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Is this the next part of the digital revolution?

THE DIGITAL age has revolutionised the way we work: With the flexibility afforded by the internet, remote employment is on the increase as more of the global workforce ditch the daily commute in favour of a short stumble into the home office.

The ability to work in their pyjamas isn’t for everyone but there is an obvious appeal to anyone currently reading this on the tube while inches away from an elbow to the face. Convenience has to be the big positive to this growing trend but is it really healthy to work from your bed?

Two sides of the story

It would be easy to dismiss the practise as being unhealthy for both mind and body. If you are lucky enough to be able bodied then it cannot make sense to lie prone, tapping away at a laptop for an entire working day.

In terms of mental health, there are two very clear theories on this: Writing in The Metro in April 2018, mental health blogger Fiona Thomas stated that working in bed was absolutely essential to her well being. On days when depression prevented any desire or ability to even rise from the sheets, the ability to remain productive was absolutely essential.

It’s easy to forget that some of us don’t actually have that choice to get into a vertical state and commute into a fixed place of work. At times, we can’t even face the prospect of our own home office as our mental state forces our bodies into shutdown.

Many who suffer with mental health issues will surely be able to relate to this story. At the very least, we feel that we are contributing in some way to our employer / clients and, by extension, to wider society.

A temporary solution may therefore be a wise path to follow. A longer term approach will have its detractors but there are many notables who would endorse a career in bed.

Big bed sheets to fill

Some of history’s greatest figures have, at some point, taken to their beds to carry out some of their greatest work and among their number are Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill and Florence Nightingale. Even if you’re producing nothing more enlightening than month end accounts, you’re clearly in good company here.

Documents held in Churchill’s War Rooms reveal what were perceived to be an eccentric approach to work at the time. During our ‘Darkest Hour’ it’s said that Britain’s Wartime Prime Minister would frequently take breakfast in bed and then stay there until the early afternoon, dictating to a waiting secretary.

Anyone considering a horizontal career would therefore be following in some big footsteps but what happens when those feet succumb to bed sores? Surely such a sedentary lifestyle could lead to more wider health problems and the worker would need to do more than guard against the biting bed bugs.

We’ve seen how a flexible approach to our working pattern could aid those suffering from mental health issues but what about our physical well being?

It’s important to remain active, that’s obvious: We’re even seeing office desks attached to treadmills which are polar opposites to the bedroom office. Science behind the theory also looks at the question of productivity, suggesting that our sleep patterns will be altered if we spend too much time in the bedroom.

That theory counters the argument that working in bed saves time: If you can avoid a three hour commute by simply hitting the alarm and reaching for your laptop then you’ve made a good head start on the day but long term, the practise doesn’t havemany modern supporters.

From a physical perspective, there aren’t too many ringing endorsements but if you are determined to try it out, there are some important points to consider.

Retiring to the office

If you are seriously considering whether to work from your own bed, there are some vital aspects to keep in mind. Clearly, comfort is paramount and at risk of handing out a lecture, you should already be sleeping on a mattress that suits your body shape to ensure the best night’s sleep possible. Check with a respected retailer and discuss this point in full as an investment in a new mattress is a logical starting point.

For lengthier horizontal periods, a memory foam mattress might seem like an obvious approach but the medical profession doesn’t necessarily back this up. It’s stated that with long-term, bedridden patients, memory foam is not desirable as its design restricts air flow.

With the patient’s form ‘moulded’ to the mattress, air cannot circulate under the body which can lead to further health issues. Any list of preferred surfaces will define certain criteria and these include foam, air, gel and innerspring coils. It’s a drastic step from long-term hospital patient to horizontal worker but clearly, if you are going to take this step, it makes sense to take this advice and look for the most comfortable and appropriate bed possible.

Next steps

This is a contentious issue and a long-term approach to working from our beds is not going to be ideal for every individual. However, at the very least, there may be occasions when we have no choice. Remote working leaves fewer opportunities for sick days and for those of us who are self employed, being ill simply isn’t an option.

Remember, this article is not intended to provide medical advice and we would suggest you talk things through with your GP at the very least. There can be physical health implications for anyone considering operating in this sedentary fashion in the long term and it’s not an approach that should be taken without an expert opinion.

Ultimately, for the able bodied, there is a choice here and anyone retiring to their bedchamber for an eight hour stint at the laptop should be aware of the implications. In the meantime, the
next time you tell your boss you’re going to ‘sleep on it’, they should, perhaps, be taking you literally.

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