A new study from University of Minnesota sociology professors Erin Kelly and Phyllis Moen shows that a flexible workplace environment has a positive effect on employees’ health and well-being—including the amount and quality of sleep they get.
According to the researchers, when you stop viewing time at the office as a sign of productivity and focus more on actual results, it can create a workplace that fosters better health management. “Flexibility encourages employees to take better care of themselves,” says Moens.
The researchers collected data from 608 employees before and after a flexible workplace initiative was implemented and reviewed changes in health-promoting behaviors of those who participated in the initiative versus those who did not.
The findings are pretty impressive. Participants reported getting close to an extra hour of sleep (52 minutes) on work nights and felt less obligated to work when feeling ill; they even went to the doctor, if necessary, despite their busy schedules. Also, flexibility allowed employees to have more control over their schedules, helping them to better balance family and work. This led to better—and more—sleep, higher energy levels and lower levels of stress and exhaustion.
If you work for a company that allows you to work a flexible schedule, do you agree with the study results? What kind of benefits—health-related or not—does flex afford you (and your family)?