Posted on: December 29, 2019 at 7:00 pm
Last updated: July 13, 2020 at 5:32 pm

Freelancers, entrepreneurs, and anyone who works from a home office brace themselves every family event for the inevitable question: “When will you get a real job?” Many people, grandma and that nosy uncle included, associate work with a commute to a more corporate-looking location. How can it be work if there’s no suit or office building?

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In response, Owl Labs made a report titled “State of Remote Work” that surveyed 1,202 full-time workers in the U.S. between the ages of 22 and 65. Of all the participants, 62% work remotely in some capacity; 48% work remotely once a week, and 30% work remotely full-time. While comparing these findings to last year’s report, the researchers found that Americans work remotely full-time 66% more often than anywhere else in the world. [1]

Although the desirability of working from home in pajamas is clear, is it productive and good for one’s health?

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The Benefits of Working from Home, According to Science

The Owl Labs study is a perfect deflection for those remote workers being hassled about “getting a real job” from well-meaning (and jealous) people. Some highlights from the study include:

  • 26% of remote workers stated they make over $100,000, as opposed to the 8% of on-site workers, and 7% of remote workers make less than $25,000, compared to 10% of on-site workers.
  • 83% of the participants (workers from home and offices) claimed that working from home makes them happier.
  • 81% of all participants said the ability to work from home would help them deal with work and life conflicts.
  • People who worked full-time at home were happy with their jobs 22% more often than on-site workers.

Overall, the study found that people who worked from home, even in a small capacity, tended to make more money and feel more satisfaction in their positions.

However, almost anyone who enjoys the benefits of working from home could have predicted these findings. If this is still not convincing, here are more studies:

In 2007, the American Psychologist Association completed a 20-year study and stated, “it’s a win-win for employees and employers, resulting in higher morale and job satisfaction and lower employee stress and turnover.” [2]

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In 2010, Brigham Young University finished a study and found that people with “a flexible schedule and the option to telecommute can work 19 hours more per week before experiencing conflict between work and personal life.” [3]

Later that year, a study from the University of Wisconsin found that “employees who telecommute the majority of the workweek are more satisfied with their jobs compared to those working mostly in the office because working remotely alleviates more stress than it creates.” [4]

It isn’t all gravy though. Other studies have found that telecommuters work more unpaid hours than those who punch in and out of office buildings. Researchers have also found that working remotely blurs the lines between work and home life. The good news is these issues can be remedied.

How to Balance Work/Home Life for Telecommuters

It’s easy to work longer and harder when the home is also the office. Many times, people will “quickly” respond to an email, “just finish this one thing,” or try to get ahead for the next day. Next thing they know, they have neglected chores and quality family time without any monetary compensation to show for it.

Create a work schedule

Those who commute to work have a clear home and work boundary. Work begins when they step into the office; work ends when they clock out. It may be helpful for remote workers to set a similar schedule. It doesn’t have to be 9–5 — after all, the beauty of working from home is choosing work hours — but be strict when the time to stop comes. There’s no “I’ll just finishing this thing.” The workday is over. Clock out. 

Take Breaks

People who work in offices have breaks built into their schedule, a short breather in the morning and afternoon, and longer one for lunch. Bring the same routine to the home office. Walk around periodically, take coffee breaks, and take a real lunch break away from the computer. Occasionally go out with friends for lunch to incorporate the healthiness of social interaction found at an on-site job.

Designate the Office

If there’s a spare room, feel free to turn it into a productive workspace. For those who don’t have much extra room, designate one particular location for work, like a corner in the living room or a specific chair at the dining room table. Choose a place and stick to it. Sitting there means it’s time to work; anywhere else means it’s time for home life.

Set Boundaries

For some reason, friends assume working from home is equal to being constantly available. They wouldn’t call someone to come home from the office to babysit or do some other favor, and they won’t expect them to drop everything so they can vent over the phone for an hour. 

Some telecommuters may have no issue saying “I can’t. I’m working now.” For those who struggle with these requests, remember that the boundary between home and work life goes both ways. Explain to family members and friends “I work for these and these hours. Unless it’s an emergency, please respect my work schedule.” [5]

Working from home can be beneficial for a person’s financial, mental, and physical wellbeing with the right boundaries in place, with an emphasis on boundaries. People new to freelance or other kinds of remote positions may push themselves past their limits and burn out. Remember that they are their own bosses and they should treat themselves the way a good boss would. And that could mean every day is pajama day.

  1. Kate Lister, Global Workplace Analytics. State of Remote Work 2019. Owl Labs. https://www.owllabs.com/state-of-remote-work/2019 September 2019
  2. Ravi S. Gajendran, David A. Harrison. Telecommuting has mostly positive consequences for employees and employers. American Psychological Association. Science Daily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071119182930.htm November 20, 2007
  3. Brigham Young University. Telecommuters with flextime stay balanced up to 19 hours longer. Science Daily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100602121214.htm July 13, 2010
  4. University of Wisconsin. Teleworkers more satisfied than office-based employees. Science Daily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101115111118.htm December 10, 2010
  5. Tina Miller. Baker College, USA. HOW TELECOMMUTERS BALANCE WORK AND THEIR PERSONAL LIVES. Research Gate.  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/316107871_HOW_TELECOMMUTERS_BALANCE_WORK_AND_THEIR_PERSONAL_LIVES 2016
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Sarah Schafer
Founder of The Creative Palate
Sarah is a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. She believes that food is the best method of healing and a classic way of bringing people together. In her spare time, Sarah does yoga, reads cookbooks, writes stories, and finds ways to make any type of food in her blender. Her blog The Creative Palate shares the nutrition and imagination of her recipes for others embarking on their journey to wellbeing.

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