New Study Finds Flexible Working Can Reduce the Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke
In a recent study conducted by researchers from Harvard and Penn State universities, it has been revealed that flexible working can significantly decrease the risk of heart attack or stroke. The findings shed light on the ongoing debate about whether working from home improves health, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study focused on the impact of reducing “work-family conflict” on cardiovascular health. It found that employees who have a better work-life balance through flexible working experience heart health equivalent to what they had 10 years earlier. This is significant given that stressful work environments contribute to the risk of heart attack or stroke, which account for 160,000 deaths per year in the UK.
The workplace intervention program, which aimed to improve work-life balance, involved training managers to support employees’ personal lives. It was tested in an IT firm and a care company, with a total of 1,528 participants. The program did not have an overall effect on participants’ risk of cardiovascular disease, but it did reduce the risk for those already at higher risk.
Employees in the IT company experienced a reduction in their cardiometabolic risk score equivalent to 5.5 years of age-related changes. Meanwhile, employees in the care company saw a reduction equivalent to 10.3 years of age-related changes. Older employees with a higher baseline risk were more likely to see a reduction in their risk.
The findings of this study have potential implications for low- and middle-wage workers who have less control over their schedules and job demands. Prioritizing work-life balance for employees, especially in high-stress industries, could lead to significant improvements in heart health and overall well-being.
Approximately 7.6 million people in the UK have a heart or circulatory problem, putting them at higher risk of serious health issues. Therefore, implementing flexible working arrangements and supportive measures within the workplace could have a positive impact on the health of millions of individuals.
As organizations continue to navigate the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to consider the long-term effects of work environments on employee health. This study provides further evidence that flexible working arrangements can be a beneficial solution, not only for productivity but also for the overall well-being of employees.
The researchers hope that these findings will encourage employers to prioritize work-life balance for their employees, ultimately creating healthier and more sustainable work environments. By implementing supportive policies and programs, companies can contribute to a healthier workforce and reduce the burden of cardiovascular diseases in society.
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