Working remotely has amazing health benefits, which I’m about to explain to you as soon as I finish this Rick & Morty marathon and put on pants. I’m just kidding—I don’t even own any pants. I mean, maybe they’re in the laundry, I don’t know. It doesn’t matter, though, I’m buried under a pile of pizza boxes and Four Loco cans; you can’t see me. I only wear pants to answer the door for Amazon, my best friend in the whole world (and only human contact, besides my neighbor who thinks I’m a drug dealer, which he would know is just crazy if he’d only watch my YouTube channel: Productivity Hacks for Essential Oil Life Coach Healers Promoting Mindfulness in Macro Adjacent Niche Revenue Streams—and Birds.)
Or so some managers believe about home workers. The truth is saner. Most companies are on board with a remotely working, distributed workforce. It makes them more productive, develops an impressive talent pool, and saves money on everything from environmental management to rent. Great benefits that make everybody look good, all of which owe the boon they provide to the bottom line from the way working remotely makes for healthier employees. Working at home lets you be more flexible, gives you greater control over how you balance life and work and erases a significant portion of the stress associated with doing nine-to-five in a lonely cell. I mean cubicle.
The Benefits of Working Remotely
Say goodbye to gridlock. I work at home. My wife does not. She gets up at 6 a.m., screams for 11 miles, then lands at her desk hangry and murderous. I get up at 9 a.m. something to stare out the kitchen window while I drink high-quality coffee and listen to NPR in a t-shirt and shorts. I take care of my dog. I run a few minutes on the treadmill. Then I crack open my laptop and get to work around 10 a.m. I’m usually in a great mood. I haven’t screamed at anyone. I haven’t rushed. The only reason my heart is racing is that I’m fat and my treadmill hates me.
When you eliminate your commute, you also eliminate the threat of annihilation by combustion engine, which adds to the likelihood of living longer. Every time you merge onto the interstate, you enter a high stakes death-trap corridor of mostly awake, wildly distracted stressed-out maniacs hurtling along in poorly maintained, fragile machines powered by highly flammable explosion juice. That you show up at all is a tiny little miracle. But Although most accidents occur within two blocks of one’s home, few of them occur in one’s kitchen while one is enjoying a nice cup of joe.
Not getting into your car is a 100% effective way to not get into a car wreck.
But there’s more to working remotely!
Commuting makes you fat, tired, and anxious. Your blood pressure spikes for the day and may rise to unsafe levels over time. Commuters are depressed. Your sleep sucks. Your back hurts. Worse, the time you spend on the road is absolutely wasted. The U.S. Census Bureau’s current calculated commute is about 26 minutes for the 139 million workers who drive to work every day. That’s 3.4 million years sitting behind a 1997 Mercury that still has a bumper sticker for Ross Perot.
Even if you scale that back to just your own life, a half-hour in and a half hour out means you spend nearly 11 hours a month defying death by Kia Soul and have 11 hours a month less to spend with your kids. Or your dog. Or playing Fortnight. That’s 132 hours a year. That’s a four-year degree. YOU COULD BE A DOCTOR BY NOW!
The elusive balanced life all within reach. Work-life balance is a thing for lawyers. I know, I am married to one and I haven’t seen her since 1998. Her hours, apparently this is true for all attorneys, are when she’s awake. If you’re not an attorney, know this about the legal profession: 100-hour weeks are typical. Sure, their compensation is above average, but they spend most of that money on therapy. A lot of professions are like that.
But just imagine if you worked at home: Your life and job could be as perfectly balanced as your checkbook.
Because you’d be at home. Sure, you’re working. But where you normally step out of your office for a sanity break in the coffee nook to make passable hot brown water from a Keurig, now you can pop into your kitchen and knock out a brilliantly Starbucksian cortado. Oh man, hey, don’t forget the dog has to go to the vet and oh my God the traffic at 5:45 is Brobdingnagian. Except no, it’s not, because you can take a break at 1:34, drop your bichon frise off at the doggy doctor and be back at your desk before your coffee’s cold.
And all those manic bumper-to-bumpernauts you’d have battled after you clocked out? They’re still in the office.
But not you, you — you’re having a healthy snack at home.
Mother would be so proud. Heck, your sister who Instagrams avocados all day would pluck her eyes out with a slotted spoon from pure jealousy because she works at an insurance office and their salad bar is a broom closet.
Just look at the spread on your kitchen counter: steamed asparagus, brown rice, soy-glazed wild-caught salmon, and a glass of 2004 Chave Hermi . . . I mean grapefruit juice. Beats the crud out of the vending machines on the fourth floor and it’s about $7 cheaper and 400 calories lighter than the kale smoothies you used to buy around the corner from work. Plus, it tastes like food.
Which wouldn’t matter that much, since you saved so much time working remotely and not commuting and spending your lunch break in line, you walked the dog around the block and scored 1,700 extra steps. And, you’re about two hours into tomorrow’s workload. Why not circumnavigate the whole neighborhood and blow your FitBit up with a solid 8,000 steps? No one will know because they’re all dying at their desks while you’re kicking the productivity curve into the stratosphere.
Working remotely is your new superpower.
Also, what is this feeling of ebullient joy? That, my dear, is less than half your daily dose of dammits. You’re missing the morning misery. You’re eating excellent ensalada con samon. Your work’s done. There’s a strange effervescence bubbling up through your bones. You feel like a glass of champagne. That’s the absence of the soul-crushing press of satanic urgency you usually feel. That’s the absence of your case manager walking past your open office door 70 times a day. That’s the absence of sweater-vest-Steve from accounts receivable. This is what life is supposed to feel like.
But all these delights pale when compared to the single restorative perk of working remotely that matters most.
Sleeeeeeeep. Oh. My. Lord. With just an extra 15 minutes of shut-eye in the morning, you bank six more hours a month. Six hours. And what if you slept a whole half-hour longer? Eleven. That’s 16 full nights of sawing logs because you’re working remotely. That’s a two-week vacation! Look, you can ask Siri about the known benefits of a healthy sleep schedule. But here’s a result Siri might not know: You’ll be happier.
All that drive-time depression and bad fluorescent lighting and—ugh—Steve. It all adds up. Your morning melancholy and hanger on the highway become your normal until they wear away hope. Pretty soon you find yourself in a fast-food drive-through super-sizing your carcinogens. And then, years later when you should retire early to hike Machu Pichu and work on your novel, you’re checking into the cardiac wing and the only person who visits you is … Steve.
Sure, your job may well be your life. But does your job have to happen at the office all day, every day? Consider working remotely, even if just a few days a week to start.