COVID-19 restrictions may be easing around the world, but many employers agree that hybrid work is here to stay. In Canada, hybrid work arrangements are on the rise, with nearly 10% of Canadians aged 15 to 69 reporting working both at home and in the workplace.
Now, new research from Simon Fraser University and Toronto Metropolitan University has shed light on the benefits of this growing occupational trend. By surveying more than 1,000 Canadian workers, the researchers found that hybrid work arrangements are better for employees’ mental health than fully remote or in-person work formats.
The study included contributions from Kiffer Card, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University, and was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
How can hybrid work arrangements benefit employees?
As Canada continues to lift COVID-19 restrictions in the coming months, employers will have to find ways to help employees transition to a new normal. For many employers, this will mean deciding on where employees carry out their work — especially since the majority of Canadians want to continue working from home post-pandemic.
Previous studies have already highlighted the benefits that come with working from home, including increased comfort for women during the workday. Card and colleagues were specifically interested in learning how work arrangements can affect our mental health, and whether there’s anything employers can do to help.
To learn more, the researchers carried out a survey of roughly 1,500 Canadian workers aged 16 and older. They gathered this data during Canada’s third wave of the pandemic, when many employees had already been working remotely or in a hybrid capacity for some time.
More than three quarters of survey respondents said that they were working in a hybrid format at the time of the survey. Of these respondents, nearly 90% reported good or excellent self-assessed mental health.
On the other hand, a much higher fraction of employees who worked fully in-person or fully remote reported negative mental health. Among in-person employees, 54% reported negative mental health scores; for remote-only employees, this fraction increased to 63%.
What can employers do to help?
Mental health support in the workplace needs to be a priority for employers, and this study highlights one way employers can help. By allowing employees the freedom to work both from the office and from home, employers can boost their employees’ mental health.
“As employers and employees navigate changing work conditions, our research highlights the importance of considering the potential impacts that working from home and in-person can have on well-being,” Card said in a media release.
The authors also suggest that employers prioritize social events for their employees. Many survey respondents with poor mental health reported loneliness as one of the main areas impacting their mental well-being.
“A key factor that may impact the well-being of employees is how much social support they get and their experiences with loneliness,” Card said.
“Our workplaces are important places for our social connection. Ensuring we prioritize our social health in and out of the workplace is critical.”