How is Flexible Working Impacting Our Mental Health?
Terms such as home working and work/life balance have become part of our vocabulary. But a recent survey has identified the hidden impacts of flexible working on our mental health.
Some companies have made a full return to the office. Although barriers still remain in terms of health, wellbeing and employees feeling safe and supported at work. This is one of the challenges facing facilities management professionals as we approach the end of 2022.
Bad for your mental health?
It turns out that home working could be bad for your health. With research by the British Council for Offices revealing that over half of respondents reported back, neck and shoulder pain. In an OSiT survey, 29% of respondents felt that the lack of suitable equipment was a disadvantage to home working while 64% felt their company had not offered practical health and safety advice.
But the survey also revealed the impact of remote working on the wellbeing and mental health of respondents. Almost 30% felt that one of the biggest drawbacks were feelings of loneliness and isolation, with 25% experiencing feelings of anxiety. 37% cited the inability to unplug from the work environment as a major drawback.
It’s therefore not surprising that only 5% of respondents favoured full-time remote working with the remaining 95% happier with a full return or to have flexible working arrangements.
The changes for Facilities Managers
So what do employers and FM professionals need to do to ensure that our mental health is protected as we work more flexibly? A common misconception is that less occupancy means less work for Facilities Managers. But this is not the case. There’s different heating and ventilation needs. Energy plans will need to be reviewed. And in light of the cost of electricity in recent weeks, this is even more important.
It’s also important to remember that with less people in the office, those small maintenance problems may go un-reported for longer than usual. Facilities Managers have needed to review the way they check for general wear and tear of their building. However, Facilities Managers have a unique ability to adapt quickly to many different situations. So as long as you have the right FM team, you can be assured that everything is being done to facilitate this new way of working.
The bigger picture for mental health
Despite the many benefits to home or flexible working including avoiding the daily commute (72%) and spending more time with family (54%), employers still need to ensure that all employees have access to mental health support.
A professionalised environment
It seems that we actually thrive in the professional office. Where opportunities for formal and informal collaboration foster productivity, community and a sense of wellbeing. we also need to remember the uncomfortable hidden costs of remote working. Feelings of isolation, lack of dedicated workspace and uncomfortable blurring of the boundaries between work and life have created impacts that haven’t disappeared overnight.
The potential cost to mental health and wellbeing makes the return to the office more critical than ever. FM professionals have a key role and responsibility in ensuring that workers feel safe and comfortable when they finally return to the office. Actioning the ‘workers wishlist’ would be a good place to start while flexible working will encourage workers to return to the normality of the office.
About Catch 22
We are one of the UK’s leading Facilities Management Recruitment Specialists, trading for 40 years and with a first-class reputation in the FM Industry.
We offer a full and comprehensive recruitment service here at Catch 22 – from short term temporary supply through to high end permanent and executive level recruitment.
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