While work-life balance remains the number one reason for wanting work flexibility, people also admit that having a flexible job would make them healthier and give them more time for exercise. There are a variety of ways that flexible work allows people to take better care of themselves, workout more, and even avoid the flu.
With flu season in full swing, we’re constantly reminded of the illnesses that lurk around every corner. If you’ve been trying to convince your employer to allow you to work from home, check out these statistics from Flu.gov which just might put them over the edge:
- People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away, when people with flu cough, sneeze, or talk.
- Most healthy adults can infect others one day before symptoms develop and five to seven days after symptoms appear.
- Symptoms start one to four days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.
- You can pick up the flu by touching smooth surfaces such as doorknobs, handles, conference room equipment, computer keyboards, and telephones.
That last point shows just how susceptible people who work in large offices are to contracting the flu, considering how many surfaces are shared by coworkers.
Here are four ways flexible work helps people stay healthy, during flu season and year-round.
1. Telecommuting keeps you away from sick coworkers. Just as school children are excellent at passing their germs to one another in the classroom, coworkers easily spread germs throughout the workplace. Approximately five to 20 percent of U.S. residents get the flu every year, and a whole lot of those people go to work when they’re sick. Recently, a friend of mine who called out sick from work because she had the flu was asked if she was “contagious” and if not, could she please come to work? Telecommuting can eliminate these types of management practices and keep healthy coworkers safe from sickness.
2. Working from home also helps you to keep working even when you’re sick. While the first recommendation should always be to rest and recuperate, if you’re on the mend but not fully out of your sickness yet, don’t risk going back to work and infecting others. Rather, work from home and stay productively while keeping your coworkers healthy.
3. A flexible schedule allows you to fit in exercise, visit the doctor, and do other healthy things. When we’re starting to feel run down, there often isn’t “time to go to the doctor” because we have so much going on. But having a flexible schedule at work would help encourage people to go to the doctor when they need to, rather than worrying about taking time away from their vacation or sick days. Whether it’s the flu or any other common illness, a trip to the doctor’s office is well worth the effort.
4. Work flexibility helps us maintain a healthy lifestyle, decreasing our risk of illness. From colds and flus to diabetes and high blood pressure, traditional workplaces aren’t always the best medicine. Flexible workplaces allow employees to put themselves and their health first, because flexible employers realize that a healthy employee is a productive and happy employee. By taking advantage of flexible schedules to prioritize healthy living, professionals from all industries can have more energy and feel less fatigued with food and exercise strategies that fit their schedules.
So, if you’ve been hoping for a flexible work arrangement, flu season might be the perfect time to try pitching it to your boss! Or, if you do get sick, take the opportunity to show your boss just how much telecommuting can help to keep you productive while you’re out of the office. Your coworkers and managers will appreciate your efforts to keep them healthy and stay an active part of the team!