Hybrid working: A game-changer for employee health and wellness?
Hybrid working is leading to a healthier workforce, as employees get more time to dedicate to exercise, sleep, and healthy eating, reveals a new study by flexible workspace operator IWG. But the benefits do not stop there only.
The time saved by reduced commuting has led to multiple health and wellbeing benefits including weight loss, better cooking habits, improved mental health, and a longer night’s sleep, reveals the research conducted among more than 2,000 hybrid workers.
The average hybrid worker is now getting 4.7 hours of exercise a week, compared to 3.4 hours before the pandemic, with the most common forms of exercise being walking, running, and strength training.
They are also sleeping longer, with the additional time in bed each morning equating to 71 extra hours – or three days - of sleep a year.
Eating habits have also dramatically improved. Seventy per cent of respondents said hybrid working gives them the time to prepare a healthy breakfast every day, while more than half (54 per cent) have more time to spend cooking nutritious meals during the week.
Workers are eating more fresh fruit and vegetables (46 per cent and 44 per cent, respectively), and one-fifth (20 per cent) are eating more fish. A quarter has also cut their intake of sweets since pre-2020 as well.
More exercise, better sleep, and healthier eating has, unsurprisingly, led to more than a quarter (27 per cent) of workers saying they’ve lost weight since the start of the pandemic.
Two in five (42 per cent) have lost between 5 and 9.9 kg, while a remarkable 23 per cent have lost more than 10 kg.
The biggest drivers of weight loss have been increased time for exercise (65 per cent) and more time to cook healthy meals (54 per cent).
Dr Sara Kayat, a passionate advocate of the benefits of an active and healthy lifestyle, believes hybrid working can free up time for employees to devote to this purpose.
“There is no doubt that hybrid working has facilitated some major health benefits. A balanced diet, physical activity, and good quality sleep are the bedrock of a healthy lifestyle, and this data suggests that each is more widespread due to the extra time afforded by a hybrid working model,” she says.
“Stress management and social connections are also incredibly important to mental wellbeing. A healthy work/life balance is essential to achieving these, allowing people to work closer to home and make more time for family, friends, and stress-busting hobbies.”
Hybrid working has seen increasing numbers of office workers splitting their time between home, a local workspace, and city centre HQ, dramatically, reducing their commutes in the process and enabling them to save several hours a day.
Hybrid working is also delivering productivity gains. Almost four in five (79 per cent) say they have been more productive since pre-2020 as a result of less work-related stress (47 per cent) and having more time to relax and unwind after work (46 per cent).
As per research by Nicholas Bloom, an economist at Stanford Graduate School of Business, overall productivity is up 3 per cent to 4 per cent due to hybrid working, showing a tangible benefit for both businesses and staff.
With increased productivity at work and more free time outside of work, it is no surprise that two-thirds (66 per cent) feel that their mental health is good as a result of the shift to hybrid working. 81 per cent say they feel they have had additional personal time compared to pre-2020 and the majority spend this time promoting their health and wellbeing by spending time with family and friends (55 per cent) and exercising (52 per cent) or taking a short walk during the day (67 per cent), all of which have a positive knock-on effect on mental health.
“This study confirms what we have been seeing for a while now – how hybrid working is building and maintaining a healthier and happier workforce by reducing the need for long daily commutes. Offering hybrid working is such an important and easy way for businesses to put their employees first by freeing up their time and giving them greater control over their schedules. Organisations that have adopted hybrid working are not only seeing healthier and happier workforces but more engaged and productive teams,” says Mark Dixon, CEO of IWG.
Harsh Lambah, Country Manager, India Vice President Sales – South Asia, IWG terms hybrid working a game-changer for employee health and wellness.
“A flexible and collaborative work environment can better support the physical and mental wellness of employees. By minimising commute times, fostering social connections, and offering access to various amenities, hybrid work enables employees to make better use of their time, improve productivity and prioritise their well-being, without compromising professional output. And that it's good for the environment is also something that resonates strongly with both enterprises and employees. Organisations that have adopted hybrid working are not only seeing healthier and happier workforces but more engaged and productive teams," he says.