Can a Hybrid Work Schedule Make Employees Healthier?

In today’s rapidly evolving work landscape, one thing is certain: there’s been a profound shift in how, and where employees want to work. The appeal of remote and hybrid work is undeniable, offering improved work-life balance, reduced stress levels, and increased job satisfaction. However, recent studies have revealed another advantage: hybrid work schedules can positively impact employee health.

The Rise of the Hybrid Workforce   

Hybrid work schedules have seen explosive growth, as employees embrace the flexibility of alternating between office and remote work. Surveys and studies conducted across diverse industries paint a vivid picture of the prevalence and preference for hybrid models:

  • Census Bureau data reveals a threefold increase in the number of people working from home between 2019 and 2021.
  • A survey on the future of work found that a staggering 83% of employees expressed a preference for a hybrid work model.
  • According to a Gallup survey, 42% of employees are working hybrid schedules, while 39% have transitioned to fully remote work.

Employers Embrace Hybrid Work

Businesses of all sizes, ranging from small independent companies to large multinational corporations, have recognized the advantages of hybrid work, including cost savings and increased productivity. Global Workplace Analytics estimates that a typical U.S. employer could save an average of $11,000 per employee annually through telecommuting. The savings stem from reduced office space costs, increased productivity, and reduced absenteeism and turnover.

Notably, the popularity of hybrid work is further reflected in the number of employers planning to adopt the model. The Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research found that 70% of businesses plan to implement some form of hybrid work arrangement. Another study from AT&T1 projects that the hybrid work model will grow to 81% by 2024.

The Impact of Hybrid Work on Health

As businesses continue to adopt hybrid work models, it will be important to explore ways to support remote employees’ health and well-being. Fortunately, research indicates that the hybrid work environment can have a positive influence on employee health.

A recent study by the International Workplace Group2 found that hybrid workers tend to exhibit healthier lifestyle habits, including increased exercise, improved sleep patterns, and better eating habits. Noteworthy findings from the study include:

  • Hybrid workers engaged in 90 minutes of additional exercise per week compared to pre-pandemic times.
  • They got an extra 71 hours of sleep per year.
  • Nearly a quarter of survey respondents reported losing more than 22 lbs. due to healthier diets.
  • Hybrid workers experienced reduced work-related stress.

The added flexibility3 provided by hybrid and remote work plays a pivotal role in promoting employees’ health. A survey from Working From Home Research supports this finding, explaining that a flexible schedule allows employees to allocate more time to exercise. 

Moreover, reduced commuting times mean employees have more time to exercise and engage in other activities that promote a healthier lifestyle.

Strategies for Cultivating a Healthier Hybrid Workforce

“It is very important that our work force has access to a healthy work environment both at home and at the work place.  Especially at home, when we have limited space; which may require a bit of creativity to incorporate healthy and meaningful activities to promote both physical and mental health” said Dr. Amy Lee, PEAR Health Lab’s Chief Medical Officer.

Regular physical activity is a vital aspect of employee health. However, with more employees working from home, encouraging and facilitating exercise can pose a challenge. Employers can help their workers stay healthy and productive by implementing a few cost-effective strategies. Here are some ideas to consider:

  1. Offer flexible schedules. Give employees the freedom to manage their time effectively and incorporate exercise when it suits them best. This could involve allowing longer lunch breaks or providing the option to schedule an exercise session during the workday.
  2. Encourage movement breaks. The dangers associated with prolonged sitting are well-established, including increased risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer.  Combat the negative effects of sedentary behavior by promoting movement throughout the day. Encourage employees to schedule brisk walks, 15-minute exercise sessions, and stretch breaks. Additionally, consider providing standing desks which can encourage workers to get up more during the workday.
  3. Provide easily accessible exercise resources. Employees can benefit from personalized fitness apps that offer custom coaching and on-demand workouts. Aaptiv is an excellent resource for promoting employee wellness in a hybrid work environment. Aaptiv’s digital fitness solution serves as a one-stop shop for employees to find fitness programs that match their lifestyles, preferences, and schedules.
  4. Infuse fun into exercise. Transform exercise into an enjoyable activity by incorporating team-building initiatives or friendly competitions. Aaptiv also offers team-based challenges and access to a supportive, inspiring community group that foster camaraderie and makes physical activity more appealing and engaging for employees.

The rise of hybrid work schedules has transformed the work landscape, offering employees improved work-life balance and reduced stress levels. Beyond these advantages, it can also lead to better employee health. By empowering all employees to embrace movement and exercise within the comfort of their homes, businesses can reap the benefits of a healthier and more engaged workforce.

Aaptiv can be a great resource to promote employee wellness in a hybrid work environment. Learn more about Aaptiv Employee Wellness Options.

 

1 Pereira, K. “Is Corporate America Ready for the Future of Work?” AT&T Global Business Solutions, 2022

2 Tsipurksky, G. “Does Hybrid Work Lead to a Healthier Workforce”, Forbes.com , 2023

3Rewriting the Rules: Building a Healthy Hybrid Workplace”, Economist Impact, 2022

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