A new study revealed sobering statistics about commuting while pregnant. In the study, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Lehigh University found that women who commute by car 50 or more miles each way may be at a "much greater risk" of having low-birth-weight babies and fetuses with intrauterine growth restriction, as The New York Times recently reported. Furthermore, the probabilities of low birth weight and intrauterine growth restriction rise 0.9 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively, for every 10 miles of distance added to a lengthy commute.
It's statistics like these that make location-based modifications to the workday seem less like a "benefit" and more like an imperative. Pregnant workers can avoid commutes by working remotely full-time—we call that flexibility type Remote—or part of the time—which we call DeskPlus and which ranks as the most in-demand flexibility type.
The researchers in this new study didn't pinpoint the cause of the adverse outcomes, but they did find that pregnant women with long commutes were more likely to miss doctor appointments and postpone medical treatment. In fact, 15 percent of these women skipped their first prenatal checkup or delayed it until, in some cases, their third trimester. For these women, time-based modifications to the workday could also prove invaluable. MicroAgility, for instance, allows workers to pause their workdays for one- to three-hour increments to attend to personal matters. For pregnant workers, MicroAgility could allow them to visit doctors for prenatal care during the workday while still getting their work done.
But long commutes aren't just hazardous to pregnant workers. A previous study, conducted by researchers from Washington University in St. Louis, analyzed the health and commutes of more than 4,000 adults in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and found that longer commutes were associated with higher body-mass indices, higher blood pressure, and other heart disease risk factors, according to Prevention. Other research, per TIME, shows that commuting is associated with an increase in blood sugar, cholesterol, anxiety, and depression risk, and a decrease in happiness and life satisfaction.
Plus, enabling more remote work doesn't just improve employee health, it also mitigates the congestion on roadways and mass transit—which, in turn, helps save the environment. Add in the fact that many workers find their best focus and max their productivity working remotely, and the case for flexibility in the workplace couldn't be more convincing.