Why We Have The Features We Do

Having worked from home since 2012, co-founder Daniel is the perfect case study for Working Den. The problems he has experienced are common to the working-from-home lifestyle, and his experience has helped us to develop solutions to each of those problems.

One of the first things Daniel experienced when he began working from home was burnout. Not able to separate work life from home life, he struggled and continuously worked long hours. He suffered from burnout for quite a while before he realised it as he didn’t know what the symptoms were, far less how to recover from it. Our Burnout Assessment will help you find out if you have burnout and, if you do, how you can recover from it.

Following burnout, Daniel went through a prolonged period of depression that eventually left him feeling suicidal. Working from home is lonely and every day can blur into the next if you don’t leave your house or change up your routine often enough. As with burnout, Daniel was unaware that his loss of confidence, lack of motivation and lost ability to experience enjoyment were all caused by depression. If you fear you may have depression, then take our Depression Assessment to get both a diagnosis and tips on how to deal with any issues.

In his journey to beat depression, Daniel read “Lost Connections” by Johann Hari.[1] This book discovered that one of the major causes of depression is the loss of connection to nature and claimed that you can feel less depressed just by seeing nature. For this reason, we have put a whole video section of Nature Videos on the site. We recommend you spend a few minutes each day watching videos from this section to help your mental health, and we also recommend you play the videos during your breaks to help you escape “tech overload”. (NB: Lost Connections is one of the best books you’ll ever read. If you get a chance – read it!).

One consequence of “tech overload” is the strain it can put on your eyes.[2] Daniel went from having perfect 20-20 eyesight before working from home to needing to wear glasses within a few years because his eyesight had deteriorated as a result of so much screen time. Daniel’s optician recommended that he followed the 20-20-20 rule, which means for every 20 minutes of screen time, you must look 20 metres away for 20 seconds.[3] This helps your eyes recover from strain and helps prevent loss of eyesight. Daniel frequently failed to remember to do this, however, and found that setting a watch to constantly time it was a big hassle. His solution was to create automatic warnings on his computer every 20 minutes, and these Eye Strain Warnings are a big feature of Working Den. This feature alone could save your eyesight and make a big difference to your life. It’s Daniel’s favourite feature of Working Den.

Every time you log in to Working Den, a warning comes up asking if you are dressed. This may sound stupid, but something we regularly hear from those new to working from home is that they don’t get dressed until later in the day. Daniel fell victim to this himself when he first started working from home (partly because of his depression). Separating work from home life is incredibly important, and not getting dressed in the morning has been linked to problems with productivity, sleep patterns and mental health.[4] Our “Are you dressed?” pop-ups are a gentle reminder to get dressed and start the day in the correct way if you haven’t already done so – and come on, let’s face it, everyone needs a reminder about this every now and again when working from home!

Working Den is for anyone who works from home, regardless of where you live, so we haven’t included a DSE Assessment just because it’s a legal requirement in the UK. We’ve done so because it’s a very valuable assessment that you will learn a lot from. Co-founder Daniel started working from home without a correct ergonomic setup and was hampered by this. The science behind a good homeworking setup was a real eye-opener for him, as it will be for most people who take the Health and Safety training and DSE assessment that goes with it.

Something you will experience if you are sitting in front of a computer most of the time when working from home is pain in several areas of the body such as your back and shoulders. The best cure for this is prevention. By spending five to ten minutes per day following our guidance in the Stretches You Should Be Doing section, you should be able to minimise muscle-related problems associated with computer working.[5]

Unless you have been living under a rock, you’ll know that millions started following Joe Wicks’ home workouts when COVID-19 hit. While Joe Wicks’ workouts were good, our Home Workouts have been designed especially for people who sit in front of a computer every day. Speaking from Daniel’s experience, a belly can creep up on your quickly if home working begins to limit the level of physical activity that you were used to pre-home working. That walk to work, the train station or the bus stop may have been a blessing for your health! To add extra value for our users, we also give instructions on the kinds of exercises you should be doing if you want to put your own routine together, and we give in-depth written and video instructions on how to do these exercises correctly.

Feeling stressed? Working from home with no one to vent to can ruin your entire day. And if you do have someone to complain to, your constant moaning will not be doing your relationship with them any good. Worse still, being stressed can cause you to send a message or an email that you wish you hadn’t to your boss, your work colleague or your client. We can help you through those tough moments using our psychologist-recommended STOP technique.[6] Just click on the “Feeling Stressed?” button.

Use the Pomodoro Productivity Sprint to achieve optimum performance and be as productive as you can each day. A “natural concentration cycle” is 90 minutes.[7] If you try to concentrate for any longer than that, productivity falls and you get distracted. Similarly, a 2017 study showed that people who sit for 90 minutes at a time had a two-fold greater risk of death than those who sit for intervals of less than 90 minutes.[8] So, every 45 minutes, our timer alerts you to get up and walk around for a minute or two before continuing with your sprint. Using this feature could, therefore, add years to your life, while ensuring optimum productivity throughout the day! We, therefore, highly recommend that you make use of this.

We have included a Gratitude Diary because research in 2012 found that grateful people experience fewer aches and pains than those who do not practice gratitude. Just as importantly, Robert Emmons, a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.[9]

Every now and again, people need some motivation to get them through the day, and that’s why we have included a feature containing some of the best Motivational Quotes that we know.

If you’re someone who works best in the office or at a coffee shop, finding ambient sounds or background noises that replicate your preferred workspace may restore some sense of order to your days.[10] If you miss the outside world and want some normality, listen to the sounds in the Daily Life Sounds section of Working Den.

Background Music can help you focus by drowning out other noises.[11] A study by Cambridge Sound Management also found that music with lyrics was distracting for 48% of office workers.[12] This is why we have put together a collection of background music without lyrics that should help you maintain your focus throughout the day.

Finally, we have provided you with plenty of our own expert knowledge to help guide you through the best practices that science and our experiences have taught us about working from home.

But we won’t be stopping there! We have a list of other exciting features that are currently in development and these will be added to the site as soon as possible.

S

Stop

Stop whatever you are doing and focus on this.

T

Take Deep Breaths

Follow the instructions on screen or if you have sound follow the spoken instructions.
Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.

O

Observe

Observe your body, your thoughts, your feeling and your emotions. Is your heart racing? Are you sweating? Is your mouth dry? Are you angry? Are you worried? Are you stressed?
Do you need to be reacting the way you are?
How important is the issue you are stressed about?
Is this worth you being stressed over? Will it still be important this time next year?
What advice would you give to a friend if they were in your position?

Now take a moment and relax yourself.

P

Proceed

Now continue on with your day, incorporating what you have just learned about the emotions you were feeling.