Flexible work is having a positive impact on worker wellbeing, according to a new study.
The NSW government, in partnership with Edith Cowan University, has collated the experiences of more than 1,000 NSW-based flexible workers throughout the 2020 pandemic lockdown to determine their levels of psychological risk.
Compared with non-flexible workers, flexible employees reported feeling better rested, more engaged, and had a higher sense of wellbeing than their office-based counterparts.
Skye Buatava, director of the Centre for Work Health and Safety, said the COVID-19 pandemic causing a dramatic shift to flexible work has highlighted the need to ensure the right support mechanisms are in place for modern ways of working.
“It’s reassuring to see that for the most part, working flexibly can be a very positive experience for workers.”
According to the study, flexible workers reported a more positive working environment and lower levels of sleeping troubles. They also expressed significantly higher levels of wellbeing “as they felt that the organisation prioritised wellbeing and psychological safety”.
But alongside these positive findings, the research did note several gaps in workplace health and safety support for flexible workers, with some respondents stating that they “felt their organisation did not have adequate work health and safety processes in place and that training around mental wellness was lacking”, according to the director.
She has acknowledged that such a dramatic shift was exacerbated by COVID, but “we need to ensure that businesses have up-to-date policies and procedures for their workforce, whether in the office or not”.
“Even with the current restrictions likely to lift in the coming months, it’s critical that businesses formalise their flexible and remote working procedures,” Ms Buatava said.
“We’re supporting businesses by launching an easy to use, best practice guide with free resources on supporting flexible workers. We’ve also got a suite of training modules and guidance materials with practical advice for employers and employees on creating a mentally healthy workplace at home, both during and after the COVID-19 restrictions.”