Support work life balance with flexible working for your employees

This week, 7-11 October 2019, celebrates National Work Life Week. Your ability to maintain a work life balance can be affected by many factors relating to your workplace and working conditions including:

  • The flexibility and quantity of hours that you work;
  • Sick and holiday leave provisions;
  • Availability of support structures within the workplace (e.g. childcare facilities); and,
  • Your commute to and from work

According to the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) over 24 million people commute to work each day in England and Wales – With an average commute time of 56 minutes.1

Commuting can reduce mental wellbeing, negatively impact physical health such as raising blood pressure and also, reduce the time available for health promoting activities, such as physical activity. In fact:

  • Over half of commuters (55%) say the commute increases their stress levels
  • Over one third say the commute decreases the time they spend sleeping
  • More than two in five (41%) say the commute decreases the time they spend being physically active1

The main causes of commuter distress include:

  1. Journey delays
  2. Overcrowding
  3. Anti-social behaviour
  4. Uncomfortable temperature
  5. Journey length1

How can flexible working help your employees?

Job satisfaction can be improved and stress levels reduced if workers have opportunities to cut their commuting time. Flexible working could help achieve this by either working from home occasionally or staggering their hours.

More than 1.5 million people in the UK now work from home – an increase of nearly 20% (241,000) in the last decade. But that is still only 0.5% of the total UK workforce.2

Flexible working arrangements are gaining in popularity, with 31% of employees saying they would rather avail of flexible working arrangements, such as working from home, rather than take a pay rise.3

Flexible working benefits everyone

Employee benefits

There are many benefits that flexible working arrangements can bring to an employee’s life. Such as:

  • Saves time and money on commutes
  • Freedom to work in an environment that is conducive to increasing output and work rate
  • Gives more flexibility over working time
  • Makes it easier to fit work into their lifestyle (e.g. working parents and carers)
  • Reduced stress and fatigue
  • More flexibility to achieve a healthier lifestyle with more quality sleep and physical activity
  • Provides an opportunity for some disabled people to access the labour market

Employer benefits

Flexible working doesn’t just bring benefits to employees. There are also benefits to employers, including:

  • Aids recruiting quality employees
  • Supports productivity with a happier and harder working workforce
  • Can reduce premises costs
  • Aids staff retention due to increased job satisfaction
  • Reduces cost to your business associated with employee absenteeism, tardiness and sick leave
  • Inexpensive to implement and offer a quick, measurable return on investment
  • Improved diversity in your workforce

This article first appeared on

RSPH ‘Health in a hurry’, August 2016
The TUC, 2018
HR Director ‘The benefits of introducing flexible working’, March 2018