come down to maintaining schedules and rules. For example, always starting and stopping at the same time of day, or never checking work emails during lunch breaks. Remote work takes discipline to remain productive. The byproduct of that discipline is that work doesn’t bleed into life.

Take working from bed. If you are disciplined about keeping your laptop out of the bedroom (even when it seems very tempting) you won’t compromise your sleep space. Alternately, when you’re disciplined about getting everything done on schedule, you won’t feel tempted to catch up in bed at night or first thing in the morning. 

This can feel like a bit of a paradox at first because many people associate working from home with a greater sense of freedom and flexibility. In practice, though, the best way to stay focused, healthy, and productive at home is to be rigorous about how you work. Lean into what works and cut out what doesn’t. 

How Your Bed Helps With Remote Work

Your bed and your home-based job aren’t completely unrelated because when you sleep well you work more effectively. You have more focus and think more clearly. Alternately, when you don’t sleep well it can be hard to work as effectively as you normally would. And if you’re getting bad sleep night after night, your thought process, job performance, and career trajectory could all suffer as a result. Don’t use your mattress to work – ever, ideally. Otherwise, it could be easy to develop bad sleeping habits while working remotely. Instead, use a quality mattress to help you relax at night and recharge for the next workday. Your mattress is a great work tool as long as you never use it to work.