How a Healthy Lifestyle can Lead to Higher Productivity

There are various lifestyle choices, which can help you lead a more productive life. Exercise helps brain development, eating healthy is linked to workplace productivity, and good mental health leads to higher productivity. Various controlled studies have found that if a person exercises for as little as 20 minutes a day, the hippocampus part of the brain responds strongly and thus becomes more active – with memory-boosting and higher concentration effects.

Another study by the International Labor Organization finds that adequate nourishment can raise national productivity levels by 20%. A happy person is a productive person. However, for many of us, these are the areas that are often neglected due to having an opposing, unhealthy work-life balance.

Work-life balance to higher productivity

Hong Kong has consistently topped the rankings for the city with the worst so-called work-life balance. Hong Kong is closely followed by Mumbai, Mexico City, New Delhi and Bangkok. A study by financial services company UBS conducted in 2015 found that people in Hong Kong work on average 50.1 hours a week. That’s 38% more hours than the global average. This revelation becomes even more disheartening for these workers. They only enjoy a mere 17 days annual leave for all of their hard work.

Are all these extra hours and minimum days off proving to be more productive for businesses? In the long run, the short answer is no. The real issue is the detrimental impact this kind of poor work-life balance is having on workers. There is actually a scientific link between work-life balance, employee engagement and productivity – a more balanced work-lifestyle can lead to higher productivity.

According to a study by the Corporate Leadership Council, people who feel they have good work-life balance work 21% harder than those who don’t. Workers who feel they have some flexibility in how they do their tasks and take care of their home and life responsibilities respond in a proactive way that encourages them to engage and do more. In the academic world, this is termed the Social Exchange Theory. An employer or organization offers benefits or incentives to the employee, and the employee reciprocates in the form of going above and beyond the call of duty.

Contrastingly, studies have found the negative effects of poor work-life balance can lead to reduced work effort and performance. It can also lead to increased absenteeism and turnover, reduced health and energy, and increased stress.

Improving your workplace health

Finding that work-life balance is a strategy of adjustments to work and life that allows you or your team to feel responsibilities are under control. Many organizations are now investing in employee engagement, development and wellbeing programs, installing good workplace health practices and initiatives and generally providing support and advice to all employees that seek it. Individuals should also know how to take control of their own physical and mental wellbeing and work-life balance.

Productivity growth

Communication and the value of choice is often the key. If employees have a sense of feeling valued and trusted, this can become some of the most powerful factors in engagement and productivity levels. Increased autonomy and self-responsibility, as research suggests, can also satisfy psychological needs, making people feel competent and wanting to do more. More individuals and organizations are now choosing to work from co-working spaces, which appear to provide many of these solutions to improve workplace health.

People thrive in co-working spaces

Research suggests that the combination of a well-designed work environment and a well-curated work experience, are part of the reason people who work in co-working spaces demonstrate higher levels of thriving than their traditional office-based counterparts. The trend of co-working spaces is becoming a viable alternative to the traditional office. They allow people to have more flexibility in their schedule, self-responsibility, job control and autonomy. It’s a space that allows people to come and go freely. It’s a space that allows to network with like-minded people they may not normally have the chance to meet. Freelancers and individuals, who wouldn’t usually feel part of a community, can be in such an environment.

However, larger corporations are beginning to become involved too. Globoforce’s 2014 Mood Tracker Report reports that 89% of respondents say that work relationships matter to their overall quality of life. Socialising isn’t compulsory or forced into these spaces. Members can choose when and how to interact with others. Overall, this can be a great boost for workers’ mental health. From the modern decor, focus on sustainable design, and events to the optional socializing before, during and after working hours, many are starting to take advantage of this. And the flexible working hours and working locations that co-working provides, as one way to improve that ever-elusive balance in work and personal life.


Individuals can place focus on exercise and diet, however, a huge part of having an all-around healthy lifestyle, is to have a healthy work-life balance. Importantly, this can help to keep mental health in shape as well. The real issue is that many workers around the world face the challenge of finding that work-life balance. Organizations should be doing more to ensure a shift in the culture. This could also mean a shift in productivity levels. Traditional workplaces could learn from co-working spaces that provide the space and support for workers to be their authentic selves. They’ll have the flexibility and autonomy – ultimately leading to higher productivity levels in the long run.

It has been found that co-working is not just good for work, but for well-being too. Organizations can also invest in well-being programs and should generally be creating a work culture where open communication is encouraged and the stigma of mental health is reduced. There are far more complex factors impacting our happiness, fulfillment and overall lifestyle. However, nutrition, exercise, open communication, support and shared workspaces can provide at least some of the solutions to your well-being needs, leading to a more productive lifestyle.

Fiona Murray
Fiona Murray is an MSc Digital Marketing graduate and writer based in Scotland. An enthusiast for all things digital and travel related, Fiona has experience living and working in the UK, USA, and Asia, and has traveled extensively in order to further her experiences of other cultures. Found out more about her on LinkedIn.
Fiona Murray

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