A new study has revealed that hybrid working is leading to a healthier workforce, with more time being dedicated to exercise, sleep and healthy eating.
Research among more than 2,000 hybrid workers by IWG, the world’s leading operator of flexible workspaces, reveals that 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.*
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 kip a year.
Eating habits have also dramatically improved. 70% said hybrid working gives them the time to prepare a healthy breakfast every day since hybrid working, while more than half (54%) have more time to spend cooking nutritious meals during the week. Workers are eating more fresh fruit and vegetables (46% and 44% respectively), and one fifth (20%) are eating more fish. A quarter have 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%) of workers saying they’ve lost weight since the start of the pandemic. Two in five (42%) have lost between 5 and 9.9kgs, while a remarkable 23% have lost more than 10Kg). The biggest drivers of weight loss have been increased time for exercise (65%) and more time to cook healthy meals (54%).
IWG, which includes brands Spaces and Regus, has partnered with NHS GP Dr. Sara Kayat, a passionate advocate of the benefits of an active and healthy lifestyle and believes hybrid working can free up time to give workers a helping hand.
Dr Kayat said: “There is no doubt that hybrid working has facilitated some major health benefits. A balanced diet, physical activity and good quality sleep are the bedrocks of a healthy lifestyle, and this data suggests that each is more widespread due to the extra time afforded by a hybrid working model.”
“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 saving several hours a day.
Demand for IWG workspaces outside of city centres grew by 36% in 2022, as more people choose to work from the heart of their local communities. This trend shows no sign of slowing in 2023. IWG’s January office footfall data revealed that attendance at many regional city, suburban and rural locations has grown significantly year-on year, including the likes of Cambridge (+101%), West Malling (+91%) Crawley (+85%) and Chester (+57%).
Hybrid working is also delivering productivity gains. Almost four in five (79%) say they have been more productive since pre-2020 as a result of less work-related stress (47%) and having more time to relax and unwind after work (46%). Research from Nicholas Bloom, an economist at Stanford Graduate School of Business, overall productivity is up 3% to 4% 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%) feel that their mental health is good as a result of the shift to hybrid working. 81% 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%) and exercising (52%) or taking a short walk during the day (67%), all of which have a positive knock-on effect on mental health.
Mark Dixon, CEO of IWG said, “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.”
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