Hybrid workers are living healthily through better food, longer sleep and more exercise, IWG survey reveals

A new study has revealed that hybrid working is leading to a healthier workforce, with more time being dedicated to exercise, sleep and healthy eating. Research among more than 2,000 hybrid workers by IWG, an operator of flexible workspaces, reveals that the time saved by reduced commuting has led to multiple health and wellbeing benefits, including weight loss, better cooking habits, improved mental health and getting a longer night’s sleep.

What were the findings of the IWG study?

The average hybrid worker is now getting 4.7 hours of exercise a week, compared to 3.4 hours before the pandemic, with the most common forms of exercise being walking, running and strength training. In addition, these workers are also sleeping longer, with the additional time in bed each morning equating to 71 extra hours – or three days – of sleep throughout the year.

Eating habits have also dramatically improved. 70% said hybrid working gives them the time to prepare a healthy breakfast every day since hybrid working, while more than half (54%) have more time to spend cooking nutritious meals during the week. Workers are eating more fresh fruit and vegetables (46% and 44%, respectively), and one-fifth (20%) are eating more fish. A quarter of hybrid workers have also cut their intake of sweets since pre-2020 as well.

More exercise, better sleep and healthier eating has, unsurprisingly, led to more than a quarter (27%) of workers saying they’ve lost weight since the start of the pandemic. Two in five (42%) have lost between 5 and 9.9kgs, while 23% have lost more than 10Kg). The biggest weight loss drivers include increased time for exercise (65%) and more time to cook healthy meals (54%).

Hybrid working has also seen increasing numbers of office workers splitting their time between home, a local workspace and city centre headquarters. This has led to a dramatic reduction in their commutes, saving several hours a day for productive activities.

Flexible working is also delivering productivity gains. Almost four in five (79%) say that they have been more productive since pre-2020 as a result of less work-related stress (47%) and due to having more time to relax and unwind after work (46%). Research from Nicholas Bloom, an economist at Stanford Graduate School of Business, shows that overall productivity is up 3% to 4% because of hybrid working – a tangible benefit for both businesses and staff.

With increased productivity at work and more free time outside of work, it is no surprise that two-thirds (66%) feel that their mental health is good as a result of the shift to hybrid working. 81% say they feel they have had additional personal time compared to pre-2020, and the majority spend this time promoting their health and wellbeing by spending time with family and friends (55%) and exercising (52%) or taking a short walk during the day (67%).

What are IWG’s thoughts about the findings?

Mark Dixon, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of IWG, said, “This study confirms what we have been seeing for a while now – how hybrid working is building and maintaining a healthier and happier workforce by reducing the need for long commutes daily in the workweek.”

Mark Dixon, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at IWG
Mark Dixon, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at IWG

“Offering hybrid work is an important and easy way for companies to place employees first by freeing up their time and giving them greater control over their schedules. Firms adopting hybrid work are seeing healthier, happier workforces and more engaged, productive teams.”

International Workplace Group (IWG), which includes brands Spaces and Regus, has partnered with Dr Sara Kayat, a passionate advocate of the benefits of an active and healthy lifestyle and believes that flexible hybrid working can free up time to give workers a helping hand.

Dr Kayat said, “No doubt that hybrid working has facilitated some major health benefits. A balanced diet, exercise and good quality sleep are the bedrock of a healthy lifestyle, and this data suggests that each is more widespread due to the extra time afforded by this model.

“Stress management and social connections are also incredibly important to mental health and well-being. A healthy balance of work and life allows people to work closer to home, making more time for family, friends and stress-busting hobbies,” Dr Kayat concluded.