When managing any team, remote or not, one of your primary concerns as a manager is making sure your team can be as productive as possible by mitigating any risks that might affect their work. So when you’re considering remote work options, you might be worried about the possible impact on productivity.
The good news, however, is that remote work can actually have a positive influence on productivity in many ways. In this article, we’ll focus on one in particular and look into the reasons that remote work can help keep your team more healthy and productive at the same time.
Everything starts with a good night’s rest
According to neuroscience professor Matthew Walker in his book “Why We Sleep“, not everyone’s natural sleep rhythm is the same. About 40% of the people are morning types, while 30% are evening types. The remaining 30% lie somewhere in between, with a slight leaning towards the evening type. These types are hardwired in our DNA since it was useful from an evolutionary perspective to have some people sleep at different moments to keep the tribe protected during the night.
In modern-day society, however, so-called “night owls” are often forced to adapt to an unnatural 9-5 workday rhythm. In the short term, this has an impact on job performance for morning hours, because their brain will partially stay in a sleep-like state for some time even though they are technically awake.
But what’s worse, in the long run, night owls are often chronically sleep-deprived because they have a natural tendency to not fall asleep until late in the evening and are forced to wake up early again to go to work. This lack of sleep can lead to higher rates of depression, anxiety, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and even cancer.
By offering remote work, you can remove commute time from your team’s schedule and give them greater control over their own time, which will make it possible for them to more easily adapt their working hours to their natural rhythm. This can prevent these health risks and at the same time improve their day-to-day productivity.
Taste is subjective
At madewithlove, we have team members with a wide variety of dietary preferences. Some prefer intermittent fasting, while others prefer to start the day with a healthy breakfast. Some are vegetarian or vegan; others prefer a keto diet. Specific food allergies are also not uncommon.
As more people discover what types of food work best for them, it can be hard to cater to all of these diets in an office space. We try our best for our Monday lunches at our Leuven office, but even then not everyone can be accommodated every time.
In theory, everyone could bring their own personalized lunch from home, but with a long commute in the morning, most people would probably just grab a quick sandwich or other processed food from a shop nearby for convenience.
By allowing everyone to work from home, every team member gets the option to take some more time to prepare a healthy lunch with the food that they already have in their homes and is best suited to their needs.
Promoting physical activity
Sitting at a desk for an extended period of time has been shown to have numerous health risks. With the flexibility that comes with remote work, employees will be much more likely to take short breaks in between work to run errands or go for a short walk while it’s still sunny outside, improving their vitamin D intake at the same time.
These breaks do not have to be unproductive or detrimental to work either. Oftentimes when you’re stuck on a specific task, it can help to do something else instead for a short while so your brain can subconsciously think of solutions while doing unrelated tasks or taking a walk.
Reducing sick days
Working remotely can reduce the overall amount of sick days taken in your team in multiple ways.
First off, there are fewer germs going around when working from home, so this correlates to less chance of contagious diseases, like the flu, spreading across team members.
For people with chronic diseases, working remotely can drastically reduce the number of sick days they have to take because they can deal with their symptoms from the comfort of their own homes and adapt their work planning to suit their needs.
Last but not least, people that are just feeling off on a given day will be less likely to take a sick day if they can just spend an hour longer in bed and start working a bit later than usual or work a bit less that day and make up for the time lost on another day.
Avoiding hearing loss and improving focus at the same time
Most offices these days have an open office layout, with little to no privacy and noise control. As a result, most people working in these environments use headphones and earbuds to listen to music and drown out external distractions.
While this can be perfectly safe at lower volume levels, most people have a tendency to increase volumes to dangerous levels if there is a lot of noise in their surroundings. In fact, according to a 2011 study, prolonged use of headphones at such levels can cause ear damage and hearing loss.
Employees working from home, however, have much more control over the noise in their surroundings. Barring any major construction sites outside their window, most people should be able to work just fine without headphones when they don’t have noisy coworkers nearby. This drastically reduces the associated health risks, while at the same time improving their focus.
One of the myths often heard about remote work is that it could hinder productivity, but as we just saw nothing could be more wrong. While remote work can not only improve productivity on its own, it can also improve the overall well-being of your team, thus guaranteeing a stable level of productivity in the long run.