Flexibility isn't just a boon to workers' physical health, it's also a game-changer for their mental health. In Wildgoose's 2019 Flexible Working Survey of employees from 114 companies, 39 percent of respondents who work flexibly have seen a marked improvement in their mental health. Meanwhile, 42 percent of those who can't work flexibly say doing so would help them better manage their mental health.
The stakes of employee mental health have never been higher amid the "meteoric" rise of mental illness in America. As we previously reported, 18.8 million American adults—nearly 10 percent of American adults and 20 percent of those 55 and older—will suffer from a depressive illness in a given year. And the CDC has revealed that people living with depression miss an average of 4.8 workdays and experience 11.5 days of reduced productivity each quarter, and the cost to employers is $17–44 billion each year.
Our research, meanwhile, provides insights into the toll that inflexible work environments take on the American workforce. We found that current workday structures make it difficult for 30 percent of employees to attend recurring health appointments, 29 percent to perform sustainably over time, and 29 percent to bring their whole selves to work.
Flexible work environments, on the other hand, make all the difference. Workers can use MicroAgility and TimeShift to modify their working hours so they can seek mental health support, attend to their caregiving responsibilities, or just enjoy a couple of hours off in the middle of the workday. They can use DeskPlus or Remote to avoid stressful commutes and distracting shared workplaces. They can use TravelLite to limit the amount of time business travel takes them away from the comforts of home.
In fact, nearly 70 percent of the Wildgoose survey respondents who can access flexibility say it helps them maintain a good work-life balance. 53 percent say it's reassuring to know their boss will understand if they need to schedule their work around unexpected interruptions. Nearly 40 percent said flexible work allows them to have a family and a career at the same time. And 35 percent said it makes the commute less stressful or lets them make school runs.
In short, flex helps eliminate stress points while empowering employees to focus on their mental health or to seek outside help if needed. Traditional workday structures are part of the problem; the flexible future is part of the solution.