Hybrid working makes employees happier, healthier and more productive, according to research among UK staff who divide their working week between home and the office.

Three-quarters of those who work flexibly found they felt less burnout than when they spent their whole week in the office.

Hybrid working brings a huge range of benefits for employees’ sleep, eating habits, stress levels and overall sense of wellbeing, according to a survey of 1,026 people who work that way.

Large majorities reported feeling less drained (79%), less stressed (78%) and less anxious (72%) as a result of spending part of the week working from home.

Meanwhile, 86% said the increase in the amount of free time they had from no longer having to travel to work every day improved their work/life balance and helped them feel they could cope better with the challenges of daily life, the International Workplace Group (IWG) survey found.

Hybrid workers cited benefits including:

  • better quality of sleep (68%)

  • more exercise (54%)

  • healthier meal preparation (58%)

  • better health overall (68%)

Three-quarters said that going back to working five days a week from a central office would damage their wellbeing.

“Little has done more over the years to depress, stress and irritate workers than the daily commute. It separates families, fractures communities, pollutes the environment and wastes vast amounts of time and money,” said Mark Dixon, IWG’s chief executive.

The research, by Mortar Research, “shows the substantial health and wellbeing benefits to those working in the hybrid model, with workers using the time saved from commuting less to enjoy an improved quality of life and work/life balance.

“Employees are now significantly healthier and happier and feel more in control of their lives.”

Crucially, the survey also found that about three in four hybrid workers felt they were more productive (74%) and more motivated (76%) because of splitting their week, while 85% said it had improved their job satisfaction.

The findings tally with research published last week in the scientific journal Nature by Nick Bloom , a Stanford University professor of economics and expert in home working.

Hybrid working improves job satisfaction, makes no difference to productivity and reduces quitting by staff – especially women, non-managers and those with a long commute – by a third, Bloom found after studying 1,612 staff at a Chinese technology company.

In addition, 395 managers in the study who were initially negative about employees working from home two days a week switched to being positive overall about it when they saw how it worked.

Dr Jen Rhymer, an expert in the future of work in University College London’s school of management, said IWG’s findings underline how “unsurprisingly, a hybrid work arrangement is the most in-demand benefit” that people request before taking a job.

“Numerous studies have demonstrated that remote and hybrid work is as or more productive than fully in-office work,” she said. “It has also been shown to improve job satisfaction and retention. Work stress and exhaustion is reduced with working from home, increased autonomy being a key factor in this.”

Organisations that offer flexible working are more likely to attract younger staff and be less affected by the labour shortages that have become common in recent years, Dixon said.

“This study also shows the vital importance of hybrid working for firms aiming to attract younger employees who favour the flexibility it offers,” he added.

“Offering a mix of remote and in-office work, companies can provide the sought-after work/life balance that enhances employee wellbeing and productivity.”

IWG are a leading provider globally of hybrid working set-ups. The 1,026 participants in their survey were representative of the UK population by region and gender.

Paul Nowak, the general secretary of the TUC, said: “Despite recent changes in legislation employers still have free rein to turn down any and all requests for flexible working. And people are often too scared to ask for flexible working at job interviews for fear of being discriminated against.”

But, he added: “Labour’s new deal for working people will strengthen flexible working rules by making flexible working a default right from day one.”

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