Nearly 5M Californians healthier working from home over commuting: study

Over 4.7 million Californians who previously commuted over an hour per day before the pandemic are now working from home and living healthier lives, according to a new study. 

1AND1 Life, a mental health and wellness performance company, analyzed data from County Health Rankings, and calculated how many workers in each state have reduced their risk of developing mental and physical problems, such as obesity, high blood pressure, stress and fatigue, by choosing to work remotely instead.

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A survey of 1,000 employees by 1AND1 Life revealed that more than half (58%) said the biggest benefit of not having to commute to work is being able to spend more time with family, while 20% said they’re getting more hours of sleep each night.

Another 14% said they now have more time to get household chores done before the day starts when there’s no work commute involved. Additionally, nearly 1 in 10 love being able to have a regular workout in the morning.

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A recent study by Swiss economists further revealed that long commutes destroy happiness. 

Subsequent research shows that long commutes can have significant effects on people’s physical health too. Long commute times are linked to factors like insufficient physical activity, and poor sleep habits. As our post-pandemic world has seen a shift in employees moving to remote work or a hybrid model, it appears millions of workers across the country are reaping the mental and physical health benefits of no longer having to commute.

What do people do with all this extra time? 

According to the study, 46% of respondents say they use this extra time of not having to travel, to sleep in a bit longer, while 20% spend it making a healthy breakfast before work. 17% do housework during this time and another 17% get in their daily workout.

Now does anyone out there actually miss commuting? Data revealed nearly 1 in 5 (18%) respondents said they actually miss commuting long distances to and from work. Nearly half (45%) of those who still have long commutes said weight gain concerns them, given that studies show a direct link between these two lifestyle factors. 

The number of people working remotely is clearly growing because so many companies learned they could do it during the pandemic. The Society for Human Resource Management estimates the number of totally remote U.S. workers will double to roughly 36 million people by 2025.

Another survey done last year by CBRE Group, the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm, showed that 87% of large companies planned to use a hybrid schedule after the pandemic, with workers in the office part of the time.

So far, businesses have been slow to bring employees back. An average of 36.8% of the workforce was back in offices during the fourth week of February in 10 major U.S. cities monitored by Kastle Systems, which tracks building access-card swipes. That number has been creeping up since early January when it fell as low as 23% during the omicron surge.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.