This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.
When COVID-19 forced companies all over the world to send their employees home to work virtually, remote work had a big moment.
Yes, the rush to give employees access to all the tools they’d need to work from home was a bit, well, sudden for many employers. But after everyone settled in, what quickly became apparent to many office-based teams is that employees could be productive and focused when not in the office — in many cases, even more so. Employers everywhere began to understand that remote work really works.
What will the future of remote work look like in a post-pandemic world? Will companies go back to “business as usual” and require that everyone work onsite, or is the pandemic the tipping point that finally convinces employers that flexible work is the way to go for the long haul?
Whether you’re on the hunt for a remote job or are already working virtually, check out this list of the best benefits of working from home.
1. Better Work-Life Balance
Many remote jobs also come with flexible schedules, which means that workers can start and end their day as they choose, as long as their work is complete and leads to strong outcomes. This control over your work schedule can be invaluable when it comes to attending to the needs of your personal life.
Whether it’s balancing school schedules, medical appointments and errands, attending an online fitness class in the morning or even being home for a contractor, it can all be done a little more easily when you work from home.
2. Less Commute Stress
The average one-way commuting time in the U.S. is 27.1 minutes—that’s nearly an hour each day spent getting to and from work, and it really adds up. According to the Auto Insurance Center, commuters spend about 100 hours commuting and 41 hours stuck in traffic each year. Some “extreme” commuters face much longer commute times of 90 minutes or more each way.
But wasting time commuting is just one of the downsides of getting to and from work. More than 30 minutes of daily one-way commuting is associated with increased levels of stress and anxiety, and research shows that commuting 10 miles to work each day is associated with health issues like:
- Higher cholesterol
- Elevated blood sugar
- Increased risk of depression
Ditching the commute helps you support your mental and physical health. The time savings can allow you to focus on priorities outside of work, like getting extra sleep in the morning, spending more time with family, getting in a workout or eating a healthy breakfast.
3. Location Independence
One of the considerable benefits of working from home is having access to a broader range of job opportunities that aren’t limited by geographic location. This can be especially helpful for job seekers living in rural communities and small towns where there may not be many available local positions.
Having no set job location means that, pre-pandemic, fully remote workers could also travel and live as digital nomads while still having a meaningful career. Right now, this type of working arrangement is likely to be difficult due to travel and quarantine restrictions. But it’s a definite perk as things begin to open up again.
People who have to move frequently, such as military spouses, can also benefit from having a remote job that can be done from anywhere, without having to start over at the bottom of a new company with each move.
In addition, remote work is a great way to avoid high-rent and high-mortgage areas, especially for positions (like tech) that used to require living in a city with a high cost of living. With remote work, you no longer have to live near a major metropolitan area to have a career you love.
4. Improved Inclusivity
Remote work enables companies to embrace diversity and inclusion by hiring people from different socioeconomic, geographic and cultural backgrounds and with different perspectives — which can be challenging to accomplish when recruiting is restricted to a certain specific locale that not everyone wants, or can afford, to live near.
And by hiring employees who can work from home in the communities where they feel the most comfortable and supported, wherever that may be, companies choose to support diversity, community and family.
Remote work also gives people who may have a hard time finding steady employment at an on-site job, like those with disabilities or caregivers who need a flexible schedule, the opportunity to follow their career goals without having to worry about commuting back and forth to an office, and with the flexibility to get to doctor’s and other healthcare appointments when needed.
5. Money Savings
People who work from home half time can save between $2,000 to $6,500 a year. Gas, car maintenance, transportation, parking fees, a professional wardrobe, lunches bought out, and more can all be reduced or eliminated from your spending entirely. These savings add up and put more money back into your pocket.
And the savings aren’t just for employees, either. As more and more companies allow employees to continue working from home post-pandemic — like Twitter, Square, Shopify, and Facebook, to name just a few—they’ll also see significant long-term cost savings.
According to Global Workplace Analytics, a typical company can save around $11,000 per year for every employee who works from home at least some of the time. In fact, FlexJobs has saved more than $5 million from remote work on things like:
- Real estate costs
- Transit subsidies
- Continuity of operations
During the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. employers are saving over $30 billion per day by allowing employees to work from home. This major economic benefit of remote work could continue as more companies make it a long-term solution.
6. Positive Environmental Impact
The 3.9 million employees who work from home at least half time reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of taking more than 600,000 cars off the road for an entire year, according to the “State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Employee Workforce” report. A whopping 7.8 billion vehicle miles aren’t traveled each year for those who work at least part-time from home, 3 million tons of greenhouse gases are avoided, and oil savings reach $980 million.
And by making environmentally sound choices — like opting to use less paper and monitoring their air conditioning, heating, and lighting — remote workers have the same potential impact on air quality as planting an entire forest of 91 million trees.
7. Impact on Sustainability
Remote work supports a variety of sustainability initiatives, from economic growth and reduced inequalities, to sustainable cities, climate change, and responsible consumption.
One of the fastest, cheapest ways for employers and employees to reduce their carbon footprint and to affect climate change is by reducing commuter travel. In fact, the world is already seeing markedly reduced pollution, congestion, and traffic during the pandemic response, and being able to experience the results firsthand may be a driver of remote work for everyone involved.
8. A Customizable Office
Being able to create a comfortable home office is an excellent benefit of remote work. Whether you simply want a more ergonomic chair, or you have health issues that lead to needing specialized office equipment, you can set up your home office and make it whatever you want.
9. Increased Productivity and Performance
FlexJobs’ annual survey in 2019 found that 65% of professionals think they would be more productive working remotely than in a traditional office, with 49% saying they go to their home or home office when they really need to buckle down and get work done.
Working from home usually leads to fewer interruptions, less office politics, a quieter noise level, and fewer — or more efficient — meetings. Add in the lack of a commute, remote workers typically have more time and fewer distractions, which leads to increased productivity — a huge benefit of working from home for both employees and employers alike.
When done right, remote work allows employees and companies to focus on what really matters — performance. Unfortunately, the office environment can create “false positives” that can lead to bias and favoritism. After all, coming in early and leaving late may “look” like more work, but actual performance is a much better indicator of productivity.
Gallup reported that 60% of U.S. workers who have been working from home during the pandemic would prefer to work remotely as much as possible in the future.
10. A Happier, Healthier Work Life
Remote, flexible workers tend to be happier and more loyal employees, in part because working from home has been shown to lower stress, provide more time for hobbies and interests, and improve personal relationships, among other things.
In addition to personal health and well-being, coworker and manager relationships can be more positive without the distractions and politics that come along with an in-office job. A reported 72% of employers say remote work has a high impact on employee retention — plainly put, employees are sticking with their employer when they have remote work options.
Working from home can also lead to better health in a variety of ways: more time for physical activity, the ability to eat healthier, the ability to recover from illness or surgery at home, less exposure to illnesses, ease of caring for a health issue or disability, and the option to create a comfortable and ergonomic workspace.
Though the pandemic may have been the catalyst for remote work for many millions of employees around the world, it’s far from the only reason to work from home. Indeed, the benefits of working working from home impact so many things on a global scale that it’s sure to become the best path forward.
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