Work From Bed — What’s the Verdict?
The Great Resignation followed on the heels of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, and together they have transformed global work habits. One of the top changes to come from these two periods is working from home. Remote work for some means protection from the ongoing pandemic, while for others, it provides a sense of balance and increased productivity.
This change from the half-hour commute to the five-minute commute has impacted companies across multiple industries, and there’s no sign that remote work is vanishing any time soon. If you thought it was just about working at home from a desk, you’re in for a big surprise: many are working not just from home, but right from their beds. How do they make it work? Is there any drop-off in productivity? And are we setting ourselves up for unknown long-term effects by chasing the “zero-minute” commute?
The Psychological Effects of Working From Bed
At first glance, it seems like working from your bed is all pros and no cons; however, multiple psychological effects need to be examined. It can be much harder to focus without the natural separation that comes from getting up and walking over to a desk; without that natural separation, stress may creep in.
If you’re sitting in bed all day working on spreadsheets and fielding group chat messages, you’re likely going to be mentally tired at the end of the day. However, there’s no physical separation to indicate the end of the workday and the advent of your bedtime routine if you’re already in bed. In essence, you’re carrying that stress with you into your sleeping time, which can make for lower-quality sleep.
When we sit in one place all day, it can be hard to know where to draw the lines between work, rest, play, and sleep. Blurring these lines by working in bed makes it difficult mentally and physically to know when you should be resting.
The Physical Effects of Working From Bed
Not all of the effects of working from bed are psychological, of course: there are plenty of physical effects to think about. You’re sitting up in bed, propped up by pillows, typing away at your laptop.
Working from bed can lead to physical problems, like chronic lower back pain and extended fatigue. Your back isn’t getting the support that would come from a quality office desk chair. If you’re in bed all day looking at a screen, you might have eye strain to contend with, as well as reduced circulation in your legs and feet.
It is also necessary to address the problem of being sedentary. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), physical inactivity is the leading cause of both disease and disability. This means that, while working from your bed might be trendy, it has multiple potential long-term risks to your health.
Does mattress quality make a difference? Absolutely. If you have a great mattress paired with the right pillows, that’s going to help improve your sleep quality. However, a mattress isn’t designed to become your floating workspace; it’s designed to provide peaceful and supportive rest. You are still better off using a standing desk or a traditional desk with a comfortable office chair.
How Working From Bed Affects Your Work
Humans often appreciate structure, and that’s something that can be hard to get from working from your bed.
Your performance at work can suffer in multiple ways, and that stress can carry into your sleep, preventing you from being at your best during the working day. With no separation between work and relaxation, there can be a silent pressure for employees work more, leading to further exhaustion — the very thing that a good sleeping space looks to avoid in the first place.
So — Should You Work From Bed?
The short answer is it’s best not to work from bed. Ultimately, working from bed evokes some strong opinions across the board. Some feel it’s a comfortable way for them to get work done; others feel a little awkward since they’re more accustomed to working at a traditional desk.
There are some notable exceptions to consider. For example, if you’re on bed-rest for a medical condition, working from your bed makes sense. It can help reduce the paid time off that you have to take, while allowing you to preserve comfort and help promote your body’s healing process.
Exceptions aside, however, it is smart to maintain a separation between work, relaxation, and sleep. Good sleep hygiene promotes not just sleep, but quality sleep. One of the biggest reasons to avoid working from your bed is that it ties you to your devices. It can feel tempting to go from laptop to phone, flooding your eyes with light.
When you try to sleep in a room that has light, it can interrupt the natural sleep cycles. Since our bodies produce melatonin naturally, working on sleep hygiene encourages your body to make the hormones and chemicals you need for high-quality sleep.
Get intentional about your sleep space. Make sure that you have it as dark as possible for maximum benefit to your snooze time. Give yourself the best mattress for your needs, along with a pillow that supports your neck. Choose sheets that keep you cool in the summer and blankets that leave you feeling toasty in the colder months. It all contributes to a better night’s sleep.
Don’t let yourself get caught up in squeezing more work hours into a day by waking up and immediately logging on. Maintaining an intentional sleep space promotes restful sleep while helping to provide you with replenished energy to face the day. If you’re looking to work from home, investing in a dedicated office setup allows you to preserve your sleeping space, providing you with healthy mental and physical productivity boundaries.