The State of Wellbeing for Remote Employees

May 14, 2018

Does working from home equal happiness?

Studies show how integral well being is to employee productivity, as employees with low wellbeing have more unscheduled absences, higher medical costs, and lower engagement. In recent years, remote working has grown by leaps and bounds. More than 35% of U.S. employees work remotely at least part of the time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

HR professionals might assume that because remote working enhances work/life balance that it also improves employee wellbeing. But is that really true?

 

Remote workers achieve greater productivity

There’s no question that remote employees are more productive than their peers who work at corporate offices. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 86% of telecommuters say that they are more productive from their home offices. And you don’t have to rely solely on employee self-reporting—more than two-thirds of managers also report increased productivity from their remote workers.

 

Telecommuters experience more happiness and less stress

Saying goodbye to traffic jams and taking back the hours normally spent commuting improves the outlook of many employees. The UK Office of National Statistics reported that employees who worked from home had higher personal wellbeing across measures of happiness, anxiety, and life satisfaction.

The UK Royal Society for Public Health found that 55% of people felt more stress as a direct result of their commute. This was backed up by another study by Staples that found employees working from home experienced 25% less stress than their in-office counterparts.

 

Remote workers can better protect their health

When employees work in home offices, they are exposed to far fewer people throughout the day. This can help limit the impact on the organization when contagious illnesses such as colds, flu, and norovirus sweep through the office. Allowing employees to work from home at least part of the time will mean that employees who are sick can stay home until they are well, without sacrificing productivity.

Remote work may be particularly beneficial to employees with serious illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Working from home could help these employees maintain high levels of productivity while providing the flexibility to attend medical appointments, maintain exercise and diet regimens, and guard vulnerable immune systems.

 

Providing greater autonomy may boost wellbeing

Research teams at the Universities of Sheffield and Exeter studied self-employed professionals to see how they differed from full-time employees. They found that self-employed people found work more rewarding and had greater happiness than FTEs in spite of working longer hours with less job security. The reason seemed to be that self-employed people enjoy a higher degree of autonomy.

Corporations could leverage this information by offering remote employees more autonomy over their schedules and other aspects of their work. Some remote workers feel micromanaged by supervisors who don’t quite trust they are truly working. Most remote employees would prefer to have contract with their direct supervisor either once per day (31%) or once per week (34%).

 

Balance employee wellbeing against real estate optimization

Remote workers have higher measurements of several key aspects of wellbeing, including health, happiness, and stress levels. Employers also benefit from greater employee productivity—a win-win for everyone. Asure Software Mobile Workforce Management solutions provide organizations with tools to balance employee flexibility and workspace cost efficiency.