Hybrid work, more holistic approach, better for mental health, studies find
Hybrid work is better for worker mental health compared to fully remote or in-person formats, according to a new study by Simon Fraser University and Toronto Metropolitan University researchers.
The study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, examined self-reported mental health scores from a survey of 1,576 Canadian workers aged 16 and older during the third wave of the pandemic.
Workers with a hybrid schedule, which combines in-person and working from home, had higher self-reported mental health scores compared to those working fully in-person or completely from home.
“As employers and employees navigate changing work conditions, our research highlights the importance of considering the potential impacts that working from home and in-person can have on well-being,” says SFU health sciences assistant professor Kiffer Card.
Researchers used the Canadian Social Connection Survey (CSCS) dataset, which includes data collected from April to June 2021. Other associations with self-rated negative mental health include age (all ages over 40 years-old versus those 18 to 29 years-old) and being non-binary or a woman.
Higher formal education levels and being vaccinated were also associated with positive self-rated mental health.
Who is most at risk of burnout?
Researchers also examined factors that contributed to burnout among Canadian workers during the third wave of the pandemic. They collected survey data from 486 participants with an average age of 34.7 years.
People who described feeling burnt out reported higher emotional and social loneliness, more experiences of discrimination and lower support from family, friends and significant others. Burnout was also higher among those living with a disability.
“A key factor that may impact the well-being of employees is how much social support they get and their experiences with loneliness. Our workplaces are important places for our social connection. Ensuring we prioritize our social health in and out of the workplace is critical to protecting ourselves from burnout,” says Card.
Other variables associated with higher burnout include insufficient sleep, time imbalances (too much or too little personal time), financial strain and workplace dissatisfaction (less likely to feel that their workplace is “fair”). Those with bachelor's degrees also had higher burnout scores.
While addressing workplace culture, leadership and other concerns are important. Researchers say companies should consider a broader and more holistic approach to curbing potential burnout by placing more emphasis on health and mental health measures.
The research was recently published in the Journal of Occupational Health.
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