If there’s been any doubt about the effect that working from home has on remote employees, a growing body of evidence highlights one upbeat piece of news: working from home makes people happier. A number of studies, along with anecdotal accounts, document the great benefits of telecommuting, not only for workers, but for companies too.
Why should employers care about worker happiness? There are definite financial benefits to telecommuting, including positive outcomes for a company’s bottom line and reported upticks in worker productivity. A closer examination of how working from home makes people happier shows that remote employees enjoy quite a few benefits that help them achieve better work-life integration and lower their overall work-related stress levels.
Consider these reasons why working from home makes people happier:
Telecommuting helps employees cut, or completely eliminate, transportation costs like gas, car maintenance, and public transportation–a huge savings right off the bat. Moreover, working remotely can save money for employees by drastically cutting back on the costs associated with dressing for an office or traditional work environment (including dry cleaning), and doing away with the cost of eating out for lunch or heading to the coffee shop. Savings for employees ranged from $1,600 to $9,500 a year, depending on job, pay level, and other factors.
Decreases Work-Related Stress
According to several studies, remote workers reported that they had cut their stress in half by working from home. In fact, a Baseline magazine look at telecommuting reported that 82 percent of telecommuters said their overall stress level was lower, while 80 percent reported higher morale because they worked remotely.
Helps Work-Life Integration
As highlighted in Caroline Beaton‘s infographic (also shown below) a survey by Staples Inc., 86 percent of those surveyed said they were better able to balance career and personal priorities when they worked from home. And a study by Telework Research Network included in the infographic concluded that four out of five workers determined that telecommuting offered better work-life options, helping them cope with family issues, as well as career-related matters.
Offers Opportunities for Better Health
Another interesting point included in the infographic shared that more than 61 percent of respondents believe their job has caused them illness. That’s in stark contrast to reports from telecommuters who say working from home gives them greater ability to be physically active in their daily lives. Being able to control their work environment–setting their preferred temperature, getting natural light by sitting near a window, or even working outside or taking outdoor breaks–makes it easier to stay healthy when working from home.
Increases Focus–and Productivity
This finding popped up in a number of stories: over and over, telecommuters said they were better able to focus on work-related tasks, and consequently got more done when working from home. A study by the Stanford School of Business found that a majority of at-home workers reported taking fewer sick days and shorter breaks from their home-based offices.
Allows Freedom to Move Around
Some 70 percent of all workers would prefer to work from home, if offered the opportunity. One reason: a job that doesn’t require the employee to be tethered to a specific geographic location can offer much greater freedom to move to another city, or even another country, accommodating personal preference or family concerns, like the career demands of a spouse.
Digesting these stats from the worker’s viewpoint offers great perspective on how working from home makes people happier. For employers considering a remote workplace, it may be a good idea to add employee happiness to the mix as you make decisions about flexible work options going forward.