For those of us who commute to work every day, it’s always an adventure. Not only can the D.C.-area commute take its literal and proverbial “toll,” but it also can impact that elusive work-life balance you were promised during your orientation.
In today’s digital age, more employees are working remotely – usually from the comfort of home – in lieu of facing dangerous commutes and dull cubicles. In fact, many government agencies and private-sector organizations not only allow working remotely, they incentivize it.
After all, remote employees don’t require the organization to pay for floorspace (an office or cubicle) or parking space, thereby reducing the firm’s expenses and carbon footprint as well as contributing to a happier morale.
If you are considering working away from the office, or if you already do, below are some health impacts to be aware of, both positive and negative.
Positive Health Reasons to Work from Home
Working in an office can make you want to snack more often. Many offices have kitchens or vending machines that are filled with fatty and sugary snack foods like chips, cookies, and sodas. One Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® corporation offers unlimited free M&Ms all day every Wednesday!
Bringing lunch from home requires motivation and preparation, so it generally feels better to sit back and enjoy the after-work evenings and sleep in in the mornings rather than making lunch to take to work. Fast-food restaurants or pre-made meals from the grocery store are much easier alternatives and save time, but they’re generally not very nutritious.
At home, however, you can quickly make a healthy sandwich or salad right from the refrigerator during lunchtime, and you can snack on fresh fruit more easily when you’re at home – because the whole refrigerator is yours and it’s close at hand.
With local commutes that can take up to three hours one way, wouldn’t it be lovely to sleep in and still make it to work on time? When you save time on getting dressed and driving, you can get plenty of sleep – which the medical community agrees is essential to optimum health.
Plus, when the job is driven by hours or product rather than a rigid daily schedule, the night owls among us prefer to take naps during the day and get their creative juices flowing at nighttime – which is something you can’t do in an office.
Lower Stress Levels
Traffic, meetings, commutes, office protocols, and annoying co-workers can cause a lot of stress when you work in an office. When you work from home, however, the emphasis is less on your looking professional and more on your being professional.
No rude or obnoxious coworkers. Definitely no confinement in a small cubicle or desk. You can even play soft (or loud) music on a whim, have your dog next to your feet, or lie in bed with your laptop – whatever works for you to produce your best.
Fewer Sick Days
Working from home means no more exposure to co-workers who are coming to the office with a cold or “just getting over” a flu. So you’re less likely to be exposed to germs, and you can work even if you’re feeling a little under the weather or have an ailing back.
Healthy eating and sleeping habits, combined with lower stress levels, all work in your immune system’s favor. You’ll enjoy more productivity and fewer sick days when you work remotely.
With more time for yourself and a (typically) more flexible schedule, you can add exercise to your daily routine. In fact, if you tend to participate in long conference calls with your phone on mute, consider listening to the call while taking a walk or enjoying your treadmill.
More Time to See Your Doctor
If you work in an office that’s located in or near downtown Washington, D.C., you know that going to the dentist or a physical therapy session can mean taking quite a bit of time away from work simply because of the traffic situation throughout the area.
Therefore, rather than taking five hours off for an hour-long appointment, that same appointment may require taking only two hours off of work if you work from home.
Working from home allows you to have a much better work-life balance while avoiding much of the workplace drama that can drag you down. If you work remotely, you may communicate with your co-workers over the phone or via Skype, which can greatly reduce office drama.
Imagine making it to your daughter’s soccer game and still getting in a full day at work. It’s a win-win – you can maintain stronger relationships with your family and healthier relationships with co-workers.
Negative Reasons to Work from Home
Working from home can make you long for cozy conversations over coffee, or the fun of brainstorming with colleagues in front of a white board. People who work remotely 100 percent of the time may not even know what their co-workers look like.
If you live alone, it may not be a good idea to work from home, because you’re not getting that natural human interaction on a daily basis.
The dog needs to go outside? Sure! Need to put on your makeup or take that shower? Sure! No one will really notice, at least not too much.
Even if you work on a set schedule remotely, all you need to do is to move your mouse every so often so you appear to be working. It can be very tempting to work less efficiently.
If you don’t have a great deal of self-discipline and motivation, you will likely not accomplish as much in an eight-hour timeframe working remotely as compared to working in an office, which forces you to focus your energies and efforts.
Office Hours Seem to Be 24/7
Working remotely too often translates to feeling that you’re “available” all the time. If you work from home or work remotely, try to protect your schedule just as you would if you were working at an office.
It’s important to set clear boundaries between work time and private time. Turn off your computer and turn off your work phone when you cannot be disturbed.
Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
The benefits of working remotely are many, especially if you are a self-starter, have a high level of self-discipline, and are not easily distracted. For many multitaskers, working from home is a blessing.
But for those who tend to work more productively with the stimulation and structure of an office environment, telecommuting may not be right for you. What works for one person may not work for another.
Personalized Primary Care Physician in Rockville
Your health is of utmost importance. The physicians and staff at Rockville Concierge Doctors provide personalized, patient-centered care for patients with chronic conditions as well as preventive care for individuals throughout their lives – from young adulthood to middle age to their senior years.
Contact us today to learn about the myriad benefits of concierge medicine and what we have to offer you. Call (301) 545-1811 or get started online to schedule a complimentary meet-and-greet consultation. We look forward to getting to know you.