Whether you were able to work from home full-time or you had a hybrid work schedule due to the pandemic, you know that the workplace has officially evolved. Though some people enjoy commuting to the office, there are equally – if not more – people that don’t. Almost every worker across every industry around the globe has seen waves of systemic change with generational ripple effects in our workplace, home lives, and almost everything in between.
Now, studies are being conducted by psychologists, academics, and business leaders regarding the health benefits of telecommuting and how it benefits both employees and employers, for now and in the long run. That’s why it’s important that we break down the many health benefits of telecommuting for your mental, emotional, physical, and financial health as well as reveal what actual experts are saying about this new era of the Digital Age.
Assuming a one-size-fits-all approach to the workplace left many uncertain about how to balance their lives when the pandemic upended their daily structure and routine. Fortunately, remote work was an option that kept many safe during a public health crisis and allowed them to reclaim time with their loved ones. Research from University of Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom found that employees who work remotely work “true” full shifts per day due to less time stressing over getting ready, commuting, or being late due to traffic – not to mention taking shorter breaks, fewer sick days, and less time off.
The mental health benefits of telecommuting include significant reduction of stress and improvement in productivity by removing workplace distractions throughout the workweek, eliminating unnecessary interruptions, bypassing office politics, and a more focused work environment. All of these benefits support the employer as well by removing micromanagement that often leads to employee turnover, workplace drama, and less concentration on improving staff performance and results.
The past two years have been an emotional rollercoaster with family, friends, and colleagues experiencing different aspects of the pandemic, creating a collective sense of anxiety, panic, stress, and feelings of loss and grief for the people and time lost to the pandemic. The emotional benefits of telecommuting come from being able to control certain aspects of your surroundings and yourself by taking the time you need for mental and physical breaks from your screens without feeling you aren’t doing enough. Because your home is typically your place of rest and where you spend quality time with loved ones, the positive association can help you regulate your emotions in a safe space and on your own time. You can also create a comfortable, inviting, and focused space with limited interruptions or changes to your environment.
Employers can work within similar parameters by being more focused on the performance of staff and results in student engagement rather than in-office politics and physical space demands. It also helps leadership connect more effectively with employees by learning how departments and teams work together and adapt under different circumstances, which helps employers become more resilient to changes in higher education and other industries.
When it comes to the daily commute, studies have shown that sitting for longer periods of time before and after an already sedentary day in the workplace increases your risk of cardiovascular and metabolic issues. And when your physical health is negatively impacted, so is your ability to work to the best of your ability, or sometimes even at all. Studies from even before the stress of the pandemic showed the detrimental effects of what traditional commuting can do to someone’s health, including more common instances of higher levels in blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and anxiety.
Employers can also rest easy knowing that remote teams take less sick time as they are already safe at home, away from the potential to spread illness and stay healthier due to the lack of constant physical contact with other workers that may have come to work regardless of how they felt. This also translates to increased productivity and job satisfaction reducing turnover rates which can save them thousands in hours and money in the long run.
Though not often a topic in the discussion in favor of telecommuting, the reality is that the benefit to your financial wellness is a major factor in why employees prefer telecommuting. With record numbers of inflation and severe climate changes hitting the state of California in the last few years, telecommuting has been a way for employees to save money on things like gas, transportation costs, and reduce their environmental impact.
For employers, telecommuting is an adjustment but has major benefits like saving money on additional space for employees, usage of in-office utilities, and preparing for any potential financial and fundamental workplace disruptions in the future.
Clearly, the health benefits of telecommuting far outweigh the skepticism of whether it works for both University employees and employers. Telework is not here to eliminate the notion of in-person collaboration – similar to how ecommerce didn’t end in-person retail stores. There will always be room for a variety of different workspaces; however, the health benefits, productivity, and other emerging possibilities with telecommuting work are an important discussion every employee and employer should be having and implementing today.