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Is better love life another benefit of flexible work options?
According to a new survey, the benefits of telecommuting may go well beyond its effects on a person's work. In fact, several respondents said a flexible schedule would help their family relationships and their love lives. - photo by Greg Kratz
I'm always writing about the virtues of flexible schedules and work-life balance.

For those who can work from home, I've mentioned the advantages of avoiding the hassle of commuting, concentrating on a project with no one to interrupt you, enjoying the comfort of working in your own space and feeling better about life in general.

For companies that allow telecommuting, I've talked about the potential for saving money on office space, the increased productivity of people who have more balanced lives and the improved loyalty of those workers.

Today, at the risk of sounding like a television huckster, I'd like to say, "But wait, there's more!"

Did you know that a flexible work schedule could also improve your love life?

I promise, I'm not trying to sell you anything. I won't be asking for $9.99, plus $5.99 shipping and handling, at the end of this column.

It's just that, according to a new survey, the benefits of telecommuting may go well beyond its effects on a person's work.

FlexJobs, an online service for professionals seeking telecommuting, flexible schedule, part-time and freelance jobs, asked more than 2,000 people a variety of questions about how their work life impacts their relationships, health, stress levels, exercise frequency and other things.

More than 99 percent of respondents said that a flexible job "would make them a happier person in general and benefit their personal health," according to a FlexJobs press release about the survey.

Specifically, 91 percent of respondents thought a flexible job would help them take better care of themselves, and 90 percent thought it would lower their stress levels. Sixty-one percent said flexible work arrangements would lead them to increase the frequency of their exercise, and 89 percent said it would create more time for them to spend with family or friends.

While the more popular perks of flexible work, such as better work-life balance, reduced commute and cost savings are well-known, there are other less obvious but still significant benefits, such as improvements in health and even our love lives," said Sara Sutton Fell, founder and CEO of FlexJobs, in the press release. Happier, healthier people typically are also more productive and engaged employees, so ultimately it benefits the workplace company culture and employers bottom lines as well.

I enthusiastically agree with these survey findings. Since I changed to a more flexible job more than three years ago, I've definitely seen my stress levels go down, even as my time with family has increased.

At least, that's my take on the benefits of my new life. To get the definitive scoop on things, I decided to ask a more authoritative source: my wife.

She said she also has noticed a difference in me since I left my full-time journalism career.

"I think you have always been an amazing father and a very supportive spouse and partner," she said, generously. "What has improved is the energy you have to devote to those parts of your life and the attitude or mood with which you approach things.

"Knowing you can take a morning and work at home or leave a bit early and make up the work in the evening makes you much more relaxed about our crazy schedule. You don't worry as much, and you don't have to cram so much of your dad/husband time into the hours between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. every weeknight. I have noticed you are more playful with the kids and more patient with all of us. I think that's a combination of the two factors mentioned above."

I'm so glad she said that, because I feel the same way. It's wonderful to get home from work and have the time and energy to help with homework (even if I'm out of my depth when it comes to high school math). And I do think I'm more fun to be around, which is a big deal for someone as curmudgeonly as I tend to be.

But what about that stuff regarding a better love life? Well, the FlexJobs survey found that 84 percent of respondents said they thought having a flexible job would help them be a more attentive spouse, partner or significant other. Forty-eight percent said it would benefit their romantic relationships, while 49 percent thought it would increase time for dates. And 42 percent said it would improve their sex lives.

I thought those results were pretty amazing, even though I've never been a very romantic fellow. I can think of maybe one or two things I've done in my 25-plus year relationship with my wife that would probably qualify as seriously "romantic." So, once again, I asked her whether my more flexible schedule has helped me in this regard.

"I think you feel more energetic about dates and also that you seem to have more time to think of things like bringing flowers," she said. "And you are even more helpful than before with things like laundry and dishes, which a gal always finds sexy!"

Remember that, guys. Flowers are great, but if you really want to be romantic, doing some household chores is a sure winner!

The bottom line of all of this is that there are plenty of professional and personal reasons to be a fan of telecommuting and other flexible work arrangements. I just hope more companies continue to make these options available so they can see the benefits of employing happier, healthier employees.

And now, I think I've got some laundry to fold. What can I say? I'm a romantic.
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