7 Major Benefits of Working From Home, According to People Who Never Want to Go Back to the Office
For many people whose work has shifted from the traditional office environment to fully at-home, “going to the office” has meant getting out of bed, brushing your teeth, changing into comfy clothes, and heading to the kitchen table or your home office, coffee in hand. It has meant skipping long commutes by car or public transit, and making lunch in your kitchen instead of hitting up your local takeout spot with your coworkers. And for many workers of color, it may also mean being subjected to fewer microaggressions and less pressure to perform what Duke University professor Angelica Leigh, who teaches management and organization at the school’s Fuqua School of Business, calls identity labor, FiveThirtyEight noted.
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Working from home or adopting a flexible hybrid schedule isn’t available to everyone, and employers and employees are still navigating the ins and outs of back-to-the-office guidelines — especially as COVID-19 cases fluctuate. Even so, many employees have found that WFH has been extremely beneficial to their day-to-day life. Some have even called the experience life-changing for a variety of reasons, including more time with their families, less stress, and better mental health and wellness. Here’s why they’re hoping working from home sticks around for good.
You can unlock your creativity in different ways — and prioritize rest.
Though plenty of teachers have run into new hurdles posed by remote learning, the experience also allowed Laura in New Jersey crucial time to recharge once her day was over. “After teaching for 10 years and commuting sometimes up to three hours into New York City, I used to collapse at home and have no space to cook or do errands or things I loved. I just was zapped,” she explains, adding that teaching via Zoom, while not for everyone, “restored so much energy to my life,” noting that the new format “made me think more creatively and gave me so much more rest in my day.”
Laura also found that virtual learning made her class grow closer. “We all would show each other how the snow looked out of each of our windows,” she says. “Show-and-tell took on a different importance.”
You may feel less pressure related to your appearance.
For several people, working from home has freed them from the pressure to conform to a certain look — one that often ascribes to racist and Eurocentric beauty standards — and allowed them to focus more on work. Some studies have shown that someone’s perceived attractiveness can be a factor in earning potential and promotions, while others show that women can face adverse consequences for the ways they do or don’t spend time on their appearance.
“As a woman, not feeling ‘on display’ has been huge,” says Katherine in Minnesota. “I find that this space and comfort makes me less reactive and more thoughtful, so [I am] a better employee.” Because she doesn’t need to rush to get ready in the morning, she no longer worries as much about how she looks. “I’m in my own safe space. I’m excelling at my job and more confident in my capabilities. I had a baby and got a double promotion in the same year … not common, to say the least,” she notes.
Working from home can provide privacy and resources that some workplaces don’t.
WFH has also been life-changing for new moms, who haven’t had to deal with the inconvenience of pumping in the office, cleaning pump parts, and storing milk at work. “I had my son in fall of 2019 and returned to work in January 2020,” says Kayla in Wisconsin. “Pumping was terrible in-office for many reasons, including having to pump in a room that doubled as a meeting room, so when the pandemic started, I welcomed the opportunity to be around my son more often and never pumped again!”
Are you an expert multitasker? You can factor chores into your everyday life.
For many, WFH has allowed them to keep up with daily chores and have more time for hobbies and leisure, not to mention a healthier work-life balance. “I’ve been able to get small chores done throughout the day that allow more time to enjoy my weekends without catching up on housework,” explains Kayla. “Doing loads of laundry, loading/unloading the dishwasher, and vacuuming a room can be done between meetings and in place of times when I would normally be making small talk in the office.”
Laura in New Jersey saw financial benefits alongside work-life balance. She and her husband have been able to make more progress on their savings goals, as her WFH status meant reduced commuting fees and lunch expenses.
No more long, antagonizing commutes.
The lack of commute is one of the biggest reasons employees cite as a benefit of working from home — however, one study found that instead of driving or taking public transport, many Americans only worked more, so be sure not to overdo it. “I’m able to be productive without the anxiety of a 40-minute commute each way, meaning work starts and ends at a ‘normal’ time with set boundaries,” says Veronica in Florida. “No more staying late to wait out traffic, burning myself out and feeling crappy about coming home when it’s dark. I’m a lot happier and my home life is a lot more relaxed since we don’t have to cram chores and quality time in the few hours between dinner and bedtime.”
The lack of commute can also set the tone to a brighter, calmer morning routine. “Cutting out the commute has given me more time at home and has also removed the stressful drive into work, allowing me a gentler start to the work day and generally, a more positive one,” explains Kayla.
You can prioritize your mental health in ways that are truly supportive.
While working from home can certainly be stressful — especially if you’re sharing the space with little ones, or other people with meetings, classes, or other WFH needs — the shift can also have a positive effect on your mental health and overall wellness. “I always had anxiety and high blood pressure. I’m 100 percent sure this was triggered by work,” shares Raul in Minnesota. Working from home meant no more getting ready or hustling for the bus to get to work on time, helping to reduce his anxiety.
It has also helped him focus better. “I feel more productive because I don’t have people standing by my desk asking me questions. I get to have full control of my time and productivity and I get to spend quality time with my family,” Raul notes. With the lack of commute and time spent in the office, he has more time to work out, and he feels better in general. “My anxiety and blood pressure has been controlled since this started because I no longer feel the stress of always being in a rush.”
Shannon in North Carolina says she’ll never willingly take a job where she has to be in an office full-time again. “I’m an introvert, so being able to focus on work and only interact with my direct team and when it’s absolutely needed saves me the emotional exhaustion of regular interruptions by people coming by my office,” she explains.
The shift has also been beneficial to her well-being and comfort.
And you can attend to your physical health comfortably and privately.
Comfort is key in most homes, and particularly for people with chronic illnesses, who often take special care to make their homes a soothing place that meets their needs. Having the ability to work from home can help people with short- and long-term health needs alike, as they can prioritize their healing rather than grimace their way through a tough day in public.
While many offices offer wellness programs and adaptations for those with specific needs or disabilities, it may be easier to listen to what your body needs when it needs it. As someone with fibromyalgia, working from home gives Shannon access to relief when she needs it. “At one point in my life I was actually unable to work outside the home because of it. I eventually got better, but the exhaustion of commuting to and from work didn’t leave me with much time to do anything else,” she shares.
For Shannon, working from home helps her stick to what she calls a “fairly strict” diet and exercise regimen, as well as make herself more comfortable when needed. “I have a lot of small things — heating pads, for example — that help in small ways if I’m having a rough day, or I can work from bed if I need to,” she explains. “All those accommodations don’t even need to be discussed with my boss. That gives me both the accommodations for my illness and the privacy of handling it with dignity and not explaining what I have to do to have a functional life.”
Alexandra in Virginia says working from home allows her space to prioritize her health in private. “As a perimenopausal woman, it’s been wonderful not having to navigate an embarrassing work day filled with profuse sweating, chills, or hot flashes,” she says. Though entirely normal, her symptoms “made me feel like a disgusting mess and added a huge amount of stress to my work day trying to find strategies to cope. Nobody can smell my body odor, see me sweating or my red face, and I can easily change clothes if needed during the day.”
Beck in Cancun, Mexico, agrees. They started a fully-remote career tutoring students online after dealing with health issues and a toxic work environment. “I am still dealing with chronic illness and chronic pain so getting to be my own boss with flexibility and not having to commute is huge,” they shared. “I have my service dog with me with no issues ever … It’s completely changed my life in a way that I am still trying to understand myself but definitely for the better!”
They are now able to schedule their time to pursue hobbies, enjoy nature, and prioritize their health when needed without having to adapt to an in-office schedule. “I am at the point where I really don’t think I will return to my career as it was,” they explain. “Getting to schedule doctor visits and time off for recovery has given me so much peace of mind. Moving just to sea level made my disability much easier to deal with. I am swimming in the ocean a lot, the only exercise I can really do anymore. I can teach for a few hours, [and] go to the beach for the rest of the evening.”