Flexible workers are happier workers it seems. New research shows they feel better rested, more engaged and have a higher sense of wellbeing than those confined to the office.
A NSW government study conducted in partnership with Edith Cowan University found employees able to work remotely when they need to consider the arrangement an overwhelming positive.
They also report less trouble sleeping and sense that their comfort and emotional security are being better looked after despite the social isolation.
The psychological health of the 1039 employees interviewed about lockdown didn't much differ, with wellbeing, distress and burnout reported at similarly moderate levels for flexible and non-flexible workers alike.
Factors such as the industry they worked in and the type of contract they were employed under weren't really important either.
What did matter, were individual circumstances such as having a disability or having to care for a partner or young children while working from home.
Women faced additional demands due to societal gender norms.
An improper ergonomic set-up was nominated by respondents as a barrier to safe, flexible work, with some indicating it had caused them physical pain.
Some said they had been offered financial support to set up ergonomically appropriate home work stations but many hadn't.
Flexible workers also placed a high value on feeling trusted by line managers and employers generally.
"It's reassuring to see that for the most part, working flexibly can be a very positive experience," NSW Centre of Work Health and Safety director Skye Buatava said.
At the same time, the dramatic WFH shift during the pandemic has "highlighted the need to ensure the right support mechanisms are in place for modern ways of working".
"We discovered 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," she said.
In response, the centre has launched 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," Ms Buatava said.
Australian Associated Press