Self-scheduling may reduce stress and improve mental health

A Cochrane Systematic Review of ten studies on flexible working hours has revealed that workers who are able to make their own hours tend to be happier and less stressed than those with fixed schedules.

In total, the studies involved more than 16,600 people and the researchers found that workers who were allowed to self-schedule had healthier blood pressure levels, better sleep quality and fewer instances of mental illness than counterparts with rigid work hours.

Authors of the study noted a trend toward flexible scheduling in Europe. The practice is now common in Scandinavian countries and the UK recently passed legislation that allows parents of children under 16 to request from employers the privilege to make their own hours.

“Flexible working seems to be more beneficial for health and well-being where the individuals control their own work patterns, rather than where employers are in control,” said Clare Bambra, lead author of the review.

These results suggest that organizations with the ability to offer flexible working hours to employees may be effective in reducing workplace stress and strengthening employee performance. Additional benefits may include reduced healthcare costs due to lessened mental illness.

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