ILO says flex work is a ‘win-win’ for everyone

Labour organisation says the more work-life balance, the better for businesses and employees

LONDON, ENGLAND — There’s no question that remote work has been outpacing in-person jobs when it comes to work-life balance. But a newly released study is questioning whether that can be improved even further for the best possible outcome for both businesses and staff.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) recently undertook a study exclusively on the topic of work-life balance.

UK remote work

The ILO confirmed that work-life balance improves productivity.

Some of its results confirmed what other independent studies had already acknowledged — namely that productivity is dramatically higher for organisations that offer their employees at least some form of flexibility, whether in a remote/hybrid format or another form.

However, it also called attention to trouble in paradise where remote work is concerned, given that some employees are made to feel that they must always be available when working remotely.

Previous studies have mentioned a similar point, noting that sometimes remote workers can actually be too productive and spend more time working than they did when they were in physical offices.

Remote workers also take far fewer sick days than their in-person counterparts, again cutting down on the amount of downtime remote workers actually get.

In its report, the ILO underscored that this outcome is harmful not just for remote workers but for all workers.

Indeed, it found that more flexible work arrangements that give employees better work-life balance are a significant boon for businesses and workers alike.

Remote working boosts work-life balance

While it did not mention the UK government’s incoming policy of the right to request flexible working arrangements from day 1 by name, the ILO underscored that more policies like this would benefit businesses and workers alike.

UK remote work

ILO: The more workers who have access to flexible work, the better.

According to its research, “national policies that promote flexible working arrangements, including those that establish a legal ‘right-to-request’ for such arrangements, can help to ensure that a broad range of employees have access to at least some types of flexible working arrangements”.

This includes telework or remote work, the ILO said.

“Longer hours of work are generally associated with lower unit labour productivity, while shorter hours of work are linked with higher productivity,” it concluded.

Additionally, the organisation noted, “Teleworking (remote work) helps maintain employment and creates new scope for employee autonomy.

“However, these and other types of flexible working arrangements need regulating to contain their potential negative effects, through policies such as what is often called a ‘right to disconnect” from work.’”

Indeed, according to the ILO, “There is a substantial amount of evidence that work-life balance policies provide significant benefits to enterprises, supporting the argument that such policies are a ‘win-win’ for both employers and employees.”

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International Labour Organization report “Working Time and Work-Life Balance Around the World

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