Whether it’s a delayed train on your commute, maddening office politics or a bad boss that piles on the pressure, occasional stress at work is pretty much a given. However, sometimes stress isn’t a rare occurrence, but the dominating daily feature of people’s working life. In 2014 and 15, stress accounted for 35% of all work related ill health cases and 43% of all working days lost due to ill health, but as technology develops, could this stress be solved with remote work?
A large proportion of offices no longer require employees to be physically present in order to complete their jobs, and as everyone starts using cloud-based storage, Skype and other Internet services as a matter of course, remote working is becoming ever more of a possibility. While working from home isn’t for everyone, and doing so will involve negotiation with your employer, it could be that creating a culture of flexible working is the key to a happier career.
Whether it’s working from home one day a week, or taking remote working full time, here’s the ways that remote working could solve your stress.
1. Remote Working Offers Freedom.
Perhaps the most compelling thing about remote working is the freedom it offers. You can set your own hours (within reason, you may not want to sending out emails when everyone else is asleep!) and work however you choose, whether it’s from your bed or favourite coffee shop. It also means that, should you want to visit friends or family who live a few hours away, you can simply take you laptop with you and work from wherever they are.
Even if you only work from home one or two days a week, the time you’ve saved by not commuting gives you a chance to do more of the things you want to do – whether that’s life admin or seeing friends.
While working in this self-directed fashion requires personal discipline, many people find that being in control of these kind of choices makes them happier and less stressed. Also, freedom to work as you choose is not only relaxing, it creates opportunities, such as …
2. Using Remote Work To Travel the World.
The most extreme example of this lifestyle is that enjoyed by digital nomads, who travel continuously while earning a living with remote digital jobs. Some have steady employers who are happy to let them work from the other side of the world as long as they hit deadlines, others are freelancers or run their own businesses. Using services which allow them to use holiday homes on a casual basis – like Airbnb at one end of the market and international property fund The Hideaways Club at the other – to facilitate their travel lifestyle, digital nomads keep their lives simple by not owning homes and instead finding ways to hop between them.
They also try to avoid acquiring too much stuff, keeping to what they can carry, and often consider themselves to be location independent, global citizens. Tapping away on a laptop on a tropical beach seems like a dream lifestyle, but it is achievable – it’s just something that takes commitment, organisation and work. Also, if you like the idea of working travel but the full digital nomad lifestyle isn’t for you, you can compromise and use its example to organise short working holidays instead.
3. Commuting Less is Good For Your State of Mind.
A recent report by Randstad found that almost 2 million Brits are spending three hours or more on their daily commute, eating into free time, family life and at a significant expense. It’s been found that commuters experience a drop in life satisfaction, are less likely to feel what they do is worthwhile, are less happy and more anxious. In fact, this negative effect on wellbeing becomes more pronounced with each extra minute that people commute, and people with longer commutes are unhappier with their careers – even if they earn more.
All this suggests that commuting less by working remotely for a couple of days a week (or, indeed, working remotely all the time and cutting out the commute entirely) could make you happier and less anxious.
4. Remote Working May Even Improve Your Performance.
Something that creates huge amounts of stress in a career is the feeling that you are falling behind, or not performing as well as you’d like. By working from home, and being free from office distractions, you may find that that is no longer an issue, as companies and employees alike report that remote working improves productivity.
It may seem like remote working will create greater opportunities to procrastinate, but focusing on work will actually come more naturally if you are happy, relaxed and engaged, something that may well be easier from home. Knowing that you are in the office from nine until five, even if you finish your all your tasks by three, can encourage procrastination as you attempt to kill time, whereas at home you know that by finishing earlier you can move on to something else.
With benefits to the environment from not running energy-hungry offices, more profits for companies and less employee turnover, remote working could soon become as valid an option as heading into the office every day.
This post was written by Holly Ashby, a writer who’s interested in health, happiness and corporate wellbeing. She currently works for the meditation centre Will Williams Meditation, who help people handle anxiety with meditation.