Hybrid, WFH, or Full-Time Office: Which is Better for Your Health?
Offices are opening back up, and those being asked to choose a flexible work model have a big choice to make. But how does where you work from impact your health and well-being? Let’s find out.
According to the Ministry of Statistics, India, the labour force participation rate for women in 2020 fell to 16.1%. Women in India are now working less, and much of it is due to unsustainable working models and increasing household responsibilities. The Future of Work After COVID-19 Report by McKinsey states that women globally are more likely to change occupations now than before the pandemic.
As offices begin opening and employment opportunities increase, many women are returning to join the workforce. But, that begs the question, are people looking to work full-time in the office, and if so, at what cost? Mental and physical well-being are crucial to a good-quality life, and here is how your working situation can change it.
Working From Home – Worth the Hype?
A 2021 survey by FlexJobs, a flexible job portal, revealed that 65% of women globally felt that working from home increased gender equality and opportunities. 60% of women who participated in the survey stated that they would look for a new job if they weren’t allowed to keep working remotely.
It’s clear that women prefer work-from-home compared to the traditional office setup, but the reason behind that isn’t just comfort. Working from home offers opportunities to women who would have otherwise not been working at all. It ensures that they are fulfilling their domestic roles, but not at the sacrifice of their careers.
As mentioned by President Ram Nath Kovind in Manorama 2022, ‘work from home during the pandemic has its benefits, but has also put working women under a triple burden.’ The burden of paid work (their job), unpaid care work (domestic duties) and watching over their children. A survey by Toluna in 2020 showed that 71% of women sleep less than their husbands on average due to household chores.
Work from home in this regard is ideal for many working women who have household responsibilities to fulfil. It allows them to spend quality family time, household chores, and professional work. It also helps ensure they have more time to focus on themselves, especially in the middle of hectic days.
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Hybrid – The Best of Both Worlds
Depending on where you’re working, the type of flexible work arrangement your company provides for you can be different. Some companies are implementing a 70-30 flexi-work arrangement, where 70% is WFH and 30% from office, or vice-versa. There are many arrangements available, and it all comes down to your position and what your company requires of you.
However, remote working isn’t suitable for all, especially those who want to move forward in their career. Those functioning in office may have a clear advantage, at least, that’s what Mark Mortensen (Professor at INSEAD, USA) and Martine Haas (Professor at Wharton School, USA) believe when talking about how hybrid workplaces can be made fair.
Those working from the office have fast access to technology and information and better interaction with senior management at the company. However, it can come at the cost of mental stability, especially for those introverted by nature.
However, for many reasons, a hybrid workplace is ideal for many. It enables them to have people-to-people interactions and spend quality time with family too. Being isolated for too long at a WFH setup can lead to a lack of social support, especially for their work.
Physically, the demands of a hybrid workplace can be considerably less than a full-time office job. It enables you to achieve some physical activity in your routine, especially if you cannot get that from a WFH setup. The commute enables you to start and end your day with light physical activity. Regular office activities during the day, and even the simple act of walking to the cafeteria gives some people the much-needed break and physical exercise they need.
According to a 2021 Remote Work & Compensation Pulse Survey, 51% of employers prefer a hybrid-work model, whereas 44% of employees prefer the same work model as was used during the pandemic.
Full-Time Office – Ideal for Some, Not All
When you’re bogged down by poor infrastructure at home, whether slow internet or lagging devices, a full-time office job might be what you’re looking for. While full-time office jobs get a bad rep, they can be increasingly beneficial for some people. For those suffering because of continual disturbances in their home life or are unhappy staying at home, going to the office every day can be just what they need.
While you can save financially on the cost of commute and other office-related expenditures, it might not be desirable when your mental health is being sacrificed. Interacting with colleagues daily can boost social skills and happiness levels, especially for extroverted people.
Working from an office full-time ensures that you are getting regular exercise while commuting. However, if you’re at a desk during the day, you might want to look for ways to exercise while working.
Related Story: 3 Stretches for People Who Have A Desk Job
Making A Decision That Makes You Happy
Ultimately, the work model you end up opting for should leave no room for regrets. A 2019 National Statistical Office survey in India shows that more than 90% of women participate in unpaid care work. When you’re looking to juggle between work and domestic duties, you have to ensure that you’re choosing a model that suits you. Your mental and physical well-being should also be considered when making this monumental decision.
A 2020 study done by Prodoscore (an employee productivity program) revealed a 5 percent increase in productivity during the pandemic, showing that WFH can be a better choice for some employers. Regarding the study, the Prodoscore CEO stated that if an employee is productive in-office, they’ll be productive at home, and vice versa.
State of Remote Work 2021 report by Owl Labs, USA showed that 78% of employees felt more included when they returned to the office. 90% of employees believed that they are just as productive working at home as they were at office.
A study by McKinsey on remote work shows that more than half the current workforce today has no opportunity for remote work. However, while many will have to adapt to new realities post-COVID, your work model may allow a bit of flexibility. Find the ideal working situation for you when you are informed of the facts and what is most beneficial for you.
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