Putting work culture back on track

The transition from Work From Home to Work from Office is fraught with challenges. Apart from attending to the damaged hair, skin and checking belly fat, a health check-up should be a priority, advise experts

August 30, 2021 10:31 am | Updated 11:24 am IST

Dr Lakshmi Divya

Dr Lakshmi Divya

The pandemic brought in a paradigm shift in our approach to work culture, owing to the work from home situation. Comfort over style, flexibility over fixed deadlines, slouching over straight posture and snacks over a good meal have all led to a lifestyle that hinged on the breakdown of normal professional behaviour.


Hair woes

Most women sported messy buns and tight ponytails while working from home, causing damage to their hair. Dermatologist Dr Lakshmi Divya says, "Hairstyles that pull hair back cause pain at the hairline and damages your hair. A constant ponytail can lead to follicle damage and breakage, triggering a receding hairline. This is called traction alopecia.”

Tightly knotted hairstyles are not good while sleeping either. “Tied up hair or the friction while rolling on the bed can cause strain on hair roots leading to thinning and loss of texture to the hair. Even the elastic band can cause the snapping of strands. Use of satin fabric wrap around the elastic or a choice of scarf or ribbon to tie the hair while sleeping is a good option.

Loungewear lies

Dr Rajiv, Consultant Nephrologist

Dr Rajiv, Consultant Nephrologist

Innumerable memes aside, WFH made us discard our formal dresses and opt for casual pyjamas and loungewear 24x7, effectively concealing the stealthily growing flab. Dr Rajiv, Consultant Nephrologist says, “Abdominal fat has little to do with the comfort clothes associated with WFH. Some people might indeed find it easier to control their inner lazy snacking panda self in formal clothes. What does aggravate belly fat is a combination of inveterate snacking, lack of exercise and disrupted sleep — the holy trifecta of WFH.”

With the right attitude, returning to the office can be a plus for health, with a greater opportunity to move, walk around and climb stairs, says Dr Rajiv. “All those steps count even if they don’t add up to 10,000. But ideally, you should turbocharge your metabolism with a morning workout. A 10-minute session of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) will keep your metabolism humming throughout the day, burning calories even when you are sitting at a desk, and lowers stress hormones - which reduces belly fat.”

Dust those dumbbells

Fitness coach Babita Jacqueline Xavier

Fitness coach Babita Jacqueline Xavier

With limited mobility and exercise during the pandemic, fitness routines have gone for a toss for many. To those who want to resume, Running Coach with ASICSINDIA and celebrity trainer Babita Jacqueline Xavier has a word of caution: “After being locked in at home with home workouts, one must take it easy and slow start the outdoor or gym workouts. Too much too soon, too fast is the road to injuries. Avoid this road."

If you have exercised in casual clothes all these days and are ready to step outdoors for workouts, it is important to pay attention to what you wear says, Babita. “You may be more comfortable wearing clothes that are breathable, fit well and will wick the sweat away from your body. Avoid wearing super-loose clothes that may topple over your head or get caught with the equipment you use during your workout. Be aware of the material you choose, especially if you sweat a lot.”

Watch out for the big C

Dr P Raghuram, Founding Director, KIMS-Ushalakshmi Centre for Breast Diseases

Dr P Raghuram, Founding Director, KIMS-Ushalakshmi Centre for Breast Diseases

The WFH situation also made women discard the bra. Dr P Raghuram, Founding Director, KIMS-Ushalakshmi Centre for Breast Diseases says, “Many women have breast pain either due to wearing an ill-fitting bra and not wearing one at all. By not wearing a bra, the weight of the breast, particularly if the breasts are large, can cause breast pain and also muscular pain in the back, neck and shoulders. When breasts sag due to ageing, not wearing a bra can further worsen the condition. And so, wearing a correctly fitting bra helps relieve breast pain and posture relating issues.’"

Mental health matters

Dr Purnima Nagaraja, psychiatrist and psychotherapist.

Dr Purnima Nagaraja, psychiatrist and psychotherapist.

Just as adjusting to WFH was difficult, getting back to offices will be equally difficult, says Dr Purnima Nagaraja, psychiatrist and psychotherapist.

People may be looking forward to getting back to work. But work has its own stresses and office dynamics, cautions Dr Purnima. “Any problem with colleagues while working online is going to resurface and it will be worse because you are face to face. So dynamics have to be worked out.”

Since we are likely to be double-masked at work now, it is important to take it off for a five-minute breather and not get paranoid if someone coughs or sneezes. It could be fairly harmless, points out Dr Purnima and suggests that organisations should rearrange their culture and probably allow their staff to take power naps, “Either at their desks or provide camp-cots as a few MNCs do. People have got used to taking short naps and they need to refresh themselves. These are all new routines one has to rework into office life.”

Dr Purnima also points out a culture where people work with many windows open and watching several things at different times. “That is an absolute no-no at any office. We need to undergo a digital detox. We all got hooked on our phones because we had nothing else to do. Work should overtake the time we spend on gadgets. We need to gear up for this challenge.”

For those who are yet to start WFO, Dr Purnima suggest that they start a routine at least 15 days before they get back to work. “Get up early, take a shower and get dressed as if you are going to the office. I have been saying this all along, don't sit in your nightclothes, but dress up, and create a workspace.”

During the second wave of the pandemic, the world went into Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). People suffered from depression, anxiety, bodyweight issues, eating disorders, relationship issues — all these popped up overnight and mushroomed into a mental health crisis. Dr Purnima stresses the importance of having counsellors on board in offices. “They need people to talk to other than HR and be able to destress themselves.”

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