Author Bio: Jennifer Parris once tackled a daily four-hour commute. Now, as a contributing writer for 1 Million for Work Flexibility and the career writer for FlexJobs, she commutes to the corner office (in her house, that is) in under 60 seconds.
If you took a group of people and asked how many of them wanted flexibility in their work, there’s a good chance most hands would go up. And if you asked the same people why they wanted that flexibility, there’s an even bigger chance that the answers you’d get would be as varied as the people themselves. But no matter what the reason is for wanting work flexibility, there’s one communal thread that runs through it all, and it’s this: flexible work is so good for us. Here’s why.
If you really want something done and done well, then your best bet is to make sure it’s done outside of an office and outside of the 9-5 grind. Countless studies have shown that productivity soars when work is done remotely, and when people have control over their own time. Thanks to endless meetings and constant interruptions from coworkers and bosses alike, the office can be one of the hardest places to get work done. Having choice over where to work can mean fewer distractions and better control over a work environment. And having choice over when to work means being able to work at peak performance times, not just when someone else says so.
Let’s face it: the cubicle life isn’t the most conducive to good health. People with sitting jobs have twice the rate of cardiovascular disease as people with standing jobs, and they’re 54 percent more likely to die of a heart attack. When workers have the freedom to choose their own hours and decide where to work, they have more chances of fitting health into their daily schedule. From hitting the gym to going for a run or even taking their pooch for a walk, workers with flexibility can make their health a priority.
And for those managing a disability or battling serious illnesses such as cancer, work flexibility is critical, since it allows people to take care of their health properly by going to all of their necessary medical appointments, without worrying about taking time off or losing out on income. For those who need the comfort of routine in their lives as they battle critical health issues, being able to focus on work when they’re feeling at their best can mean that they feel less stress during tough medical times.
Freedom to Explore
Working remotely doesn’t have to mean working from home. It also doesn’t have to mean working from a coffee shop down the street. Instead, being able to choose where you work means you can opt to work from your home office one day, and from the beach another — even if that beach is in another city, state, or country. Digital nomads take their work on the road, often to far-flung parts of the world. That brings a lot more fun and excitement into the work day, and also opens up opportunities for new and different creative influences.
When people need to care for a young child or an aging parent, are part of a military family on the move, or are facing any other number of reasons in which they need to spend critical time with more focus on their personal lives, they may feel they are faced with no choice but to step away from their careers. Flexible work, however, gives them the opportunity to continue on in their careers without having to take extended unpaid time off—or worse, stop working altogether—due to whatever personal issues they need to attend to in their lives.
While flexible work tends to be associated more with tech-savvy younger generations, flexible work is actually a good fit for workers of all ages. By the year 2020, an estimated 1 billion people on the planet will be aged 60 and over. Thing is, many older workers want—and often need—to continue working, and flexibility is the key to making that a reality. Older workers have specialized skills honed over many years in their careers that make them a tremendous asset. But they also want to work when it makes sense for them. Flexible work allows older workers the chance to continue working—but on their terms.
Flexible work is one of the best ways to achieve work-life balance. A study funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Changing Work and Work-Family Conflict: Evidence from the Work, Family, and Health Network” found that 70 percent of workers reported struggling with balancing work life and family life. But when workers have control over their schedules, finding the right fit becomes much more possible. Flexible work reduces family conflict and allows workers the ability to juggle their careers and their home life in the way that makes the most sense for them.
There’s no doubt about it: flex feels good. If you agree, we encourage you to join the 1 Million for Work Flexibility movement to help show your support for work designed for the modern workforce, and help us get closer to making work flexibility the norm.
Like the article above? Hear even more about 1 Million for Work Flexibility in this week’s podcast!