A new study suggests flexible workers feel better rested, more engaged, and have a higher sense of wellbeing than their office-based counterparts.

Research commissioned by the NSW Government analysed the experiences of 1,039 NSW-based flexible workers throughout the 2020 pandemic lockdown to determine their psychological risk compared with non-flexible workers.

The dramatic shift to working from home caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to ensure the right support mechanisms are in place for modern ways of working, according to director of the NSW Centre for Work Health and Safety, Skye Buatava. 

“Flexible and remote working has of course become commonplace over the last few years, and during last year’s lockdown we commissioned this study to investigate how our workforce was finding working from home. It’s reassuring to see that for the most part, working flexibly can be a very positive experience for workers,” Ms Buatava said.

Flexible workers taking part in the study reported a more positive working environment and lower levels of sleeping troubles. 

Further, significantly higher levels of wellbeing were reported as they felt that the organisation prioritised wellbeing and psychological safety.

Ms Buatava said that alongside these positive findings, the research indicated some gaps in workplace health and safety support for flexible workers.

“We discovered that some flexible workers felt their organisation did not have adequate work health and safety processes in place and that training around mental wellness was lacking,” Ms Buatava said.

“The shift to flexible work has been dramatic due to COVID restrictions and we need to ensure that businesses have up to date policies and procedures for their workforce, whether in the office or not.

“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.

“Even with the current restrictions likely to lift in the coming months, it’s critical that businesses formalise their flexible and remote working procedures, and I encourage every business in NSW to download the resources as soon as possible.”