Working remotely, or "telecommuting," is more common than ever before. Although companies have quickly adopted work from home (WFH) systems out of necessity, these policies are often beneficial even if they're not mandatory.
Not only can remote work policies benefit companies financially, but studies have also shown they result in boosted employee productivity. One study found 75% of survey respondents said remote work helped them reduce stress and improve work efficiency by reducing distractions during the day.
Although working from home has its own set of distractions, there are plenty of science-backed benefits of a remote work lifestyle that shouldn't be ignored.
The lack of a commute and the absence of office environment stressors can be extremely positive for employees' mental well-being.
Now that remote work is the norm for many people, we wanted to highlight the data-backed ways that working from home can actually benefit your mental well-being. Our tips below point out how to capitalize on the positive aspects of working remotely.
1) No more stressful commute or sitting in traffic
Studies show a direct link between long commutes and decreased life satisfaction. On the other hand, saving time that would otherwise be spent on a stress-inducing commute allows employees to create a better work-life balance. Additionally, long commutes are proven to be a public health risk over time. Stress results from sitting in traffic every day, and long-term exposure to vehicle exhaust is associated with respiratory problems. It's no surprise that regaining the time that would have been spent commuting positively affects employees. In fact, positions that offer the option to work from home report 25 percent lower turnover rates compared to roles that don't provide this opportunity.
2) Ability to design your preferred work set-up
The ability to customize your own workstation for optimal productivity is proven to increase motivation, innovation and happiness. Most likely, there are limitations to how much you can tailor your workstation to your liking in your office space. As much as companies might try to accommodate employees, it's difficult to cater to every individual's needs.
When you work from home, you have full control over your desk position, organization and chair. You can even create a standing desk arrangement. Additionally, you may have more room to personalize your surroundings with plants, photos and/or artwork.
3) Less noise and more control over temperature
Studies show that employees are 5–15% more productive when working in a comfortable environment. When you can't control the thermostat or the incessant voices of loud coworkers, it's natural to feel frustrated or less productive.
Research also shows that as temperature rises, productivity declines, but it's key to note that not everyone experiences temperature the same way. If you're in an office of people with various ages and physicalities, it's difficult to please everyone. Thankfully, working from home gives you the chance to create conditions that work best for you.
4) Room to create your ideal lighting and color scheme
Harsh fluorescents can unknowingly trigger stress reactions and nervous system dysregulation, and even surrounding colors can impact job performance. The average American spends more than 90 percent of their time indoors, so providing the optimal amount of natural daylight is crucial. Natural light supports the regulation of Vitamin D and serotonin which are proven mood boosters.
Although companies might try to improve office lighting and decor, it's rarely a priority. These businesses that don't prioritize their office spaces unknowingly contribute to decreasing their employees' health and performance over time.
5) Increased focus at your private workstation
Working remotely gives employees the chance to eradicate typical office distractions that reduce productivity. Private at-home workstations make it easier to be self-disciplined and stick to productivity methods like the Pomodoro Technique or time blocking. Responding to in-person requests from coworkers in real-time can kill productivity.
Meanwhile, working from home allows workers the uninterrupted privacy to complete tasks and accomplish goals. As a remote worker, you control when you receive notifications and when it's worth answering right away. Even when there are family members, roommates or neighbors involved, there are usually fewer distractions when you have a private work set-up at home.
6) More time with loved ones
Working from home allows workers to use their time saved from skipping their commutes to be more present in their family lives. The average American family only spends thirty-seven minutes together per day. It makes sense when you consider parents commuting, kids' extracurriculars and the inconvenience of scheduling issues. In fact, people who spend ample time with family and friends tend to find healthier ways to cope with stress. Employees can also benefit from the emotional support provided by social ties, which improves your psychological well-being.
7) More flexibility for a midday workout
It's no secret that breaking a sweat can help you boost your mood. Instead of a traditional lunch break, you can use your midday break to exercise and choose to have a working lunch afterward. This can help combat work stress with endorphin-releasing exercises that spark feelings of euphoria and general well-being.
Just 30 minutes of basic exercise is enough to improve cognitive function and increase focus. Endorphins can give you the pick-me-up you need to get through the rest of the afternoon. Plus, when you're a remote worker, it's a lot easier to quickly refresh at home after a sweaty workout.
8) Ability to take a power nap
A short nap in the middle of the day might be exactly what you need to beat the dreaded afternoon slump. Research shows that we're biologically designed to take naps in the afternoon due to a natural part of human circadian rhythms, but unfortunately office spaces aren't conducive to napping.
When working from home, you can easily recharge by taking a quick nap rather than solely relying on caffeine. If you're worried about how long your nap should be, take a hint from NASA. Astronauts calculated that a 26-minute midday nap allows you to wake up re-energized instead of groggy.
Check out our visual guide to the advantages of remote work that will remind you that WFH can give you a boost in your overall wellness and career.
Working from home has its own challenges, but there are still science-backed benefits to working from home or working remotely that shouldn't be ignored. As long as you set reasonable boundaries to attain work-life balance, working where you live can be optimal for productivity.
The reminders in this guide prove the perks that employees can use to help them thrive in remote settings. There are even advantages of having a fully remote job search, such as not having to deal with the hassle of traveling to the interview. Are you considering searching for a remote job? Be sure to check out our suite of career resources to help guide you during this uncertain time of the pandemic.
Recode | World Leisure Journal | Harvard Business Review | Science Direct | Journal of Sustainable Development | Journal of Environmental Psychology | StudyFinds | PubMed | European Sleep Research Society | EmailAnalytics | Medwin Publishers | ThoughtCo. | PR Newswire | Piedmont Health | Psychology Today | Mental Health America | Interesting Engineering | CNN Health | Cornell University | PGi