More than two years after the start of Covid-19, companies and their employees are facing new challenges. From economic instability to political upheaval and the cost of living crisis, there is much to be uncomfortable about.
For managers, the impact of these concerns on the well-being of their employees should be an important consideration. Why? Because happier and healthier teams make for more successful companies.
According to the University of Oxford’s Said Business School, happiness has a clear impact on productivity. Their research showed that employees who rated themselves “happier” not only worked faster and spoke to more customers, they also made 13% more sales.
As Chief Commercial Officer at IWG, I’m a passionate advocate of the hybrid model. It’s a powerful driver of positive change, both for organizations and the people who work for them — and it should be at the center of current leaders’ conversations about wellbeing.
Commuting: bad for people, bad for business
In the new post-pandemic world of work, people’s priorities have shifted. There is a greater emphasis on mental, physical and emotional health and the expectation that work should fit life and not the other way around.
Long periods of enforced remote work have proven that productivity can be maintained – even improved in some cases – by giving employees the autonomy and independence to choose where, how and even when to work.
Having benefited from extra time to spend with loved ones, pursue hobbies or pursue fitness goals, it’s no surprise that people are reluctant to trade it for a return to daily train journeys or traffic jams. IWG research shows nearly half of workers would quit their job if asked to return to the office five days a week, and just one in five are now willing to commute more than 30 minutes.
Rising travel costs are likely to make unnecessary commuting an even greater stressor for employees this winter, spurring employers to rethink how, when and why they choose to bring people together at corporate headquarters. While regular gatherings can be immensely valuable, it is critical that they have a clear purpose that people can stand behind.
Overall, it’s clear that empowering people to achieve a better work-life balance is a win-win. According to Accenture, 63% of high-growth companies have adopted “productivity everywhere” working models, while 69% of negative or no-growth companies remain committed to dictating where people work.
It should also be remembered that the hybrid model offers a powerful boost for people who may be less able to work in more traditional 9-5 office roles. As a working mom, I know how difficult it can be to balance personal and professional responsibilities – but hybrid working has allowed me to take on a new, higher-level role and reach career heights that might otherwise not have been possible.
This speaks to another key advantage of the hybrid model: its ability to help companies retain and even recruit top talent. Providing avenues for promotion is motivating and inspiring for employees who might otherwise feel down, “quiet quit” or want to move on. Meanwhile, our latest research shows that hybrid working is now a key benefit people are looking for when looking for a job. In our survey, 72% of respondents said they would forego a 10% pay rise if they could keep the flexibility to work in their workplace.
Partnerships that promote health
While Covid-19 has had many negative consequences, people’s renewed interest in healthy eating and fitness has been positive. People who previously struggled to find time to cook have become avid cooks and the pandemic has been coupled with a renewed interest in getting fit and healthy, with the launch of the NHS ‘Couch to 5k’ running scheme being a good example is for.
However, given the cost-of-living crisis, it’s no wonder more than half of office workers recently surveyed by IWG said they’ve canceled or are considering canceling their gym membership. That’s why we recently announced partnerships in the UK with BUPA and Hussle, the flexible gym provider. These make it easier for our customers – whether they are self-employed, freelance or full-time for SMEs – to access workplace benefits that are normally only available to those who work for well-known companies.
By making quality private healthcare and fitness more affordable for their employees, our partners can capitalize on the wellness benefits that hybrid work naturally provides. And from a business perspective, investing in such programs seems like a no-brainer; According to Deloitte, employers can expect a return of up to £5 for every £1 spent on health and wellness initiatives.
Once a hybrid work policy has been put in place, it is important to ensure that it does not create loneliness or isolation for team members. We’ve used technology that helps people stay connected and happy at work and created a virtual “neighborhood” where there’s constant, supportive chat between teams.
We also recognize that our workspaces have the potential to fill a gap that often arises when people work remotely: a space where networking and collaboration between colleagues normally takes place. Our locations organize events that bring people together from yoga classes to talks from guest speakers to working lunches.
A shared workspace provides support for physical, mental, and emotional health that people simply don’t get from working exclusively from home.
Happier, more productive people
The world’s most progressive companies are now taking a people-centric approach to the way their teams work. While hybrid working is not a panacea or panacea, it is a critical component of a modern organization’s approach to managing health and well-being.
The hybrid model isn’t just revolutionizing the way people work – it’s revolutionizing the way they live.
In the new world of work, employers can actively improve the lives of their employees, and the benefits of this are real for both companies and individuals. In view of the turbulent times we are living through, this is probably a responsibility – but also an exciting opportunity that should not be missed.