Though it may feel like it happened overnight, it has been just over one month since the novel coronavirus has changed the face of the world as we know it. In just a few seemingly short weeks, we have gone from one of the most interconnected societies in history to one of the most isolated. The busiest corners of the globe—New York City to Rome to Tokyo and beyond—have now gone silent. And people all over are finding themselves forced to adjust to dramatic and abrupt lifestyle changes, like suddenly becoming remote workers.
Maybe you’ve recently found yourself forced to work from home. Or, perhaps you’re an employer who’s facing or has faced the decision to have your employees work remotely while we fight back against the novel coronavirus. You may also be a bit worried, picturing a remote worker that’s not so much working as they are watching that Netflix show Tiger King to see what all the fuss is about.
If you’re convinced remote workers will be the end of your company’s productive days, I have some very good news for you. Letting your employees work from home greatly reduce their risk of getting sick from COVID-19 right now, of course. But, as it turns out, remote work also has a lot of other positive health benefits. Working remotely is so good for employees, in fact, that you may want to keep the policy permanently by the end of this blog post!
Being Honest About the Office
Let’s take a minute to imagine an average day at the office. You walk in and head for a cup of coffee… and end up stuck in a half-hour-long conversation with your coworkers. You manage to excuse yourself, you get to your workstation… and your cubicle neighbor stops by to say hello and ask about your weekend. Once that’s over, it’s time for a meeting—one that, in retrospect, could have easily been an email—and before you know it, you’re two hours into your workday and haven’t done anything at all!
Now, imagine this same day for a remote worker. There’s no need to commute or wear uncomfortable work clothes. You can’t be interrupted by coworkers. There are no extraneous meetings. When you work remotely, all of those distractions disappear.
Of course, all of this sounds nice anecdotally, but what do the numbers say? As it turns out, a whopping 77 percent of surveyed workers reported greater productivity when working from home according to a 2014 ConnectSolutions survey. Workers also reported being able to get more work done in the same amount of time, a willingness to work longer hours, and a decreased need to take time off.
This may have to do with the simple fact that remote workers aren’t dealing with the constant distractions they’d be facing at the office. But there may be other factors at play, including one so deceptively simple, you might not have even considered it: People enjoy working from home!
It’s Good to Be Home
We’ve all fantasized about working from living room, free of the social norms of the office. Gone is the need to wake up extra early and deal with a stressful commute. No office drama or sharing microwave with someone who just reheated fish. And when you work from home, every day is Bring Your Pet to Work Day!
What we’re getting at here is that working from home can be a simply pleasurable experience. In fact, according to a recent OWL Labs State of Remote Work Report, remote workers are not only happier at work, they’re more likely to stick with their jobs for longer than their on-site counterparts: up to five years longer!
Why is that? It comes down to two key factors: Flexibility and trust. Remote workers are better able to work around their own schedules. They can prioritize the things in their personal lives that are meaningful to them—school, family, and hobbies, for example—while still meeting their deadlines. This leads to a better work-life balance, which makes employees feel more in control of their lives and, by extension, happier.
Next, a certain degree of trust is required for remote work to… well, work! There’s a lot less supervision involved when working remotely, so employers have to trust that their remote workers will still finish their projects on time. And when people trust each other, they’re kinder and more loyal to each other. Remote work can feel very isolating at first but, if done well, it can actually strengthen the bonds between coworkers even more than on-site work.
Tips From Remote Worker Experts
Of course, remote work isn’t all glamour. Working remotely also presents its fair share of challenges, among them feelings of isolation and the constant siren song of a Netflix binge. But, just like there are ways to adapt to working in an office, there are ways to adapt to working remotely. And, incidentally, much of the Fabulous team works remotely, so we have a few tips of our own to share.
Keep Communication Channels Open
Remote teams may not all keep the same hours, especially teams scattered across different time zones, but open and honest communication is vital and should be a top priority among remote workers. Tools like Slack, Zoom, and Tandem are making it easy for remote offices to stay connected, and they are more important to use now than ever. And don’t underestimate the power of a well-crafted email, either; you can spare yourself a lot of redundant meetings with them!
Separate Work Time and Play Time
The lines between work and non-work are the blurriest they’ve ever been. It can be very easy to find yourself working non-stop if you don’t force yourself to sign off, so be sure to set specific working hours and honor them. This will help your concentration, too. Your brain will get used to going into “working mode” if it does so at the same time every day.
Build Solid Daily Routines
Our bodies and minds love routine. Routines are comfortable and easy. But all our routines are up in the air right now because of COVID-19, so now is the perfect time to start rebuilding routines to fit your new normal. The Fabulous app is designed to do just that. We even have a work-specific program, Fabulous for Work, that can help your whole company’s workforce transform their daily habits into actions that built up their health and happiness, two especially valuable resources in these uncertain times. If you’d like to learn more, click here to see what Fabulous can do for your company.
It’s Time to Embrace Remote Work
If you’ve been uncertain about whether remote work would suit your team, now is the time to test the waters. You may find yourself surprised by how favorably your employees respond! Remote work can be a big adjustment but research is showing that the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks, for both employer and employee.