Thursday, June 02, 2011

The Health Benefits of Working From Home

We're on Day 2 of absolutely no power at the office, which means another day of telework.

Not that I'm complaining. My home office (aka my bed) and my home work wardrobe (track shorts and a t-shirt) are much more comfortable than my desk and normal business attire.

But besides comfort, having the flexibility to work from home a few days each week makes a huge impact on the state of my health.

On days I work from home:

  • I get at least an extra hour of sleep that would normally be spent doing my morning routine and commuting to work.
  • I can be flexible with my workouts. I can do them first thing in the morning, or whenever I need a break from the computer. No one's going to be offended if I go for a run and come back to answer some email before hopping in the shower.
  • I can put together healthier meals. It can be really hard to transport a healthy breakfast or lunch to the office every day, but when I work from home I have much more freedom when it comes to food. Like this morning, I had the time to whip up some scrambled eggs and toast. On a normal work day, I'm either schlepping cereal or a yogurt into the office for breakfast.
  • I don't have the stress of a commute. Everyone knows traffic in the D.C.-area is hellacious during rush hour and sitting in traffic or getting stuck on the Metro is just plain stressful.

I know I'm really lucky that the place I work offers telework as an option, and I'm actually kind of surprised more places don't do the same. We live in a digital world where we communicate through email, text message and tweets more than we do in face-to-face interactions. I'm not saying that's a good or bad thing, I'm just saying that's reality, and I would think more companies would take advantage of that to give their employees a little more flexibility and freedom.

I know not every job can do this, but for your average office worker, who sits at a computer for 8 hours a day, does it really matter if they're sitting at that computer at home or in an office somewhere?

Teleworking, even just a day or two a week, cuts down on stress and in general makes people happier and healthier. I think the last time I took a sick day was nearly two years ago (knock on wood).

I'd argue that healthy, happy employees are more productive, have a more positive outlook and will be more likely to stick with a company that treats them well than look for a job elsewhere.

Does your company offer the ability to telework? If not, have you ever thought about asking your boss if you could try teleworking once a week for a month to see how it goes? Their answer might surprise you.

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