Self-scheduling work could improve employee health

If you’ve been able to do it, you know that gaining control over your work schedule can ease the normal stresses of life. Just being able to work from home when you don’t have someone to stay with a sick child can have a positive impact on your life and how you view your job.

An analysis from the Cochrane Collaboration suggests that the benefits of flexibility and worker control of schedules go much deeper.

A review of ten studies on flexible work schedules by British and Canadian researchers found that workers who have input into those arrangements enjoy  a range of health benefits. Self-scheduling of hours resulted in improved health outcomes in areas such as mental health, sleep quality, heart rate, and blood pressure.

The analysis published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews focused on a variety of work environments. For example, the analysis included a study that found police officers who controlled when their shifts started had significantly better psychological health compared to others who started work at a designated time.

"Flexible working seems to be more beneficial for health and wellbeing where the individuals control their own work patterns, rather than where employers are in control," said Clare Bambra of the Wolfson Research Institute, Durham University in England, who led the analysis. "These findings certainly give employers and employees something to think about."

The ten studies examined work environments and health for at total of 16,603 people. The researchers noted that additional research was needed to explain the relationship between the relationship between work flexibility and better health.