Working from Bed—Is It Really All That Bad?

Working from Bed—Is It Really All That Bad?

Now that we’ve settled into our “new normal” routines—which, for many of us, includes working from home—the question of where to work has given us a lot to contemplate. Is the dining room the new home office? Does the couch suffice for Zoom meetings with your boss? And, perhaps the most weighty WFH question of all: is working from bed really as bad as all those experts say?

Take one lap around Google and 90% of articles will tell you, “YES!!! BIG RESOUNDING YES!” But why? Why can’t we work where we sleep? After all, our bedrooms are arguably the most tranquil, comfortable parts of our homes.

As a freelance writer who’s worked from home for years, I can confidently tell you that my bed is where I tend to gravitate to. So… why is that considered so taboo?

Lack of boundaries

“Unless you are careful to maintain boundaries, you may start to feel like you’re always at work and losing a place to come home to,” says author Ned Hallowell in the Harvard Business Review Guide to Being More Productive. The easiest way to create the boundary between work life and personal life? Create a separate workspace in your house, one that doesn’t tempt you into being unproductive.

I have to say, I agree with this one. I do often find myself closing my laptop to lounge for a bit when I work from bed. I like to snuggle up with my dogs and take breaks when I’m not feeling enough inspiration, which, in a regular 9-5 setting, I see how that can be bad.

Ruins your posture

“Reclining on a bed as you curve over a laptop could bring on back pain,” says Dr. Sophie Bostock to the Daily Mail. This makes sense, as the proper sitting posture is to sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor, knees aligned with hips, and hips far back in the chair, all whilst sitting up straight and keeping your chest open (a.k.a. not hunching). It turns out…. you can’t do that in bed.

However, you can do a little adjusting to make your bed work with your body instead of against it. Let’s say you’re bedridden, or you refuse to not work from bed, but your posture is indeed suffering. Getting a support pillow to put under your knees while working from bed will make a difference by taking pressure off your hips. You can also make sure to sit straight up and invest in an adjustable lap desk to keep from hunching.

Messes with your sleep

A lot of articles out there will back this up by saying that working from bed right before you go to sleep will wreak havoc on your night, and that’s true. But what about working normal hours? Apparently, it’s not all that great for snooze time either. “If you sit on the bed all day, your body starts associating wake hours with the bed, instead of sleeping hours,” says the Times of India. Sigh.

A lot of experts don’t actually point to working directly from bed as the cause of a wonky sleep pattern. Instead, they blame working from home in general. “It can be hard enough to switch off from work as it is, but at least with a commute, there is the physical separation from your work computer and home,” says Dr. Anna Persaud to Bustle. So, yeah, back to the lack of boundaries argument. Working from home tends to make us think that sending an email at 10 p.m. is normal, or sending your coworkers a slack at 2 a.m. is fine. And, according to Dr. Persaud, this type of insidious thinking can “potentially lead to an increase in our Cortisol levels — the stress hormone — which acts as a suppressor to Melatonin — the sleep hormone — making it hard to fall asleep.”

My experience

The most interesting thing I’ve found is that working from bed doesn’t actually make you lazy. In fact it, in essence, ruins your work-life balance. If anything, working from bed makes us workaholics, it makes us incapable of turning off. When we remove our physical work-life and home-life boundaries, everything becomes mixed together as though it were a cocktail. We feel more comfortable responding to an email in bed at 10 p.m. because we’ve trained ourselves to think, hey, this is my workspace! This is how I behave here!

Will I change my ways?

Has this inspired me to change where I work? To my surprise, it has. I don’t want to be on Slack or making an edit or answering an email after hours, and more importantly, I don’t need to be. None of us should. So yeah, working from bed is bad, just not in the ways we all may think.