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Hybrid working could save the NHS more than £4 billion per year

A major new study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research and Virgin Media O2 Business has found that the positive effects of hybrid working, ranging from more time for exercising to extra hours spent caring for family members, could save the NHS more than £4 billion per year.

Hybrid working could save the NHS more than £4 billion per year by giving workers more time to look after themselves and their families, according to a major new study*.

The Cebr calculated potential cost savings to the NHS by analysing how hybrid working could enable employees to work alongside caring for family and friends, helping deliver savings for government.

It found that working from home could free-up an average of 2 hours a day, with one in ten employees intending to use this extra time to care for family members.

When considering the average time non-parents spend caring for family members, the report reveals that 211 million hours could be unlocked through widespread hybrid working, resulting in a saving of £3.1 billion to the NHS every year.

The study also uncovered that flexible working could unlock further cost savings for the health service by giving employees more time to exercise. Two in five (41%) of those surveyed said they are already, or would, exercise more if they could work flexibly, reducing the UK’s level of adult inactivity by a third. This could significantly reduce the incidence of severe health conditions including heart disease, diabetes and various cancers, helping save lives as well as NHS treatment costs worth £1 billion per year. Hybrid working is also helping boost employees’ mental health, with 82% reporting that time working away from the office has been positive for their mental wellbeing while 79% say that their physical health has improved.

Employees also reported feeling more productive (36%), more in control of their work (34%), trusted (26%) and empowered (27%), while 20% said they felt less distracted when working from home.

Jo Bertram, Managing Director, Business and Wholesale at Virgin Media O2, said: “Hybrid working provides an opportunity to create happier, healthier employees that are more connected to the people around them.

“With employees and employers aligned on the benefits of hybrid working, organisations that embrace it will sprint ahead by attracting top talent, boosting productivity and creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

“Organisations large and small need to embrace flexible working as an essential part of modern life and build on their momentum by committing to a hybrid digital future. That investment in technology will help boost the bottom line and give everyone in society the opportunity to bounce back stronger.”

In addition, the report found that:

  • An increase in hybrid working could bring 3.8 million people previously unable to work back into the workforce and could boost GDP by £48 billion annually as part-time workers increase their working hours.
  • Nearly half of the UK’s 8.6 million part-time employees would increase their working time if their employer would let them work remotely, leading to 1.27 billion more hours worked annually.
  • Part-time employees could earn an extra £3,600 every year, or £69 every week, while those who act as informal carers say they could work up to 7 additional hours per week which would earn them an additional £92 every week, or £4,800 annually.
  • Investment in technologies which enable hybrid working and digital innovation could add £76 billion in GDP to the UK economy by 2025 and drive an uplift of £236 billion by 2040.

The report also reveals both employers and employees share similar views on hybrid working and both recognise many positive aspects of working more flexibly 18 months after lockdown restrictions were first imposed.

Employees report being more productive (36%), more in control of their work (34%), feel trusted (26%) and empowered (27%) with 20% of workers less distracted when working at home.

According to the research, business leaders share employees’ enthusiasm for hybrid working with more than two thirds (69%) believing changes to working policies driven by Covid-19 will be made permanent. This has been motivated by growing demand among employees for better work-life balance with 85% reporting that working remotely offers them additional leisure time to relax, see family and friends or spend time pursuing hobbies.

There is close alignment between organisations and their people on what they view as the optimal working arrangement in future, too. Employees now expect to work remotely 2.5 days per week, while company leaders also expect employees to work remotely about half of the week (2.3 days).

*Study from Virgin Media O2 Business and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr).

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