The impact of flexible working on mental health

The Steer Workplace team

For some time, the possibility of flexible working has been a perk sought out by workers as they choose where to work. This has only been accelerated by the pandemic, with a report by Robert Half suggesting that a third of employees will consider quitting their jobs if they’re forced to work full time from the office.

As a company at the forefront of flexible working, and during times when many organisations decide how they manage their working practices again, we decided to investigate the research on the impact of flexible working practices on employee mental health.

Employees who do not have flexible working options are almost 2x more likely to have poor or very poor mental health.

A recent survey of over 800 employees found that 27% of employees without flexible working reported having poor or very poor mental health. This was reduced to 17% in those with flexible working options available to them.

Why might this be?

Across the board, flexible work appears to help workers maintain a lifestyle that supports mental health. For example, 20% more employees claim to stick to a healthy sleep schedule when flexible work is available, 10% more strive for a balanced diet, and 30% more respondents practice yoga!

In short, it appears that with the time saved on commuting, the increased productivity associated with flexible work, and the greater control over one’s schedule, employees can better manage a positive work-life balance.

A fully remote setup doesn’t seem to be the answer

While working outside the office allows for greater control over an employee’s time, reduced time wasted on the commute, and increases productivity, office work certainly has benefits.

When employees were forced to work 100% remotely (the pandemic), reported burnout increased by almost 20%. Furthermore, 27% of these respondents claimed the burnout was due to the lack of separation between work and life.

Having dedicated workspaces, interacting face-to-face with colleagues, and a clear separation between work and home life are definite benefits of office-based work.

Flexible or hybrid work as the solution? 

So, how do you get the best of both worlds? Unsurprisingly, we feel the answer is to employ flexible working practices. This is also the opinion of employees: 60% of employees claim to have an improved work-life balance when utilising flexible work, and only 2% want to return to a 100% office-based setup.

With a host of benefits, such as reduced office costs and more productive staff, it seems that improved employee mental health is another benefit of adopting flexible working practices. 

If you’re interested in making the management of a flexible workforce effortless, visit