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It’s a Wonderful Workplace: Flexibility Promotes Good Health

When you negotiate that raise, be sure to bring up workplace flexibility as a must-have.

| December 9th, 2011
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Its a Wonderful Workplace: Flexibility Promotes Good Health

In Greek mythology, misery meant rolling a boulder uphill for eternity (ugh). Today, it’s more like this: You, chained to your cubicle, fluorescent lights buzzing above.

Ha, ha, you say, but research says it’s true! Your environment matters at work.

According to a new University of Minnesota study, flexible workplaces significantly improve employee health and wellbeing. They lead to more restful sleep, and leave people basically feeling a whole lot better than their stuck-at-the-office colleagues.

(Admit it, your enslaved investment banker friends don’t seem too relaxed.)

QUIZ: Are You Getting Quality Sleep?

The study analyzed data from over 600 employees at a company, both before and after the organization initiated a flexible workplace initiative. Across the board, employees who could make time for themselves—i.e., doctor appointments didn’t have to be stealth-mode secret service operations—were happier employees.

The benefits were big: better sleep (52 more minutes!), energy levels, work-family balance and overall self-reported health, as well as lower levels of emotional exhaustion and psychological distress. It even increased personal power; curbing that frazzled “puppet on a string” feeling once and for all.

“One of the many benefits of a flexible work schedule is the opportunity for better control of your time, and this can in turn help you to make wise health choices,” YouBeauty Wellness Advisor Beth Ricanati, M.D., says. “For example, you may now find yourself less stressed with family obligations if you’re not held to a firm schedule. You may even have time to cook a homemade dinner!”

The great news is, many organizations—and the government itself—are becoming increasingly aware that workplace flexibility matters. The dog gets sick, your kid stars in the school play, the cable guy is stopping by 9-4…basically life happens, and sometimes, that number-crunchy report can wait while you keep it all together.

So next time you're up against your boss at your annual review, be sure to let him or her know that you plan on leaving early on Mondays to catch your favorite yoga class, and that a happy employee is a productive employee.

MORE: Is Your Boss Stressing You Out?

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