Secret: The Top 7 Undisclosed Benefits of Telework

Photo credit: citrixonline from Flickr

We often hear about the benefits of teleworking (e.g., cost savings, gas, more mobile workforce, etc), but what people don’t always tell you are those undisclosed benefits that you don’t realize until you actually telework regularly.

I’ve been teleworking for about one month now. I do 2 days in the office, and 3 days at home. Even though I’ve only gotten a taste of the benefits so far, I wanted to share the top 7 benefits that I’ve discovered. They’re little things that you don’t think about which, and they might seem insignificant, but to many they might make a big difference in your sanity (at least they do to me). These are in no particular order, just the top 7.

  1. Your shoes stink less! Let’s be honest, many of us spend at least 8 – 10 hours a day, 5 days a week in the same shoes for the most part. Your feet sweat…it’s a biological certainty. But if you’re working from home at least 2 days a week, that’s a lot less life you’ll get out of your shoes. Here’s some basic math:
    • 260 days of week per year x 8 hours/day = 2080 hours
    • 2080 hours / 24 hours = 86.66 days <—your shoes will thank you for this (as well as your family)
  2. Free lunches! Well, you still have to buy groceries to support your “at home lunch program,” but because you’re eating-in, you’re saving your money from being spent on going out to eat or cafeteria food. <—your wallet will thank you (as well as your significant other!)

  3. Improve your relationship with the mailman. Look, typically the mail comes around lunch time (at least where I am). If it does for you as well, then there’s nothing wrong with taking your lunch break outside and waiting for the mail to show up. Save them a trip to navigating to your mailbox in between the crowded cars parked on your street. Say “hello”, tell them to have a good day. <—your postal person will thank you.

  4. Better home safety! Most people spend their days at work, away from home. Thievery types know this. Your home is an easy target when you’re away. By teleworking, you’re spending more time at home and therefore less of a chance for someone to break in. Of course, you’ve always got the determined thief that will try anything regardless of who’s home…but being present does ward off some idiots. <—your insurance company will thank you!

  5. You get more done! Whether your realize it or not, the continuous flurry of activity at your physical office, sporadic conversations, overhearing of comments, etc all lead to a drain in the amount of work you can accomplish. This isn’t to say that having social interactions is bad for you. But when you’re at work and you’re tasked with a project (err, several projects), having some dedicated piece and quiet is always a boost to your productivity. <—your boss will thank you!

  6. It’s always quiet time. Number 4 leads me to this one. With no distractions at home while you’re teleworking, you can accomplish much more. If you’re married and have kids in school, you’ll know that your spouse will probably want some “quite time” of their own b/c they’ve worked a long day. For me, my wife is a teacher and spends her entire day with kids…there’s nothing more she likes then to come home and relax. That’s hard to do when you have kids of your own. So, once Daddy (that’s me) gets off work and the kids get off the bus, Mommy can relax when she comes home. <—your spouse will thank you.

  7. Everyone gets a window! For the few of you that are lucky enough to have an office with a window, you probably know that most buildings do not allow windows to be opened (security and safety concerns). But why should having an open window only be for those people who work in a building? If you telework, you can always choose to open your windows, let in the fresh air (*breathe in…ahhhh*), have daylight kiss your skin, and not be blinded for those few seconds when you exit the building looking like a vampire exposed to the daylight. <—your sanity, skin, lungs, and life will thank you!

    All of you teleworkers, telework managers, and folks interested in telework – check out GovLoop’s Teleworkers and Telework Managers group. And use our Telework Calculator to find out how much you could save by teleworking.

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Scott Horvath

@GovLoop, yeah can’t beat that as a benefit!

Another one to add is:

Less laundry loads. When you’re teleworking from home, your wardrobe is primarily composed of shorts and t-shirts (at least during warmer weather). These things have much less fabric in them and are typically lighter weight than a business suite, jeans, polos, etc. That means you can stuff more clothes into one load of laundry than you previously. This means less washing, less water usage, and less stress! <—your wallet will thank you (and so will the environment)

Molly Moran

I think #7 (the window) is actually very important. I envision a future point at which we will decide it’s unhealthy and unfair to force people to work in dark, stale spaces. Employers who cannot provide fresh air and sunlight to their employees will have to allow them to choose a healthier environment (e.g. their homes). I for one truly need the sunlight (esp. in winter months) to stay happy and sane, but I work in an inner office without a window. That means that during the winter months, it’s dark when I come to work and dark when I leave work. I don’t see sunlight except for weekends. Not ok.

Now let’s put this nugget in the GovLoop time capsule so that several years from now I can dance around and chant, “I told you so.” Either that or sit in the dark and stew. 🙂

Andrew Krzmarzick

Another one: Exercise more. I find that I can get out for a quick jog a whole lot easier in the middle of the day. In fact, it’s looking pretty nice out there right now…

Christy Johnson-Hughes

More time with the family dog! When I telework, I take a quick break by throwing the ball for our dog in the backyard. It gets my blood flowing again and thrills the pants off my dog. Your dog will thank you.

Luigi Long

I know I’m being picky, as the content of the post is interesting and useful, but there are only seven, and the author mentions that he was sharing the top ten?

Candace Riddle

I agree with savings on lunch, and definitely the window!!! One thing that I’ve found since teleworking 100% of the time for 2 years now, is that you have to be careful of the increased production. Yes, less distractions equal more getting done…which is awesome. However, when I first started teleworking I started to become really stressed because I wouldn’t force myself to take a coffee break or walk away from my computer for a minute. If you’re not conscious of this, your quality of work may actually suffer. Another thing I’ve learned to do to stay connected to folks in the home office, is to take a few minutes each week to just dial different folks and chat about life not work. It sounds silly, but it keeps that human connection alive and then when you do need to call them and talk work they are more receptive.
For me, the silence of the home space can get a bit lonely. I’m a social person and a single mom. The flexibility and savings on child care is amazing (as in 6k-20k a year) amazing. However the isolation makes me buggy. I try to overcome this by hitting the local coffee shop a few times a week. I take my headphones and lap top and go to work. Just being around humanity again gives me a bit more sanity.
Overall though, the benefits of working from home and the flexibility are absolutely what has kept me with my company!

Spencer W. Clark

I love having a corner office with a door & windows two days a week (a far cry from my windowless cube)! And my wife loves having me “home” for lunch and the moment I’m done with work, rather than an hour later.

That extra hour of sleep is a big benefit, especially with kids when there’s never enough, but there are hidden costs to consider as well:

-Since I bike to the office and prioritize that hour of sleep on telework days over getting up at the same time and biking in lieu of commute, I actually get less exercise.

-I sometimes take the bus & metro in, which gives me time read more news or listen to podcasts. The Economist gets less attention when I telework (or bike).

-I telework on Fridays, so I miss the farmers market by my work, and the interaction with my favorite french baker who used to supply me with goodies weekly.

Eric Koch

Good stuff Scott, like you, I’ve only been doing it for a few months now where I work from home a few days a week, but it is nice! I also like what Andrew said with more exercise. I have been going to the gym 4-5 times per week now. Before, I’d be lucky to get in 1-2 times since I was so tired from the commute. Thanks for posting.

Luigi Long

@Andrew, you’re quite right – I certainly did not wish to dis the good information provided in the post, but was more curious as to what happened to the other three, and perhaps they had simply not made it there! During the five months that I did telecomuting work, was that I could do my share of the housework during the day, forcing me to take breaks from the computer at regular intervals; living in W.Va., the biggest reason, other than financial benefits, was that I didn’t have to negotiate the snow and ice on the freeways – contending with all the truck drivers thinking that they’re piloting the Space Shuttle or something!

Scott Horvath

@Molly: Yeah, I can see that happening at some point. But I’m sure there will be a study that has to come out, first, which shows lifespan shortening because of less sunlight during the day that you’re exposed to before that argument becomes feasible 🙂

Scott Horvath

@Luigi – You’re right! Totally messed up there. I’ve updated it to be Top 7. I started off with what I thought were 10 (in my head) and then realized that I had some overlap. So, fixed. Thanks

Scott Horvath

@Wendy: Thanks!

@Candace, @Spencer, @Eric: Getting exercise and getting social time is important. I like the idea of heading off to the local coffee shop for some social gatherings around you…although, even if you’re getting a Venti Skim Mocha you’re still packing on additional calories so perhaps the coffee shop isn’t the best place to go 🙂

As far as exercise, I’m already pretty good about working out on a regular basis…so as far as that I’m good. But others don’t workout all the time. So, I’d say that getting up and taking a walk outside for 5 or 10 minutes several times a day would be good. In fact this isn’t any different than if you’re at work in a physical office space…you should still get up and walk around to loosen your body, rest your eyes, etc.