Why going back to the office is the secret to losing weight and getting a promotion

RISHI SUNAK has told younger employees that going back to work in the office will give their careers a major boost.

The Chancellor argued that being in an environment ­surrounded by colleagues helped to develop his early ­working life, saying: “I doubt I’d have these strong relationships if I was doing the first bit of my career over Zoom.”

Here, Natasha Loder, health policy editor at The Economist, explains why Rishi is right.

TEAM SPIRIT: When everyone is working from home, the workplace ­culture is the same for all.

But as some go back into work, those who stay at home risk losing their connection to the culture of the workplace.

Workers who want to bring their values and spirit into an organisation will also struggle to do so from a distance.

Experienced staff play an important role at work, by showing the new hires the ropes or even just by chatting with others over ­coffee.

It’s easier for younger ­workers to get advice and mentorship, particularly about office politics and how to tackle conflict.

The seemingly casual interactions of the workplace have a big impact on your promotion chances.

A management expert said recently that spending time with colleagues at work ­reinforces the sense of shared mission, which improves work satisfaction. Being in the office makes work feel like a shared endeavour.

Humans seem to thrive when they feel part of something greater than themselves.

This points to some subtle but real benefits of not ­working from home (WFH).

CUT STRESS: While many have reaped the benefits of being nearer their family and having a better work-life balance (and even a quieter work environment) others have not thrived from WFH.

A 2017 report suggests why. It found that many who worked from home did longer hours, had an overlap between work and ­their personal life, and saw their pace of work intensify, leading to stress.

Online ­meetings have also been found to ­trigger fatigue and leave ­workers feeling disconnected.

WFH has been tied to lower social support, feedback and less clarity in one’s role.

Some find these ­problems easy to manage, particularly if they have strong social networks outside work.

Others have found such situations difficult, isolating and even lonely.

Even those who report ­benefits from WFH generally say they want to spend time at work, as they value staying connected to colleagues.

Having interactions with a range of people seems to help keep you mentally healthy and offers a sense of connectedness and belonging.

SHED THE LARD: For many who have worked from home, the lure of the fridge and the biscuit tin has been hard to resist.

New research from Public Health England shows four in ten adults in England have put on weight since March 2020 — about half a stone on average. Older people have put on even more.

Those aged 35 to 65 put on about 10lb, and the main contributor was unhealthy eating habits including “comfort eating”.

 . . . AND GET MOVING: Although we know that sitting at our desks all day is bad for us, that is just what we seem to do far more of when we work from home. WFH has been found to result in a marked decline in physical activity.

Although commuting can be a chore, it is also a source of movement for many people.

A study in Japan suggests a home office layout gives fewer opportunities for physical activity than an office does.

Away from home, workers have to move more to get to the coffee machine, printer, meeting rooms and so on.

Long periods of sitting are incredibly bad for the human body — which was designed to move ­frequently.

STOP SLOUCHING: Many people are working from sofas, beds, bean bags or dining room chairs.

They are hunched over laptops for hours in ways that wouldn’t be allowed at work.

In offices, managers have a legal duty to prevent ill-health caused by poor seating and workspace layout.

At home, you are on your own. Nobody from health and safety will come by to tell you that you need to adjust your monitor height.

No wonder Bupa found in a study that nearly two thirds of Britons (about 11million) had hurt their back, neck, hips, knees or wrists during the pandemic.

There are also growing concerns about the impact WFH is ­having on our eyesight.

The solution is fairly simple. The 20-20-20 rule means looking away from the screen every 20 minutes and looking at something around 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Yet this has been hard for those working from home to achieve, where most work happens via a computer.

TECH NOTE: As has become clear over the pandemic, many struggle with tech problems at home. One issue is that home-office wifi connections can be unreliable.

In any Zoom call, a few will struggle with video quality and connectivity. At work, the tech is slick, and when there is a rare problem, IT staff will come to the rescue.

There is more privacy at work, too. On a Zoom call nobody gets to see your home and judge your furnishings.

And when you leave the office, the “clocking off” effect means you are less likely to feel pressure to check emails out of office hours.

SAVE YOUR LOCAL: There are growing fears that the allure of the home office will permanently damage the economy of our city centres.

Going to work creates economic activity beyond the latte economy. It pays for train drivers, office cleaners, security guards, dry cleaners and city centre pubs.

One study suggests UK GDP will take a £15.5billion hit if pandemic levels of home-working continue.

Even amenities such as museums and cultural centres will be hit by workers’ reluctance to travel back into the office.

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