Top tips on how to stay healthy and hygienic while working from home

 02 Jun 2020

COVID-19 restrictions are beginning to lift around New Zealand. While this is cause for optimism, governments are urging us to proceed with caution to continue to contain the spread of the virus.

This means that many of us will continue to work from home for at least the next few weeks, and when we eventually do head back to office – it may well be in a carefully phased manner.

Good habits start at home, and it’s important that we continue to focus on maintaining the good behaviours we’ve built over the last two months – and continue to stay healthy and hygienic while working from home as we prepare for a return to the workplace. We’re not out of the woods yet!

Here are our top tips for staying hygienic and healthy while working from home:

1. Wash your hands regularly and properly

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cleaning your hands regularly with soap and water, and drying thoroughly, rotects against infection. And while we’re working from home, it’s a chance for us to build good hand-washing habits that we can then stick to once we return to the office.

The WHO says that washing your hands properly takes about as long as singing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice.

Read our article on the importance of handwashing here.

2. Drink three litres of water per day to boost immunity and maintain focus

Staying adequately hydrated is an extremely important, yet often forgotten part of keeping our bodies and minds healthy. According to the School of Sport and Exercise at Massey University, even mild dehydration negatively impacts your mood, attention, memory and motor coordination. At a time when lack of routine and increased distraction (like kids at home!) makes it more difficult to concentrate, this is more important than ever.

There have also been studies that speak to the benefits of hydration on immunity, including this research from the University of California’s department of clinical immunology and allergy. The recommended daily water intake for adults is approximately 3 litres – or 12 glasses. Many of us wouldn’t even come close to meeting that target.

Drinking enough water becomes even more difficult when we’re working from home and our usual routine is thrown out of whack. So much of our daily water intake is tied into workplace routine – for example, you may take the opportunity to fill up your water bottle every time you walk away from your desk to speak to a colleague.

So, how can you ensure you’re drinking enough water while working from home?

  • Keep a bottle of water at your working from home station – whether you’ve got the ultimate working from home nook, or you’re moving between your bed and the couch – it’s easy to keep a bottle of water beside you. Try and drink three bottles a day and notice the difference in how you feel.
  • Drink a glass of water every time you’re in the kitchen – let’s face it, while we’re working from home we’re all spending a lot of time in the kitchen. Whether that’s cooking ourselves a gourmet lunch, or heading to the pantry for the umpteenth time in a day hoping that a fun snack has somehow manifested itself since our last visit. Hydration is tied into routine, so try and make it a habit to drink a glass of water every time you visit the kitchen. If you’re anything like us, you’ll be meeting the recommended daily intake by 11am.
Top tips on how to stay healthy and hygienic while working from home 

3. Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces

Right now, we’re spending more time at home than ever – our homes are no longer just our sanctuaries, they’ve also become an office, a school and a gym – which means we’re interacting with surfaces much more than usual.

Every time we venture into the outside world, we bring new germs back into the home. According to the Centre for Disease Control in the US, taking steps to clean and sanitise surfaces in our homes can reduce the chance of you or a loved one contracting COVID-19. Here is how you can protect your family:

  • Know the difference between cleaning and disinfecting – to maintain a hygienic home, it’s important that we’re both cleaning and disinfecting – and no, they’re not the same thing. Cleaning refers to using soapy water or cleaning spray to remove contaminants, dust and debris. Disinfecting refers to using specially formulated disinfecting wipes, or sprays to kill all germs.
  • Focus on high-touch surfaces – experts suggest that COVID-19 can live on surfaces like plastic or stainless steel for up to three days. Therefore, it’s important to focus your cleaning and disinfecting regime on common household items that receive a lot of love from all members of the family including door handles, light switches, TV remotes, toilets, and kitchen and bathroom surfaces.

Top tips on how to stay healthy and hygienic while working from home

While restrictions are beginning to ease, our government has said it will be a slow and careful process to ensure we continue to contain the virus. So, we may be working from home for a while yet, and our return to the office will likely be a phased approach. That means keeping yourself hydrated to maintain focus and boost immunity and keeping homes hygienic and healthy will continue to help in our fight against the virus.