The nature of work is changing, and many employees are flocking from their bed to their desk in the next room to start the day. Here are 10 reasons knowledge workers choose to work from home:
1. Productivity. It's hard to get work done in an office (ironic, right?). While meetings and interruptions to catch up around the water-cooler can seem like good-natured distractions or even necessary for the job, too many can make it difficult to get anything done. Not to mention that overheard conversations and meetings that go far too long can be intrusive and annoying. While building culture and camaraderie is great, many workers prefer the at-home time to complete a project and the tasks on their to-do list.
2. Comfort. Home offices are more comfortable, plain and simple. You can shift positions, get up and sit on the couch, stand, pace, throw your legs up, go for a walk and otherwise do whatever works. Sitting is killing us, literally; according to a Lifehack.org infographic, sitting six-plus hours a day makes you 40 percent likelier to die within 15 years than someone who sits less than three hours. This is the case even if you exercise. We are just not made to sit eight hours a day, and when you work from home, there are no formalities or expectations that you have to do so.
3. Commutes. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's annual American Community Survey in 2011, the average commute is 25.5 minutes. There's no worse way to start and end a day than navigating through traffic or throngs of people in the subway. Working from home means employees get to start and end their day with sanity and peace, and remote workers get more hours per week to devote to their tasks and responsibilities.
4. Open offices. According to the International Management Facility Association, 70 percent of American employees work in open-plan offices. But further studies show that no one really likes it. The digital native news outlet Quartz reports workers in open-plan offices get sick more often (due to a lack of privacy and stress), are irritated by noises from conversations, ringing phones and machines and are less productive due to reduced motivation and decreased job satisfaction. At home, workers often get the privacy they desire, and can actually focus on a job well done.
5. Rhythm. Some people are early-risers, while others are night owls. While telecommuting doesn't mean you can shove off your company's schedule entirely, it does give you more flexibility to work within your own natural rhythm. Want to get up early? Go ahead. Take a break at 3 p.m.? No one's watching. Flash of inspiration at 9 p.m.? No worries; because you didn't have a commute, you were able to spend quality time with your family earlier in the night.
6. Food. No longer is a sad sandwich or overpriced bistro meal all you have to eat for lunch. With full access to your kitchen, you can cook and prepare real dishes for your mid-day meals, and snack without judgment. Besides saving money, this is often a healthier option than eating out or gorging on vending machine food when you need an afternoon slump pick-me-up. Plus, you can eat at your own pace since you're not competing to return back to work.
7. Exercise. Not going into the office means you can exercise in the middle of the day and not have to worry about how you will take a shower. It means not having to carry your workout clothes, hair dryer and full makeup kit to the office. It means not having to realize too late that you left your extra socks and underwear on your dresser. And it means taking care of yourself on a schedule that works for you.
8. Space. We spend more time with colleagues than we do with those we love, so unless we really, really like our co-workers, it's important to have time apart. Working from home restores balance, both at work and at home. Not only that, but space to ourselves to contemplate and restore our work intentions and motivations is never a bad thing. Nor is escaping the weird clucking sounds your cubicle mate makes while typing.
9. Creativity. Being around greenery, pets and all sorts of good things that aren't part of your cold, office environment does wonders for your creativity. Even if you work in a hip workspace, a change of pace often helps stir ideas and inspiration. You can take your computer outside, blast music to fill the walls of your apartment, or step away to meditate. You'll feel rejuvenated and carry a fresh perspective to the office the next day.
10. Money. When you don't go into the office, you don't have to buy gas, or spend money on the subway. You might not even have to own a car any longer. You don't have to eat out, and you don't have to purchase as many professional clothes or spend as much on dry cleaning. All of these work-related items add up and mean more cash to put toward an emergency fund, your house and kids, and of course more money to fund the account that will someday mean you don't have to work any longer - retirement.
Rebecca Thorman's weekly blog Kontrary offers tips to create the career, bank account, and life you love, and is a popular destination for young professionals. Her goal is to help you find meaningful work, enjoy the heck out of it, and earn more money. She writes from Washington, D.C.