Nuffield Health is the UK’s largest health charity. It operates 31 hospitals, 112 fitness centers, and 160+ workplace health programs. A few months ago, Nuffield released a 40-page report about the health effects of remote work, with insights drawn from 7,000 remote workers.
The results of this report are relevant to both workers and employers worldwide. Here are our core takeaways:
Work-Life Balance is Not Easier for Remote Workers
The idea that remote work automatically improves work-life balance is a myth.
32% of those surveyed by Nuffield reported that remote work meant they could not switch off during their personal time.
This is consistent with a US survey of 2,500 remote workers, who said that their number-one struggle was being able to unplug after work.
These numbers support one of Nuffield’s core recommendations for employers, which is to avoid seeing remote work as “the easy option.”
Senior Managers Are More Likely to Work Remotely Than Junior Staff
Although the Nuffield study discussed the explosive growth in the self-employed sector, the researchers made sure to survey a large swath of employees who worked remotely as part of a firm.
Among that group, they found that as seniority increased, so did employees’ use of flexible work policies. Senior managers over 40, with some experience under their belts, were significantly more likely to work remotely than non-managerial staff. Specifically, more than 60% of senior managers reported working remotely, whereas the number was just over 20% for non-managerial staff. These numbers were drawn only from those with job tenure of at least 12 months to account for training and onboarding time.
Remote work is not for everyone. The Nuffield report points to specific personality traits that indicate someone might benefit from, and succeed in, a flexible work situation. Here are the big ones:
- Happy to spend long periods of time alone
- Enjoys working independently
- Resilient and not discouraged by setbacks
- Able to separate work and home life
Employees with these traits are desirable for many reasons, and offering remote work can help attract them.
Balance is Key
While some companies, especially startups, are fully remote, that’s not the only way to facilitate remote work. In fact, the all-or-nothing approach is probably not ideal. According to Nuffield, “There is some evidence that 2-2.5 days remote working a week provides a good balance for staff to work flexibly while also remaining connected to the physical workplace.”
The Right Tech Makes a Difference
While technology has changed people’s roles and workflows, enabling more remote work than ever, Nuffield emphasizes that tech needs to be implemented thoughtfully. Face-to-face interactions and water-cooler culture remain vital to sustaining a happy, healthy workforce. So, if you have remote workers or teams, choose your tech carefully.
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