Supporting employee well-being has never been more important

More than two years since the start of Covid-19, businesses and their people are facing new challenges. From economic instability to political upheaval and a cost-of-living crisis, there’s plenty to worry about.

For business leaders, the impact of this concern on the well-being of their employees should be a major concern. Why? Because happier, healthier teams create more successful companies.

According to Oxford University’s Said School of Business, happiness has a clear impact on productivity. Their research showed that employees who rated themselves as “happy” not only worked faster, talked to more customers, but also made 13% more sales.

As Chief Commercial Officer of IWG, I am an advocate of the hybrid model. It’s a powerful driver of positive change for both companies and the people who work for them, and it should be at the heart of executives’ current conversations about well-being.

Commuting: Bad for People, Bad for Business

In the new, post-pandemic world of work, people’s priorities have changed. There is an increased focus on mental, physical and emotional health and an expectation that work should fit life rather than the other way around.

Long periods of forced telecommuting have proven that productivity can be maintained, and in some cases even improved, by giving employees the autonomy and independence to choose where, how, and even when they work.

It’s no wonder that people who have benefited from the extra time to spend with loved ones, pursue hobbies or pursue fitness goals hate it, only to return to daily train journeys or traffic jams. IWG research shows that nearly half of workers would quit their jobs if asked to return to the office five days a week, and only one in five are now willing to commute more than thirty minutes.

Rising travel costs could make unnecessary travel even more stressful for employees this winter and should make employers think harder about how, when and why they choose to bring people together at company headquarters. Regular meetings can be very valuable, but it’s essential that they have a clear purpose that people can get behind.

All in all, it’s clear that it makes sense to allow people to achieve a better work-life balance. According to Accenture, 63% of high-growth firms have adopted “work anywhere” models, while 69% of companies with negative or no growth are willing to dictate where people work from.

It’s also important to remember that the hybrid model provides a powerful boost for people who can’t work in traditional, office-based, 9-5 roles. As a working mom, I know how difficult it can be to juggle personal and professional responsibilities, but hybrid work has allowed me to take on a new, heightened role and reach career heights that would otherwise have been impossible.


This speaks to another important benefit of the hybrid model: its ability to help businesses retain and indeed recruit top talent. Providing avenues for promotion motivates and inspires employees who may otherwise feel low, want to “quiet” or move on. Additionally, our recent research has shown that hybrid work is now the top benefit people are looking for when looking for a job. In our survey, 72% of people said they would leave their workplace without a 10% pay rise if they could keep flexibility.

Partnerships for health promotion

While Covid-19 has had many negative consequences, one positive has been the resurgence of people’s interest in healthy eating and fitness. People who previously struggled to find time to cook have become keen cooks, and the pandemic has been linked to a renewed interest in fitness and health with the adoption of the NHS 5K programme.

But with the cost of living crisis biting, it’s no surprise that more than half of office workers surveyed by IWG recently said they’ve given up or considered giving up a gym membership. That’s why we recently announced a partnership with BUPA and flexible gym supplier Hussle in the UK. This makes it easy for our clients – whether they’re self-employed, freelancers or working full-time for an SME – to access the kind of workplace benefits normally only open to those working for large corporations.

By making quality personal healthcare and fitness opportunities available to our people, our partners can build on the well-being benefits that hybrid work naturally offers. And from a business point of view, investing in such schemes does not seem easy; According to Deloitte, employers can expect a return of up to £5 for every £1 spent on health and wellness initiatives.

Avoid isolation

Once you have a hybrid work policy, it’s important to make sure it doesn’t create loneliness or isolation for team members. We’ve used technology to help keep people connected and happy at work by creating a virtual “neighborhood” where teams have regular, supportive chats.

We also understand that our workspace has the potential to fill a void that often occurs when people work remotely: a space where networking and collaboration typically takes place between colleagues. Our venues host events that bring people together, from yoga classes to guest lectures and business lunches.

Shared workspaces offer physical, mental, and emotional health support that people can’t get when they work from home alone.

Happy, productive people

The world’s most progressive companies are now putting people first in how their teams work. While hybrid working is not a silver bullet or cure-all, it is an essential component of any modern firm’s approach to health and wellbeing management.

The hybrid model is changing not only the way people work, but also the way they live.

In the new world of work, employers can actively improve the lives of their people, and the benefits are as real for businesses as for individuals. Given the tumultuous times we live in, this is a responsibility, but it is also an exciting opportunity that should not be missed.

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