Why working remotely can make you happier
Most of us dream of working from home, at least some of the time. And few of us can say we are not a little envious of friends who have the possibility, even now and then, to write a report, finish a blueprint, or design a video game while wearing their pajamas. It’s true that remote work, whether full-time or as a perk of a regular office gig, might not be for everyone—you have to be able to resist streaming the latest-and-greatest on Netflix or spending time updating your Instagram feed. But 91 per cent of workers say they are more productive when ensconced in their own cocoon, and as it turns out, the flexibility that comes with telecommuting might just make them happier too.
Here are some reasons why now is the right time to push for remote work.
It’s the way the workforce is headed
Finding flexibility seems to be the driving motivation for an increasing segment of the workforce. A recent Workopolis study confirms that over the past couple of years, the number of job applicants using the search terms “work from home” and “remote” has gone up from 3 percent in 2014 to almost 8.5 per cent in 2015, and that number increased again last year.
But these applicants are also more likely to hold or look for more than one job, with the number of job hoppers tripling from 2000 to 2015. Companies are getting hip to this generational shift, and are now offering more remote work options or allow even full-time office employees the chance to work from home. TELUS, for example, introduced its “Work Styles” flexible work program in 2006. The program divided workers into three categories:
- Teleworker, who work remotely
- Mobile, who are often on the road
- Resident, who are based in the office
Currently, just under 50% of TELUS’ staff works outside the office, and both employees and the company have benefited from the increased flexibility.
It’s easier than it’s ever been
Remote work is becoming much easier than it ever was thanks to technology—all you need, pretty much, is a reliable Internet connection. We can Skype in to meetings or hop on conference calls using VPN networks and wireless Internet, so we’re able to stay connected just about as easily as if we were in an office.
Unsurprisingly, the tech industry is a leader in remote work, with many companies offering flexible schedules and telecommuting opportunities that suit web-based work.
Working remotely makes you a better, healthier employee
A study by the California State Polytechnic University has shown that remote workers are at least 10 percent more productive than their office-working counterparts. And a Stanford University experiment showed working from home led to an increase in productivity of 13 percent. But what’s interesting is that remote workers are more likely to plug away when they are under the weather, meaning fewer sick days.
And that’s not all. Being able to work from home, even if not on a full-time basis, means spending less time commuting and have more time for pastimes, family, and friends—or even for putting in a bit of extra time to make that report shine and earn you a raise or a promotion. It also means you can live wherever you want to live, and then design your workspace the way you want it, rather than having to fit into a cookie-cutter corporate design.
It can get you into a forward-looking company
Most often, the companies that offer flexibility when it comes to your work terms are computer and IT firms. The backbone of their business is technology-based, and much of the work undertaken by those companies is already happening virtually. But a lot of creative agencies (ad agencies, publishers, marketing firms) realize that workers often need time to focus on projects that require creative, out-of-the-box thinking and will therefore build into their culture the opportunity to work from home.
The same goes for sales and administrative jobs, customer service, some teaching and training positions, and marketing gigs.
If remote work is the way you want to steer your career, you may want to upgrade your skills relevant to these professions, if you don’t already have them. The good news is that, in general, remote work is on the rise, and more and more firms are getting on board with this growing trend. So get on board! Your pets will thank you for working from home.