What if I told you I could take away 25 percent of your stress, even just for one day?

It sounds pretty out there, especially when you consider the looming workload sitting on your desk like the ghost of workweeks past.

You’d be surprised to learn that a recent Gallup survey showed employees who are able to choose when to work in the office and when to work at home are 25 percent less stressed than those who follow the traditional 40-hour workweek.

When you hold a leadership position, your mind probably tunes this out. How are you supposed to put out fires if you’re working 20 miles away? With all the advancements in connectedness and communication tools, a flexible job and the chance to choose when to work at home may actually be an option for you.

We aren’t talking about the sweat pants, avocado toast, catching up on Netflix vacation from the office that many folks dream of. This is the reality of the modern office, a chance to find an environment that boosts your productivity. Learn the breakdown of how a flexible job can encourage your team and improve your work.

Deciding when to work at home isn’t just for freelancers anymore. 

When to Work From Home: By the Numbers

In the Gallup survey, we found out that 43 percent of employed Americans said they had spent some time working remotely in 2016—that’s almost half the workforce. Creating a flexible environment can be the deal breaker for a lot of people who value a strong work life balance.

When you have a hectic mid-management schedule, the opportunity of choosing when to work from home feels unattainable. However, there may be some evidence to show that working outside of the office can actually strengthen your relationships with your team.

Employees who spend 60 to 80 percent of their time out of the office—with the ability to choose when to work from home, a coffee shop or their desk—were ranked as the most engaged in their job. Even though they spent time away from their managers, they felt cared for and encouraged to develop. The effort it takes to reach out to these employees made them feel that they could talk about their progress and find room to grow in their job.

Some of these all-star employees even mentioned that they felt like they had a best friend at work (You can’t buy that kind of team building.). If the relationships are so strong for the employees who choose when to work at home, why can’t you make that dynamic work in reverse?

What About the Distractions?

The fear of anyone who’s considering when to work at home is the distractions. You’ve got the pile of laundry that begs to be folded, the sink of dishes needing to be rinsed and a fresh layer of snow that needs to be removed before someone slips.

But when you pause to think it through, you’d be impressed by how these minor disturbances compare to the ones you face at work. There are the unnecessary phone calls, extended lunches, questions, conversations and Ping-Pong tournaments that now seem custom in the modern office.

The peace of your humble abode may launch you into a productive mindset that you haven’t experienced since that last all-nighter in college. If you’ve got an important deadline to meet, working remotely may mean a quality level that you’ve never reached before.

Tools You Need to Be Successful

Just like standing desks, choosing when to work in the office isn’t for everyone. But if you’re ready to take the leap, strengthen your team and increase your focus, you need to prepare. A plumber doesn’t go anywhere without his trusted toolbox. Keep yours full of everything you need:

  • Good internet: As silly as it sounds, a good internet connection can be hard to come by. Your ideal choice of when to work is at the city center Starbucks during lunch. Unfortunately your internet connection is now lagging. As a backup plan, bring a mobile hot spot.
  • Excellent headphones: It seems counterintuitive to find a quiet place to work, only to use headphones. However, many folks find that using white noise apps on their phone in conjunction with a nice set of ear buds, helps boosts their ability to focus.
  • The odds and ends: If you’ve found the perfect space in the library, you may never want to leave. Bringing chargers, adapters and extra batteries will save you from giving up your spot.

Tips for Working Outside of the Office

You’ve done it; you finally set aside a window for when to work outside of the office. You are showing your employees that you trust them to work independently, while also taking advantage of a distraction free work zone. Now comes the important part: setting yourself up for success.

First and foremost, get your ducks in a row. Write out a list that includes information about what you need to get finished. Pick a place that has an office feel to it (a desk, not a couch or a bed). Give everyone ample notice to plan for your absence.

Next, dress the part. Just because you’ve decided when to work at home, doesn’t mean should stay in your pajamas. Getting dressed will help you function at your best, regardless of where you work.

Finally, keep communication channels open with your team. This means that you need to be available on chat or over the phone to help them along with their day.

Breaking down the structures that used to dictate the workday is necessary in our world. Find a way to be a leader through your actions, instead of your presence.

If you’re looking for inspiration, check out The Manila Folder podcast.