The Positive Effects of Remote Work
Work flexibility, including remote work, has such a positive impact on mental health that almost every individual surveyed out of 3,000 people recently said that having a more flexible job would hugely benefit their quality of life.
The two main benefits to having a flexible job are a healthier work and life balance and lack of stress relating to daily commuting.
For professionals with or without existing mental health concerns, flexible work opportunities are necessary to improve the mental health of our peers and our workplace.
Of course, with COVID emerging in late 2019 remote work suddenly became more than just a nice luxury, for many employees it became a compulsory way of working with one of the added benefits that everyone got to enjoy the positive effects of remote work if even for a short time.
And for many industries such as the call centre industry, most employers have indicated that even once the pandemic has subsided, they will not be returning to having a full-time workforce working onsite with remote work now here to stay.
Here is just an overview of all the incredible ways that remote work can have a positive benefit on mental health.
7 Positive Effects of Remote Work for your Mental Health
1. Lower Stress Levels
No matter how much someone enjoys their regular work responsibilities, the commute to and from work takes a big toll on people’s mental health.
In the United States, the average commute time is nearly 27 full minutes each direction – that’s almost a full hour a day of commuting whether in a private vehicle or public transportation.
In Australia, particularly in larger cities like Melbourne and Sydney, it’s even worse.
In research by global mobility app Moovit, Melbourne has the longest average commute time of 47 minutes followed by Sydney (46 minutes) and Brisbane (44 minutes).
Many people who are interested in remote work arrangements usually cite reducing commute related stress as one of their main drivers for moving to a work from home model.
Remote work also reduces stress by improving productivity, meaning that people aren’t constantly stressed about meeting important deadlines.
Productivity is increased during remote work arrangements because there are fewer distractions at home than in the office during the workday, little to no interruptions from colleagues, removal of the employee from any office politics, which are a big contributor to workplace stress levels, and providing them with a more quiet, comfortable, and personalized work environment.
Different studies that have been done show that flexible work arrangements have lowered the rate of burnout from employees and stress levels have gone down.
At the same time, job satisfaction increased when there are fewer psychological stresses on the individual.
2. Increased Job Options in Rural Areas
“Remote work has huge benefits in reducing mental health issues in rural places or areas that typically struggle economically. In fact, people that live in these areas already find that sometimes they’re missing a key human interaction, which is that of engaging in a workforce in a long-term commitment and giving a meaningful contribution,” says Amanda Olive, an HR analyst at Australian Help.
Long-term unemployment or seeing the decline of a big industry can all have negative impacts on mental health, which is why there are often higher rates of depression or anxiety in rural regions, specifically in older adults who have seen the effects of the economic decline in the community on their lives and that of those around them.
Because of these factors, the remote factor is a key piece of the puzzle in terms of reintegrating these communities into the workforce.
Companies and Governments are partnering with organizations aimed at economic development in rural areas to help residents of economically disadvantaged regions find remote work opportunities.
We’ve seen this particularly in the Australian call centre industry where a number of large Government contact centres have been relocated to rural areas along with some of the larger BPOs.
3. Expanding the Focus on Health and Wellness
There’s a shift in companies’ perception of health and wellness in the workplace.
They’re acknowledging that working professionals put a lot of their time, focus, and energy into their work every day, and companies know that providing flexible work options would help their employees be healthier and more productive.
“People also want a flexible job because they know it will give them more time to spend on their hobbies and families. There is a never-ending pull between the work and life poles and this can put a lot of stress on people’s mental health. Allowing for remote work and other flexible work options provides employees that much needed relief that both of their priorities can work side by side without conflict,” explains Gillian Adams, a business writer at DoMyHomework.club.
Not only does this benefit the employees who feel healthier, but companies also benefit by having higher employee engagement and a more positive workplace culture.
When companies give their employees better control over their working hours, working location, and working style via flexible work options, the company’s image, culture, and productivity are all increased along with those employees’ health and wellness.
4. Reduced Pollutants
By avoiding a long commute into work, you’re also avoiding packed public transportation and roads; therefore keeping your body well away from damaging toxins like exhaust fumes.
On a larger scale, a reduced amount of commuters would also lead to lower vehicle emissions.
This has the obvious benefit of leading to better air quality and a healthier environment which in the end benefits all of us.
With Governments across the globe pursuing lower emission targets the transition to a remote workforce will have a positive impact on the environment.
5. Increased Job Satisfaction
“There is a clear link between being autonomous at work and being satisfied with your job. When people feel like they’re in better control of their work lives, they feel less micromanaged, stay with their companies for longer than they might have and also have less stress in their lives,” says Hillary Plots, a blogger at Research Papers.
You can also have your priorities ordered right, meaning that you can spend more time at the gym, with your family, or doing that hobby you always wished you had more time for.
All of this builds up to create higher satisfaction in your life.
When you’re working from home, you can choose how much you work each day, how many hours you need to work on each project, and you can take breaks when you need them, which can change every day.
It’s much easier to be aware of your overall happiness and stress levels when you’re at home.
In fact, the freedom and autonomy that comes with working from home does so much to your mental health without you even realizing it.
Now you can focus on your work without your colleagues looking over your shoulder or your supervisor constantly asking for updates.
Of course, you still need to remain accountable to the company and to the management team, but now you can do your work in a way that suits you and structure your day accordingly.
You also no longer have to worry about catching a cold from your colleague who’s coughing, or have to bring a heavy sweater to fight the freezing cold temperatures in the office.
6. Better Child and Teenage Support
Another great benefit to improving your mental health by working from home is for parents who have worries about their children and their welfare.
It’s normal that you might still need childcare assistance if you work from home so you can focus on your job, but when you work from home there is less stress and pressure of bringing your young child to and from daycare at the right time.
It will also allow you to be at home in the morning when your kids leave for school and also be there when they return.
You can ask about their day, monitor their moods and be more present in their lives.
This means when you’re done with work, you’re less likely to be in a bad mood and project a negative attitude in the home.
7. Fewer Distractions
Another obvious benefit to working from home which was previously alluded to in this article is that you can control how much disruption there is around you.
When there are times that you’re working on a serious project or you have a deadline, instead of working from home you can go to a co-working space or library and focus on the work that needs doing.
When you’re in the office, you don’t have that flexibility because there are constant distractions, even from your boss giving you more work.
Working from home lets you be in the driver’s seat and control your workload from day to day, as long as it all gets done on time.
Also, if you’re the type of person that likes to sleep in and works better later in the evening, you can change your schedule around those hours, or start work bright and early if you’re an early riser and spend your afternoon doing other things.
For many people, working from home is a really good opportunity for both their careers and their mental health.
People that have existing mental health issues that are limiting their ability to work in a traditional workplace can now work remotely, and it’s an option available to everyone.
If you don’t currently have mental health issues but you want a better work-life balance, more flexibility, and reduced stress associated with long commutes and workplace politics, this is much more achievable with a remote work arrangement.
For companies, employees, and freelancers, working from home can be exactly what they need to live healthier and more productive lives.
- Read: 10 Methods for managing remote employees for success
- Read: The mental cost of call centre work
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