When most people think about working from home, they think of the basic comforts that make telecommuting such an appealing option: wearing whatever they want, being steps from their desk, drinking their own coffee instead of whatever that might be in the office break room.
But there are additional real and measurable benefits that working from home offers to employees that go far beyond working in pajamas.
Here are five benefits of working from home for employees:
1. Save time and money
This is arguably one of the biggest benefits of working from home. It doesn’t matter which metro area your employees are closest to—everyone complains about traffic and the commute.
Working from home not only reduces commute time to the mere seconds it takes to transition from one room to another, but also saves money in gas, decreases wear and tear on vehicles, and gives morning and afternoon commute time back to employees.
According to U.S. Census Bureau data cited by CNBC, the average one-way commute in the United States is just over 26 minutes, which means that commuting to a full-time job five days per week adds up to more than four hours each week in wasted commute time—or almost nine days every year.
The time saved by working from home—not to mention the reduced stress of not having to sit in rush-hour traffic every day—is enough to convince most people that working from home is worth it. But the money employees can save on fuel and repair expenses can be just as beneficial.
2. Beat stress
The reduction in the amount of stress you feel when working from home is a benefit that might be harder to measure, but the difference can be felt immediately by remote workers.
Not only do your days start in a less stressful way—you won’t have to get yourself ready while also helping the rest of your family get out the door on time—but you also don’t have the added stress of a rush-hour commute that can torpedo your mood before you even make it to the office.
In addition, you’re already in the comfort of your own home as you sit down to focus on the day’s work. Not feeling your best? Pull a fuzzy blanket over your lap and enjoy your favorite cup of tea before easing into the day.
There’s also less stress when it comes to taking care of everyday emergencies, like sick kids. It’s stressful enough getting that call from your daughter’s school saying she hit her head in the playground.
It can feel even more stressful when you have to notify your boss with coworkers shooting questioning glances at each other as you head out the door.
When you work from home, you can communicate briefly with your supervisor and team to let them know what happened, and then you can focus on making sure your child is OK.
What’s more, our homes are often closer than our offices in our children’s schools. This means we can take care of things and get back to work more quickly than if we had to drive from the office.
There can also be less stress when it comes to getting your actual work done. According to a 2017 report from Regus, most people find that they can focus better and get more done when they work remotely and aren’t distracted by the typical office interruptions.
They might still have the same meetings and emails, but when you telecommute, you have fewer stressful interruptions that can keep you from getting your work done.
3. Enjoy an increased work-life balance
The idea of work-life balance has become an idealized goal that seems out of reach for most of us. In fact, there is a growing trend of using new phrases that do a better job of depicting a more realistic goal, such as work-life integration. Work-life integration focuses on blending these areas of our lives and not always striving for that elusive balance.
Whatever you choose to call it, working from home can allow us to have more control over our daily schedule to manage our work and home responsibilities.
For example, having more time due to the lack of a commute might mean that we can drive our kids to school some days instead of sending them on the bus.
Or it could mean fitting in a workout between sending the kids off to school and sitting down to work—allowing you to stay fit without having to wake up earlier and losing some precious sleep time.
Or it could allow you to volunteer for an hour during the workweek when you might not have been able to find the time before.
Improving your work-life integration could also mean taking the time to have lunch with a friend once a week, or being able to schedule a dentist appointment at the beginning of the day or at lunch, instead of the end of the day when things get busy with kids’ homework and after-school activities.
When you have more time in your day and more control over your schedule, you can get more done—or simply enjoy some well-deserved downtime.
Whatever work-life balance or integration means to you, it only works if you set some healthy boundaries. Because the lines between work and life can easily be blurred when you work from home, it’s important to set your work hours and stick to them or you may find yourself working all the time.
It is too easy to pick up your laptop and check your email one more time before you turn in for the night. Even if you promise not to do it often, it can quickly become a habit—and before you know it, you’re working much more from home than you did at the office.
4. Improve your health
We’ve already covered one of the biggest ways telecommuters experience improved health, and that is by reducing stress levels in their daily lives. However, there are other reasons that people who work from home are at an advantage when it comes to staying healthy.
Without the commute time on either end of their workday, most people who work remotely can get more sleep. Many of us who have over-scheduled weeks admit that sleep is the first thing to go when we don’t have enough time to get everything done in our day.
By skipping the commute, you can sleep longer in the morning and get more of those hours of recommended sleep that experts say we need.
Working from home can also allow us to get more fresh air, sunshine, and Vitamin D. One of the best things about telecommuting is being able to work from wherever you want.
That could mean following the sun around your house as it makes its way from your office to the dining room to the living room by the end of the day—but it can also mean taking your work outside.
If you have a day full of meetings but won’t need your computer, you can take a walking meeting with just your phone and earbuds with a microphone.
No one likes meetings, but having a meeting while going for a walk can feel like you’re back in college, when the professor took the class outside and taught under a tree on the quad.
Alternatively, if you need to be on your computer, you can take it outside and sit on your patio or balcony as long as you have enough shade to see your computer screen. And beyond our need for Vitamin D, it does our mental health a world of good to get outside every day.
People who work from home also tend to eat better. Doesn’t it seem like it’s always someone’s birthday in the office—and the accompanying treats are always around? Or someone is always bringing in yummy baked goods from home? Or what about those food delivery services that bring breakfast burritos in the morning or candy and nuts in the afternoon?
Sure, we can have those same temptations at home, but we also have more control over what’s in our refrigerators. And you’ll be less inclined to grab an indulgent coffee with a coworker or go out to lunch every day when your kitchen just steps away.
Another way working from home can improve our health is that it allows us the chance to exercise whenever it best suits our schedule and body clock.
Some people like to work out at the beginning or the end of the day, but some people like to work out at lunchtime, or even when they start to feel that mid-afternoon slump. What better way to get past that sleepy time of day than to go for a quick run or bike ride?
Related: Best Ergonomic Home Office Setup
5. Reduce clothing expenses
While most people who work from home like to joke about their dress code, it actually is a benefit that offers both time and cost savings for employees. Plus, when you don’t have to wear an uncomfortable suit to the office, you might find that you are more productive.
Most people have a completely different wardrobe for after work and on the weekends, but when you work from home, you can wear the same thing whether you are working or heading to your kid’s baseball game.
Pajama pants, yoga pants, workout wear: anything goes, and almost no thought needs to go into what you’re going to wear that day—unless perhaps you have an important video conference, in which case, you might want to throw on a business casual shirt that you would wear to the office.
In addition to the comfort and ease of a work-from-home wardrobe, there are real cost-savings that remote workers can experience. Not only do they have less of a need for business clothes like suits and dress shoes, but they will also experience savings in dry cleaning and laundering costs.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average consumer spends as much as $1,850 on clothing annually. Even if only half that amount is spent on clothes for work, a telecommuter could be saving as much $925 every year on clothing expenses alone—not including those unending dry cleaning costs.
As you can see, the benefits of working from home are extensive, and different benefits will have more meaning to some people than others.
But once you experience firsthand how much your life can improve when working remotely, you might start to wonder why you spent so much time working in a traditional office setting.