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Hybrid workers are healthier and more productive than those working from home

30 May 2024

Vitality finds hybrid workers are the healthiest employees


Research conducted by Vitality, the next-generation health and life insurer, as part of its Britain’s Healthiest Workplace study, has found that individuals who work hybrid, striking a balance between working from home and the office, tend to experience fewer lost days due to reduced productivity as a result of ill health or sick leave. 

Persistent poor health remains a pressing issue in the UK, significantly impacting productivity, with nearly 50 days of productive time lost per employee each year of which 6.1 days are attributed to formal absence. Hybrid working correlates with greater productivity with only 47.8 days of productive time lost due to health concerns, including just 4.9 days due to formal absence. 

The difference is even more stark when comparing directly with the alternative. Full-time home workers lost an extra three productive days (50.8 days in total) than their hybrid counterparts. Of those days, a surprising 9.6 days were lost due to formal absence. Similarly, office workers lost 1.2 more productive days on average. 

Physical and Mental Health

The data showed that hybrid workers demonstrate lower rates of obesity and mental well-being compared to office-based and remote workers. Only 20% of hybrid workers are obese, in contrast to the 25.2% obesity rate among full-time home workers. 87.4% of those working from home suffered from at least one musculoskeletal condition, vs only 79.9% for hybrid workers and 78.3% for office workers. Diet also appears better for hybrid and office workers, with c.46% of both groups managing 5 fruit and veg a day, vs only 37.5% for home workers. 

The importance of flexibility is also very clear when looking at mental health data. The data reveals that hybrid workers are less likely to be at risk of suffering from depression, with just 8.1% affected, compared to 10.4% among office workers and 12.1% among those working from home.

Workplace Wellbeing Programmes

Hybrid workers are also most likely to engage with benefits offered by employers, capitalising on their time in the office to engage with wellbeing initiatives and the benefits of flexibility that come from homeworking. On average, their participation in healthcare interventions was 31%, compared to 23% for home workers and only 28% for those in the office full-time. 

Despite spending less time in the office, hybrid workers are just as likely as full-time office workers to participate in nutritional initiatives such as free healthy breakfasts. The data helps to highlight the clear link between actions like these that help to make individuals healthier, and their overall productivity. Interventions like these were found to reduce the loss in productivity by 14% on average. 

Equally, they show the highest engagement with physical activity initiatives such as employer-wide step or activity challenges, which helped to cut productivity loss by 22%, as well as engaging in programmes which better equip them to look after their own health.  More so than their counterparts, the research showed that hybrid workers are likely to actively seek information on the benefits of physical activity and healthy eating from their employer, showing a greater consideration for their wellbeing outside of work.

Employees who engage with these sorts of initiatives lose 15-20% less productive time on average than those who don’t, underscoring the value and importance of workplace wellbeing programmes. 

Neville Koopowitz, CEO of Vitality, said: “Our research highlights the clear evidence that where and how we work can have a significant role in our wellbeing, and ultimately our productivity. 

The data dispels the misconceptions around home working, demonstrating that a hybrid option can be a considerably more effective model with regard to health and productivity. Employees who work from home full time are more likely to suffer from worse physical and mental health, while forcing employees into the office full time does not necessarily deliver the best results either. 

There is clear value in flexibility, but employers need to strike the balance and there are tangible benefits to spending some time each week in the office. Giving employees a reason to make that journey into work, and be healthier when they are there, is critical to a healthy and productive workforce.”

Notes to editors

Methodology: Vitality surveyed more than 4,700 individuals, and their employers, to find out how much productive time they lost due to absence and presenteeism, and what factors drove their behaviour. The financial cost figure here has been calculated by looking at the average number of days lost to employee absence or poor productivity, the number of full-time and part-time employed people in the UK, and the median daily wage, to create an estimate of the cost to the economy of that lost productivity. 

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