Benefits of Telecommuting

Social distancing to slow the spread of coronavirus has kept millions of people away from the office.

Many are working from home instead. Figuring out how to video conference might be challenging, but telecommuting also has some real health benefits.

Less Germs

Crowded offices, buses, subway cars, and commuter trains could potentially expose you to coronavirus. The best way to stop it from spreading is to stay away from other people. Working from home helps you do just that.

Less Stress

Work can be stressful. So can the drive if you spend most of your commute stuck in traffic. At home, you may be better able to manage triggers, like annoying co-workers or a demanding boss. That could be why one study found that people who telecommute for 8 or more hours a month are less likely to be depressed than those who don't work from home.

Better Health

Lower stress levels could also be a key to better health habits. The same study found that people who work from home are less likely to be overweight and are active. They’re also less likely to misuse alcohol or use tobacco. The short commute from the bedroom to the home office also leaves more free time for exercise.

Less stress also lowers your risk for:

Cleaner Air

We can all breathe easier when more people telecommute. The cars and buses that get us to work release pollutants into the air. Pollution is a serious health risk. It causes one-third of all deaths from stroke, lung cancer, and heart disease. One study found that working from home reduces air pollution by up to 4%.

The Downsides

Working from home isn't always a positive experience. The shift from office building to home office can cause problems, too. Living and working in the same place can blur the line between your work and personal life. Work may start to creep into the time you'd normally reserve for family and friends. That’s why it’s important to have clear start and stop times.

The Future of Teleworking

Working from home isn't likely to end once the coronavirus pandemic is under control. As of 2018, nearly 25% of employees in the United States worked at least a few hours from home on most days. In one survey, 30% of people who worked remotely at least a few times a month said they got more done at home in less time. Employers also benefit because telecommuters tend to be happier and less likely to quit their jobs as a result.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on April 15, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

 

American Journal of Health Promotion: "The Effects of Telecommuting Intensity on Employee Health."

American Psychological Association: "By the numbers: Our stressed-out nation."

Atmospheric Pollution Research: "The relationship between teleworking, traffic and air pollution."

CDC: "Coronavirus and Travel in the United States," "Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation."

News release, Gartner, April 3, 2020.

Mayo Clinic: "Can chronic stress cause depression?" “Chronic stress puts your health at risk.”

New Technology, Work and Employment: "The psychological impact of teleworking: stress, emotions, and health."

SHRM: "Study: Teleworkers More Productive -- Even When Sick."

Social Forces: "Telecommuting and earnings trajectories among American women and men 1989 - 2008."

The Quarterly Journal of Economics: "Does working from home work? Evidence from a Chinese experiment."

Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour: "Am stressed, must travel: The relationship between mode choice and commuting stress."

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: "Table 6. Employed persons working at home, workplace, and time spent working at each location by full- and part-time status and sex, jobholding status, and educational attainment, 2018 annual averages."

WHO: "How air pollution is destroying our health."

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