Benefits of Remote Work on Employee Health, Happiness, and Productivity
Remote work and telecommuting have slowly creeped into our lives since the advent of the internet. Now, more than ever, remote work has become a way of life. A mere year ago we were waking up early, piling into public transportation to crowded offices and cubicles. Now in 2020, remote work has become the norm due to a global pandemic. While many lament the fact that this has interrupted traditional workflows, there are those who are able to see the glass half full. People started to talk about immense benefits to employee health, happiness, and productivity that accompany this style of work. Of course, for new remote workers, it can be hard to really feel all of those benefits due to external circumstances that come along with a pandemic. However, let’s look at some numbers and take a deep dive into how remote work can benefit our lives.
Employee Happiness + Satisfaction
In the most simple terms, remote employees are happier employees. I don’t know about you, but saving hours of time stuck in traffic, saving thousands of dollars on fast food lunches, and working next to my dog makes for a more enjoyable work experience. Don’t take my word for it. In an Owl Labs study, full-time remote workers said they’re happy in their job 22% more than people never working remotely. Additionally, according to another study, 97% of full time remote employees would recommend remote work to others. But why are remote workers so much happier?
One of the most common reasons remote workers give for their satisfaction is that they don’t have to commute. According to Census Bureau data, the average commute time to work across US metro areas was 117.7 minutes per week in 2018. Over the course of a month, that’s almost a full day of work that’s available to spend time with the family, try a new hobby, or just relax.
Remote workers also mention flexible schedule, flexible work locations, and better work-life balance as contributors to their overall job satisfaction. In a Flexjobs survey, 79% of employees said they would be more loyal to a business that offered more flexibility. As it turns out, the job itself is only part of the happiness equation. The other part is about how the job fits into someone’s life. Remote workers can leverage the extra time afforded by remote work to pursue things that make them happy outside of work. Always dreamed of learning an instrument, speaking a new language, getting shredded arms, or taking online classes to turn a hobby into a side-hustle? With remote work all of those things are exponentially more possible.
Employee Health with Advantages of Remote Work
Working remotely also has a myriad of health benefits for both the body and the mind. Considering we spend half of our waking lives at work, it’s important to make sure we are doing so in a healthy way. That means one that’s good for all aspects of our health. Everyone has different health needs, and remote work allows everyone to cater to their specific needs.
Often the most notable benefit of remote work is the reduction of stress and mental turmoil in daily life. Flexjobs found 97% of people say having a more flexible job would have a “huge” or “positive” impact on their quality of life. Staying out of office politics, not dealing with a stressful commute, and feeling comfortable in your own space all contribute to improved mental health.
Additionally, physical health is often improved through remote work. Remember that extra free time we talked about earlier? Well, apparently remote workers are using that extra time to exercise. According to researchers, remote employees spent two hours and 44 minutes on physical exercise each week, marking a 25-minute increase over office workers.
We also have to look at how remote work keeps people healthy during pandemics and even flu season. According to a study by CartridgePeople.com, remote workers take less sick days than traditional office employees. This makes a lot of sense considering the lack of exposure to potentially sick coworkers and passengers on public transportation. Remote work prevents someone feeling a bit under the weather from spreading a cold around the office and causing massive work delays.
How else can people leverage remote work to stay healthier? Start with getting up for a walk, having a stretch, or doing a quick yoga session during a work break. If you don’t already have an ergonomic office setup, invest in one. Know that your back and neck will thank you later. You can also prepare healthy homemade lunches and snacks to avoid the pitfalls of fast food meals and emergency eating. Remote work gives us all more options to pursue the things that we need to do to maintain good health.
Employee Productivity and Effectiveness
Finally, remote employees are not only happier and healthier, they are actually more productive! 65% of workers report that they feel more productive when not in the office. Additionally, 85% of businesses have reported that they have been more productive since going remote. These numbers make sense when considering the lack of office distractions or daily commute, and the quiet home office atmosphere.
Interesting enough, according to one study, remote employees actually work 1.4 more days per month than their office-based counterparts. That results in more than three additional weeks of work per year. Feel free to read that last sentence again to let it sink in.
One of the other advantages of remote work is that oftentimes there’s more asynchronous communication. Some view this as an initial challenge, or something to overcome. However, it’s actually quite effective in helping people to take back control of their time and increase their productivity. Employees are less likely to be interrupted by a meeting every 30 minutes. They can access a “flow state” at work and reply to emails and messages when they have time.
Apps and services like Voodle have been popping up to help remote teams communicate asynchronously without skipping a beat. Voodle lets teams record and share short video messages to help replace the endless hours of meetings – or video meetings. Services like Voodle help to achieve all communication needs while increasing the productivity of remote teams.
Benefits of Remote Work: The Remote Future
The lesson here for leaders is clear. Increased flexibility and less rigid restrictions contribute to employee satisfaction, overall health, and productivity. Remote work studies are being published at a record rate. Almost all of them are pointing to an improved working experience.
Remote work is slowly creeping into our lives and before long—it will be the default option for doing work. When this pandemic finally ends, and offices reopen, companies may be forced to justify why they are returning. In returning to the office, they’re also returning to the commute, to the expensive lunches, to the increased risk for illness. Why not simply staying remote? The preferred answer has cleared emerged.
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