The traditional, nine-to-five office setting is gradually disappearing. Not only are we working increasing hours, many of us are now toiling away remotely, whether in a coffee shop or at home.
According to the Office for National Statistics, about 4 million people work remotely – and the figure is predicted to rise to half of the UK workforce in 2020.
There are obvious perks to working from home, including the ability to curl up in an armchair with your laptop, or avoid office politics. But there are a number of factors which benefit both the employee and the employer.
Working from home can increase productivity
Simply put, working remotely allows you to work in a way that works best for you. That might mean working at the kitchen table in leggings and a jumper, or typing away with the radio on in the background. Importantly, feeling comfortable and working in an environment that suits you can increase productivity. Homeworkers rank their productivity as 7.7 out of 10, compared with 6.5 for office workers, according to a Canada Life Survey.
Remote working can boost morale
When companies allow their employees to work remotely, it’s a sign they trust their staff – which is a huge factor when it comes to boosting morale. That said, it’s crucial for businesses to ensure they do trust workers to get on with their work. According to a survey of 500 employees by the remote working platform LogMeIn, 46% said they feel under pressure to demonstrate they are actually working from home – including making sure they are “more responsive” on email.
Remote working is linked to happiness
The ability to work remotely has the potential to boost happiness and job satisfaction levels among employees – and a happier workforce is a more productive one.
A recent poll of 4,000 workers in the UK, US, Germany and France by the collaborative work management tool Wrike found UK workers think “doing meaningful work” is the key to office happiness – followed by the ability to work remotely.
Patricia DuChene, the general manager of EMEA at Wrike, said: “The results of Wrike’s Happiness Index indicate that UK adults are mostly uninterested in the latest and greatest workplace perks. Instead, they want to feel like they’re doing meaningful work and have some flexibility over their work schedule. Both of which are areas that companies can address right away if they want to.
“So much of our life is spent at work, which makes it critical that companies create an environment where employees want to be.”
Less sick days
Even if you work in an office with a great boss who gives you space to get work done, being forced to work in an office setting can be stressful in itself. The impact of stress is not only felt by employees, but employers too – with stress, depression and anxiety accounting for around 15.4 million working days lost due to work-related ill health in 2017/2018.
Research suggests having the option of working remotely can reduce stress for some people. According to a PGi survey, 82% of workers who telecommute said that they experience less stress. Offering a more flexible way of working also means providing a better work/life balance for employees, which will also increase retention and improve loyalty among staff.
Commuting harms our health
Whether we’re heading to work on packed trains or waiting in mile-long traffic jams, commuting can be seriously bad for our health. It contributes to anxiety, stress and it also impacts our physical health, including our waistlines.
Commuting an hour to and from work takes a considerable chunk of time out of the day – which could be better spent getting on with work, or making sure we get some exercise.
So far, so good. But are there any downsides to remote working?
It’s important to remember that not everyone wants to work remotely and there are many advantages to working in an office setting, such as working next to other people, and easy communication.
And although working from home can increase productivity, employees can easily become distracted. According to LogMeIn research, 38% of those polled said pets, family, neighbours and the television distracted them while working from home.
It can also be difficult to switch off from work when your home is your office, which can lead to remote workers doing long hours into the night.