The health benefits of working from home

From mental health perks to better sleep and time for the gym.

Office-based, nine-to-five roles are fast becoming redundant. At least, for some workers who crave the autonomy and flexibility offered by working from home. Thanks to the Internet and cloud computing, working from home is now a possibility for many employees and home entrepreneurs.

For those wanting to take the leap into a home office, there are several opportunities. Employers are becoming more open to flexi and fully remote work. Alternatively, you can develop a winning home business idea. You’ll be in good company, with the number of home workers rising by 241,000 in the past decade. Half the UK’s workforce is predicted to work from home by 2020.

Not only will your work/life balance thank your new work-style choice. Your body and mind will too. These are just some of the health benefits you can expect when working from home.

Reducing stress

Work-related stress and anxiety now accounts for over half of sick days taken by workers in the UK. It’s on the rise, with people working longer hours and the lines between work and play constantly blurring. Combine workplace pressures with a stressful commute and the damage is worsened.

As a remedy, working from home for all or some of the week will give vital breathing space and time to get critical work done without office pressures. Allowing people to choose their workspace will likely increase their productivity and the quality of work. Because they’ll be able to control the environment that they work in. Whether that’s a vibrant co-work space, a cosy cafe or a quiet home office.

More time for movement

Commuting takes up a lot of time. The average Londoner spends 74 minutes every day travelling to work. In the South and East of England, the average commute time is just under an hour. That time can be spent on health-building activities like going to the gym, catching up on sleep or meditating.

That said, because you aren’t commuting and could easily remain in your home all day, you risk becoming more sedentary. Home workers must proactively plan active time into their day. Handily, however, they can often avoid peak gym times or take advantage of home workouts on YouTube and fitness apps.

Balancing other needs

Working from home offers more flexibility to meet wider lifestyle needs. The obvious one here would be working parents who can better adapt to childcare requirements. However, carers can also benefit from being in work whilst caring for an elderly, disabled or special needs relative.

It can help people who may otherwise be overlooked because of mental or physical health issues. Crippling anxiety will stop someone from commuting to an office. However, they may be able to log onto a remote system.

Living in rural areas may have previously ruled out some jobs. Now, with a good Internet connection, someone can work remotely for a company from anywhere in the world. Or they can set-up their own rural business, helping to boost their local economy and gaining access to a market much larger than the immediate area.

Fewer pollutants

Linking back to the no-commute perk, by avoiding packed buses, trains and roads, you’ll be helping your body avoid toxins like exhaust fumes. Plus, with fewer people commuting overall, vehicle emissions would fall. That means better air quality and less damage to the environment – which is healthy for everyone.

Greater work satisfaction

Studies have shown a link between autonomy and job satisfaction. Those who feel in more control of their work lives often remain with their companies for longer and feel less stressed.

It also enables you to set your priorities, whether that’s spending more time with family or getting more reps in at the gym. This has a knock-on effect on overall life satisfaction. Finally, you can usually set the pace of your work and hours worked, taking breaks when needed. This can be up or down-scaled depending on your daily needs. Taking a mental health break is much easier when at home.

Healthier at home

For some, working from home is a great opportunity for their careers and health. Those with health conditions that would’ve limited them can work remotely for employers or themselves. Others who desire more flexibility and a better work/life balance can more readily achieve it. Physical and mental health activities can fit into the working day – either in the time saved not commuting or gained through productivity increases. For employers, employees and entrepreneurs, working from home can be the catalyst to a healthier lifestyle and workforce.

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