In most countries physical wellness is mandatory in the workplace; things have changed since children were considered the best candidates for chimney cleaning. Ignoring the physical well-being of employees has no place in modern business. Likewise, the mental and emotional well-being of employees is now taken almost as seriously. Time taken off for stress equated to 12.5 million days in the UK in 2017, the single biggest reason for taking time off. The more time lost, the more businesses find it makes sense to build wellness in rather than pay the stress related consequences.
The next logical step is proactively building wellness into workplaces, and thereby into workforce’s. This includes identifying the causes of stress and addressing them prior to them becoming an issue.
Travel to work is a major cause of stress; one way this is being addressed is by remote working. Peer to peer business loans lender Rebuilding Society says “We have an almost totally flexible attitude to workplace attendance. The important thing is the work getting done, not where the workforce are based. With this in mind our team of freelancers and remote workers are relived of the stress of travelling to and from work every day, and with the time saved, which equates to several hours a day, they are able to use as family time, or going to the gym, or relaxing, or other activities. This remote working practice creates a far lower level of stress for all the workforce.”
Indeed, that really does seem to make a huge difference. Even a modest commute of an hour each way gives ten hours a week of sitting in traffic or public transport. Ten hours that the employees aren’t even being paid for. Swopping those ten hours for time better spent is inevitably going to reduce stress levels dramatically. Remote working enables the employees or freelancers to create their own working environment, be that a kitchen table, a co working space, a coffee shop, or wherever they feel most comfortable and productive that day. Obviously not everyone can remotely work, at least not all of the time, nurses, teachers, police officers, and people in the service industries tend to need to be physically present in order to do their jobs. However, very many more jobs are capable of being done remotely than currently are.
Many jobs in banking, IT development, in fact most jobs that are done via a computer are fundamentally flexible in terms of geographic location. There are some security issues, as ever, but generally speaking the more computer based a role, the more suitable it is to give the employees the freedom to do it from a non office based position. If a person can do their job on a desktop, they can do it on a laptop, it they can do it on a laptop in the office, they can do in on a laptop in the coffee shop next door, or a home office, or a beach.
I remember an amusing story from about ten years ago. A remote worker in the UK outsourced their entire job to a freelancer in India, paying them a quarter of his annual wage. He did get sacked, eventually, when the company found out after several years. Not for underperforming, the Indian chap was doing very well, but ultimately it did mean the companies IT security was somewhat exposed.
At least everyone showed initiative.