Think back, long ago, to the way our lives used to be. For many of us, the weekend was king – offering a respite from the hours spent commuting and working, but somehow not enough time to cover the rest of life’s tasks.
First off, there’s the admin of it all. Cleaning, laundry, cooking, food shopping, DIY. Then there’s the pleasurable but time-sapping things like socialising with friends and family. Not to mention your other commitments – from volunteering to hobby groups – and those of your partner or children, if you have them.
How did we manage it? Forget about resting, forget about exercise. Outsource what you can, like some elements of caring for family, and let multiple balls drop because you’ve no option. But things can be different now.
Let’s be clear: a hybrid working model represents much more than employers reluctantly letting their teams bunk off at home a few times a week. No, it offers a complete cognitive shift to our way of being.
It’s an acceptance of the fact that we don’t have to ‘live to work’ or ‘work to live’ – but that our day-to-day can be balanced between the things we have to do, want to do, and what’s good for us. Like the introduction of the 48-hour weekend and the entrance of women into the workforce, it’s a workplace change that extends far into life as we know it.
And in a much broader sense that we realise, one aspect of that is how it can improve our physical health and wellbeing.
The UK’s healthcare service has been overstretched for years – and adding in a global pandemic certainly didn’t help. Call them heroes, frontline workers, or NHS angels, health workers have dealt with a particularly difficult few years.
But what does hybrid work have to do with this? The possibly surprising reality is that hybrid working, for a variety of reasons, could take some pressure off the NHS:
And it’s not just a boost for the NHS. Of those unable to work, hybrid work could bring 3.8 million back – boosting GDP by £48 billion yearly – and increase part-time worker hours by 1.27 billion hours annually. So the benefits keep stacking up.
The freedom to do more physical activity is a double-whammy, boosting mental health too. As we’ve discussed previously, highly active adults have lower stress rates and a 20-30% lower risk of depression. Physical activity also boosts self-esteem.
Can mental health affect physical health? Yes, of course, but with many reporting raised mental wellbeing from flexible working patterns too, this seems under control.
So in a roundabout way, a hybrid workplace can offer benefits to the country, health services, businesses, and your employees themselves. Encouraging them to take up the opportunity to use their spare time for physical activity is a worthy exercise, due to this.
Nobody said it would be easy. Changing to a completely different approach to worklife is a huge thing to tackle, and no-one’s got the definitive right answer. All you can do is make small, iterative changes to try and hone the perfect hybrid working policy.
That comes by listening to your people, what they need, and how they’re doing in this new world of work. Use our ‘Returning to the Workplace’ survey for free, and you’ll get a good measure of how to get started: