Are Remote Workers More Likely To Live Longer?

Remote employees get more sleep and leisure time, which could be having a huge knock on effect for their health.
Jade Artry

Employees who have given up the commute for remote working are reaping the benefits of more sleep and increased leisure time, according to a new study.

One of the upshots of claiming back those precious hours is potentially an increase in physical wellbeing, with a different study released this week showing that those that aren't getting enough sleep are more likely to experience health complications.

With almost half of Americans currently working remotely in some capacity, it looks like the switch to home working could have huge health repercussions.

Remote US Workers Save 60 Million Hours Commute Time Each Day

According to Bloom, Barrero and Davis, American workers save 60 million hours each day by not commuting with a combined 45% of US employees now working hybrid or fully remote. A new study, which uses aggregated data from the Time Use Survey (ATUS), revealed that while 35% of the commute time saved is reportedly dedicated to work, more time is spent on leisure activities and sleep.

The study, conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, found that the rise in leisure was particularly notable among younger Americans, who reported spending more time at ‘social events, eating at restaurants or bars, or exercising'. Older age groups were found to allocate more time to domestic responsibilities including childcare, household repairs, and meal preparation.

The findings support the growing desire for more flexible working arrangements, with 64% of employees (in a survey of 32,000 workers) considering looking for a new job if asked to return to the office full time. The benefits of which could also impact physical health.

More Sleep Reduces Risk of Chronic Conditions by 30%

From previous studies, we know remote workers are more satisfied and optimistic about work than in-office employees, but a new study suggests that remote work could also benefit employee health, given the way in which US workers now spend their commute time.

The new medical study by PLOS Medicine, revealed that ‘those who slept five hours or less around the age of 50 had a 30% greater risk of multiple ailments than those who slept seven hours' with a higher risk of death due to an increased risk of chronic illness, meaning that those who sleep more have a reduced risk of chronic illness, and a higher chance of living longer.

Lack of sufficient sleep, according to sleep expert and neurologist, Dr Matthew Walker, can also lead to a number of work-related issues including a collapse in concentration, decrease in reaction time, and low-performance ability.

Lack of sleep could also have an impact on your business. In a study published in the Nashville Business Journal, Edmonson and Matthews found that more sleep dramatically increases an employee’s grit and decreases turnover intention. Sleep expert Dr Walker also claims sufficient sleep ‘helps improve our abilities to learn, memorize, make choices and decisions'.

Given that ‘two-thirds of adults throughout all developed nations fail to obtain the recommended eight hours of nightly sleep', the more sleep we get, the better.

How to Improve Your Sleep

In the Harvard Business Review, Bronwyn Fryer said “A good sleep policy is smart business strategy.' Reducing the number of hours you sleep is is a fast track way to cut your productivity, but if you can improve the quality of your sleep and the number of hours you get, you'll be able to focus more, and achieve more success in your day.

Sleep expert, Dr Walker highlights that a good night’s sleep isn’t just about how many hours of sleep you get, but also the quality of that sleep. There are a number of ways you could improve the quality of your sleep, but these tips below are some of the most helpful.

  • Establish a good sleep routine
  • Remove digital devices and screens
  • Turn your phone on silent
  • Cut down on alcohol and caffeine
  • Turn down the lights
  • Set specific time aside to unwind
  • Avoid late-night cardio

If you're looking to maximize the time you save with no commute, more sleep could help improve your memory, concentration, and overall quality of life.

Is Remote Work For You?

If you enjoy working alone, communicate well, and can maintain a healthy work-life balance, remote work may be something you want to consider.

Fortunately, there are plenty of companies that offer great remote work opportunities if you do want to take the plunge. Given the potential health benefits, and practical tools like Microsoft Teams and Zoom that help hybrid employees stay seamlessly connected, you may even be at an advantage.

Remote work isn't for everyone, though. If you're someone who struggles to clock off at the end of the day, working from home could occasionally lead to burnout. Taking regular breaks is a great way to find better balance, but for some, the commute to and from work is their best way to switch off.

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Jade Artry is the Content Manager for Tech.co. A digital marketing specialist with over 12+ years experience, her passion for tech and innovation has driven from life in London to Japan. Her experience and exposure to business and emerging technologies means that she's equipped with a wealth of knowledge to help readers go from technophobe to tech pro, quicker than a cup of instant ramen.

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