The reason for the low attendance at the regular morning meeting is clear. Even the team leader has a red nose, puffy eyes, and a persistent sniffle. The last gasp of the cold and flu season has wound its way around the office floor. Those that are present at the morning meeting look like they’ve either just won or begun their battle with the virus.
But for those attending the meeting by video conference, however, the only effects of the rampant seasonal bug are the repeated interruptions from sneezes–and an increased workload due to the temporary decline in colleagues.
The health benefits of working from home are an underappreciated advantage for the telecommuter. Putting physical distance between yourself and the crowded office floor is a deterrent to catching the dread flu–and there are other healthy perks as well.
Telecommuting may be good for you in more ways than one.
The Health Benefits of Working from Home
- Less Stress
- A Healthier Lifestyle
- Working from a Healthier Environment
1. Less Stress
For all its promise of professional efficiency and distance-crushing technology, if we’re truthful, most of us consider the real perk to telecommuting, especially from home, to be a better work/life balance. There’s no commute to eat up your day, no office politics, and no late nights that keep you from family. That vision may not be entirely true–working from home means you’re rarely away from the office–but there’s strong evidence to suggest that working from home is less stressful than the in-office alternative.
Reducing stress is one of the most positive actions you can take to improve your wellbeing.
A recent survey by web conferencing company PGi found that 82% of telecommuters reported lower stress levels and 80% had higher morale than their in-house peers. Those numbers are supported by a Boston College study of 19,000 people that found that those who worked under flexible conditions, including regular telecommuting, enjoyed better overall health, better mental health, and lower levels of stress.
The chief reasons for this reduction in stress are thought to be the elimination of the daily commute and its related frustrations, less exposure to interpersonal aggravations and disputes, and more sleep due to more condensed working hours. Whatever the cause, it’s clear that reducing stress is a hugely important benefit. Most of us have heard of the dangers stress can pose to our physical health. It’s been linked to everything from depression to heart attack, and, of course, increased vulnerability to the common cold. Reducing stress, therefore, is one of the most positive actions you can take to improve your wellbeing.
So, working from home provides a digital barrier to the physical spread of disease, and it reduces the underlying stress that can cause serious illness.
But wait, there’s more.
2. A Healthier Lifestyle
Aside from those indirect health benefits, telecommuting can actively encourage employees to take up healthier lifestyle choices. Diet, for example, is one area of a person’s life that is likely to improve by staying closer to home. The average employee, for example, consumes more calories by having lunch at their desk than by venturing out of the office, and the average desk contains 476 calories’ worth of snacks. That’s a real temptation as 65% of employees eat lunch at their desks.
Telecommuting also generates extra time in an employee’s day that can be spent on healthier activities.
Working from home also reverses the fast food incentive and reduces its convenient appeal. Workers are less likely to be tempted by fast food burgers if they have a working kitchen at their disposal and perhaps a bowl of fruit sitting on the family dining table.
Telecommuting also generates extra time in an employee’s day that can be spent on healthier activities. Research has found that the average New Yorker could save 343 hours annually by removing their daily commute to work. That’s more than two whole weeks of additional walking, jogging, or just general physical activity a year, with no change in overall hours worked.
Perhaps one of the biggest health benefits of working from home is the ability to avoid living in congested, polluted cities like New York at all.
3. Working from a Healthier Environment
As VC Daily has previously discussed, remote work has the unique potential to let employees choose where they want to live based on lifestyle, climate, health, and family factors. With telecommuting, the internet is the job site, and the internet is just about everywhere. The jobs available online aren’t as limited as you might think, either–the most common telecommuting jobs are popular professions like accountant, nurse, teacher, and software developer.
If the smog of a big city, the cold climate of a northern state, or limited medical facilities of a rural area are detrimental to the way an employee lives their life, telecommuting lets them escape to a healthier way of living.
There are many benefits of telecommuting–it saves time and money, it’s great for the environment, and it opens up employment and collaboration opportunities–but the most important may be the positive effect it can have on individual health.