Flexible working can help mental wellbeing

flexible workingFlexible working can help employees manage mental illness and keep them in the workforce during difficult life events, a survey by US-based FlexJobs has claimed. Of 2,100 respondents with a mental illness, such as anxiety or depression, 84 percent thought having a flexible job would help them manage their condition better.

In addition, 35 percent of the overall pool of 3,900 respondents said they have had to take a break from work because of difficult personal circumstances (such as a bereavement, divorce or a serious physical or mental illness of themselves or a loved one). Of those, 88 percent believed that if their job had offered flexibility, they could have remained in the workforce.

‘Flexible work can play a very positive role in supporting employees who have mental health issues or who are going through difficult life circumstances’, said Sara Sutton, Founder and CEO of FlexJobs. ‘According to Mental Health America, more than half of employees are afraid to take a day off to attend to their mental health. Allowing employees to work flexibly reduces the conflict that we all experience between our personal and professional lives, and equips everyone to better meet their mental, emotional and physical needs.’

The survey also asked respondents about how they thought flexible working affected work-life balance, physical health and wellbeing and relationships. These are some of the main findings:

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]83% of respondents said that work has conflicted with their efforts to take care of their overall health.[/perfectpullquote]


Work-life balance

  • Work-life balance tops the reasons for people seeking flexible jobs (67 percent)
  • 54 percent of respondents with flexible work options said their work-life balance is either great or very good, compared to only 29 percent of respondents without flexible work options
  • 21 percent of respondents with flexible work options say they’re currently stressed about their level of work-life balance, compared to 43 percent of those without flexible options


Health and wellbeing

  • 83% of respondents said that work has conflicted with their efforts to take care of their overall health
  • 95 percent believed that a flexible job would be likely to make them a happier person
  • 86 percent believed it would decrease their levels of stress
  • 67 percent thought it would increase how often they exercised



  • 88 percent of respondents believed that having a flexible job would create more time to spend with family
  • 94 percent of those with children (or who plan to have children someday) thought flexible working would help them be a better parent

For the fifth year in a row, the most popular choice for flexible working was 100 percent remote working (favoured by 80 percent of respondents). This was followed by flexible schedules (55 percent), remote work some of the time (4 percent), part-time schedules (34 percent) and freelance work (32 percent).

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