The grind of a rigid 9-to-5 work schedule is just that. A grind. Fortunately, recent evidenced-based research is shedding light on what many forward thinking companies have already discovered – that providing employees with flexible work schedules leads to healthier and happier employees and more productive businesses. People with adaptable work environments tend to have healthier habits and may be more productive and efficient when they work. They have time to devote to self-improvement and health as well as to being present for family and friends. Want proof? Look no further.
A review of scientific literature evaluated 10 studies related to flexible work schedules and health. The review found that people with ability to determine their own schedules had better mental health, healthier blood pressure, and better sleep habits than those on fixed or involuntary schedules. This is because people are unique, and unique individuals have different preferences for when to go to bed, wake up, exercise, and even to eat. A rigid 9-to-5 schedule doesn’t accommodate for these preferences, and sleeping well, cooking at home, working out, and other aspects of health can get pushed aside by schedules that just don’t mesh.
Another study published in the Social Science and Medicine journal analyzed changes in a workplace adopting a results-only work environment (compared to one based on a specific schedule or hours worked). Research indicated that people in results-based teams showed decreased smoking and drinking and increased sleep and exercise. A similar study also found wellness benefits in a results-only work environment.
It shouldn’t come as surprise that employees who have the flexibility to take their kids to school, sleep in, or help their spouse, will have better personal relationships, a better quality of life, and more happiness with their employment. The Sloan Center on Aging and Work cites additional benefits of flexible work environments, which include less stress and burnout as well as improved work-life balance and work-family balance.
In a large-scale study of European workers, researchers found that flexibility was the single most important factor in job satisfaction. Flexibility also markedly influenced family and social commitment, irritability, fatigue and anxiety. Another interesting point was that those with flexibility were more likely to feel that they could continue doing the same job at 60 years old.