Flexible working shown to have health benefits

Flexible working shown to have health benefits

The improvements to productivity and staff morale have already been shown to be a big driver in the adoption of flexible working practices, but experts have suggested there could be health benefits for workers too.

A study led by experts in Oregon, USA, has found that by giving employees the option to work flexibly, it helps to reduce the conflicts between the demands of work and those of a healthy and stable family life.

Orfeu Buxton, an associate professor at Penn State, said: "Work can be a calling and inspirational, as well as a paycheck, but work should not be detrimental to health.

"It is possible to mitigate some of the deleterious effects of work by reducing work-family conflict and improving sleep."

The recent study canvassed the sleeping patterns of IT professionals working 45 hours a week. Half of the respondents were working in the office, while the other half were working flexibly.

Some 30 per cent of workers in the US alone have complained about not getting enough sleep, something which can have a negative impact on memory, the immune system, blood pressure, appetite and cardiovascular system.

It can also lead to a number of other medical conditions, including obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

All of the respondents in the survey wore an actigraphy that tracked their sleep; firstly at the beginning of the survey, before measuring their patterns at the six month and then the year mark.

It found that those undergoing flexible working were sleeping around an hour more than those in the office per week.

While that number might not seem like a lot, researchers state it can still make a significant difference to the health of workers.

And Mr Olson believes that the benefits of flexible practices can be further enhanced by taking further actions, such as being trained in healthy sleep habits.