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Mental Health Benefits of Working Remotely

Search Remotely Mental Health Benefits

There are mental health benefits to working remotely. How did we get here? Back in early 2020, the thought of widespread full-time remote work was something few considered.

Flash forward to today. Just a few years later, an estimated 25% of U.S. employees work exclusively from home. An additional 20% work part-time at the office and part-time from home. In total, almost half of all U.S. workers work from home at least part of the time. Regarding the global workforce, Owl Labs reports that 52% of workers worldwide work from home at least one day per week. It is no wonder that more and more employees, if offered the option, would work remotely. Why? We’ve identified just a few of the reasons below.

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Working remotely promotes better work life balance

COVID-19 and government stay-at-home mandates are the reasons why companies adopted work from home policies. But employees have found that remote work offers a chance to balance home and work life. Further, research by Tavares found that working from home gives increased flexibility and autonomy, reduces the time spent commuting, increases worker productivity and promotes improved employee morale and job satisfaction (2017).

Prior to COVID-19, many workers did not realize how much of our discretionary free-time our jobs occupied. In addition to our time working, it included the time we spent commuting to and from our positions which alone can add a lot of stress and pressure to an already pressure-cooked job. Packing our lunches and arranging snacks and meals for our faimiles. Getting our work clothes ready and dressing the kids at the same time required superb time management when, if you’re not a morning person can introduce frustration, stress and anxiety. This is even before the work day officially begins.  Checking our messages, coordinating our work schedules, and other tasks revolving around our jobs required an exacting routine that had to be molded to fit the time tables of our superiors, subordinates and co-workers.

But working remotely might free up some of that time and evenly spread the daily pressures to points in time throughout our day. When individuals have more time to do things outside of work, it might add more purpose to their lives, give them a better appreciation of what they have, and even let them enjoy work more as well.

Because they have extra time, remote workers might have more:

  • Time to sleep and relax.
  • Chances to practice more hobbies.
  • Opportunities to spend time with their families.

With a better work-life balance, that time you once spent commuting can now be applied to tasks that can contribute to a more fulfilling life.

Allowing remote work promises improved employee productivity

While employees are happy to accept generous work from home policies, employers have been more hesitant. There is research, however that shows a small link between remote work and the achievement of company outcomes. For instance, Martin and MacDonnell, found that remote work increases employee retention and their commitment to the company (2012).

How can remote work impact people’s mental health? Is it negative or positive? A little of both? The details may surprise you.

Physical health benefits of working remotely

One recent study examined more than 1,000 people who worked remotely. The goal of the study was to understand the relationship between health and remote work.

According to the results, remote work positively affected mental and physical well-being. It also contributed to healthier practices:

  • 40% of the individuals reported improvements in their diets.
  • 44% of the respondents said they exercised routinely.

Mental health and physical health are closely related. When you exercise and feel good about your overall state of being, it positively affects your state of mind.

Remote environments don’t require people to spend stressful hours commuting and sitting in a cubicle all day. Instead, it can provide mental and physical health benefits.

Remote work may enhance occupational health

Research has shown than remote work can enhance occupational health. How so? Picture an institutionalized setting of stiff chairs and packed cubicles. Next, think about your own home. Where would you prefer to spend most of your time? Right. Remote workers think so too. Remote workers can work in a more aesthetically pleasing and relaxing environment. Further, they are not distracted by voices, phone buzzes, printer humming sounds made by their colleagues and others in the office.  These factors, to include shorter commutes point to better occupational health says Bailey and Kurland, 2002; Martin and MacDonnell, 2012. 

The psychological health of remote workers is enhanced as well. A study by Shimura and Yokoi compared the psychological and physical health of remote workers in comparison to workers who worked in a traditional office setting (2021). They found that remote work has the potential to decrease psychological and physical stress responses such as vigor, irritability, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and physical complaints.

Working from home can boost happiness

Working from home can help make you a happier person. A 2002 survey of remote Microsoft employees found that 56% of them were happier working from home compared to working at the office.

People working from home experienced considerably less stress and increased motivation levels. Money saved by not commuting, more access to comfortable work environments, and other factors contributed to these feelings.

Remote work arrangements also make it easier for people with disabilities and chronic health conditions to meet professional expectations. They don’t need to face the hassle of commuting and can create at-home workstations that suit their accessibility needs.

Working remotely can improve quality of life

Working remotely, having a flexible and reduce work schedule can have a positive impact of the quality of life. A FlexJobs study found that 97% of the study’s respondents felt that jobs with flexible schedules has a huge and/or positive impact on their quality of life.

Creating structure for remote work settings

Like other professional situations, remote working requires socialization and structure. Employees can feel as though they are working in isolation, so they may want to socialize by connecting with their coworkers and their loved ones.

In addition, if people are living and working in the same place, they may feel as if their workday never ends. They need processes and structures to unplug at the end of each day. Such tools can help them move from a work mindset to a personal one. Employers and employees can work to create this demarcation.

For many, working remotely isn’t in their future, it’s a current reality. The arrangement might create more free time and reduce stress levels. These benefits can ultimately improve a person’s mental health and overall quality of life.

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Adding vitality to rural, fly-over, and inner-city existence

The chance to obtain a remote job while working from home gives hope to job seekers living in rural, fly-over and inner-city areas. From the comfort of their own home, job seekers can now search for and work in remote jobs without regard to geographical location.  Research has shown that lack of long-term employment can cause high rates of depression and high anxiety. Remote work changes ones’ perspective, gives added vitality to a former area of economic destitution and decline. Search Remotely, an affiliate of FlexJobs is excited that the company is partnering with economic revitalization organizations in Utah, Kentucky and Colorado to help their residents find remote opportunities.

Sources – Statistics on Remote Workers That Will Surprise You (2022) – 60% of People Have Better Mental Health Working Remote – Recovery in a Quiet and Welcoming Environment – How has working from home affected our mental health?

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