Support Mental Wellbeing In A Hybrid Working Model
Over the past year, there has been so much uncertainty and upheaval. For so many of us, our working lives have been greatly affected with many having gone from working in the office full time – to then working at home full time – to now facing the prospect of returning to the office over 12 months later.
For many, the benefits of remote working have been great. For some, the lack of social interaction and insecurity faced during the pandemic has been difficult.
So how do businesses make it work for their employees during this new transition of returning to the office? The flexibility of being able to both work remotely and from the office is referred to as hybrid working. Many businesses are considering hybrid working as the next step for their employees.
This solution has many benefits. Employees can ease into the return of office working, helping them get to grips with a new routine and acclimatise. However, it will still require support from their employer. It’s important to highlight that a one size fits all approach to mental health will not be suitable. Let’s explore how employers can support mental wellbeing as businesses move to hybrid working.
Support Mental Wellbeing In A Hybrid Working Model
Hybrid working will cause a huge culture shift for many businesses. Statistics from the CIPD have shown that 40% of employers expect more than half of their workforce to work regularly from home after the pandemic has ended. This has increased from 5% prior to the pandemic.
The new ‘normal’ will feel quite different for everyone, just as it did a year ago when the transition from office to remote working occurred. The good news is that there are many benefits to hybrid working for businesses. These can include:
Financial savings on office space
Higher levels of employee satisfaction
Reduced absence rates
For the employees, hybrid working may support improved employee wellbeing through:
Better work–life balance
Greater ability to focus with fewer distractions
More time for family and friends
Saved commuting time and costs
Higher levels of employee motivation
The difficulty in any transition is the initial stages when people have to change their routines. So how can employers support the mental wellbeing of their staff during the transition to hybrid working?
Communication is Key
It will be vital for employers to understand the specific preferences of their staff for the future. Asking for feedback and opinions will mean plans can be drawn up to consider what employees want and feel comfortable with.
A good communication plan will be vital in ensuring the transition is smooth and that people feel supported. Communication can be through phone calls, face to face, emails and by making use of technology and apps such as chat functions. These allow people to have more flexibility in their calendars as well as their locations.
Online meetings can lead to fatigue, which was reported at the peak of the pandemic. A more flexible and casual approach should mean communication is more effective. Large meetings or business updates should still be held online however as this will help ensure that each attendee can attend no matter where they are.
Provide Wellbeing Resources
It will be important to remind employees what resources are available for their wellbeing and health. Businesses will need to ensure that managers are equipped with the knowledge of what resources are available, how to gain access to them and that they promote these to their employees.
They should offer training and support on digital wellbeing and having healthy habits in relation to technology use, including helping employees to mindfully disconnect and manage their work-life balance.
Create Wellbeing ‘Champions’
A great idea is to use a network of employees who can be the “eyes, ears and voice” of the company’s well-being strategy. These employees should promote well-being activities and initiatives and ensure that hybrid working is working inclusively and working effectively for employees of all areas and levels.
It will be important that first line managers will be equipped with understanding the potential signs and symptoms of poor wellbeing or mental health, as these may be weaker whilst employees are working in a remote or hybrid way. It is also important to help managers to understand the potential wellbeing implications of hybrid working and equipping them to have appropriate wellbeing conversations.
Set ‘Flexible Boundaries’
This is key to making sure hybrid working will work for people and their circumstances. While some employees thrive from a flexible approach to work, others prefer set work times, locations, and rules.
Provide support to those employees who opt for a more structured way of working by agreeing set days that they are allocated to come into the office and regularly check in with them to review how they are adapting to this new way of working.
Adapt the Office Space
Many businesses have reduced their office space as a result of a more limited workforce in the office. Some have adapted by adding more space for meetings and collaboration, where employees can meet and exchange ideas on the days that they are in the office.
This is a great initiative to support hybrid working. However some employees will want to use the office as their place to get quiet time and work away from the stress of family life. This also needs to be considered.
Hybrid working certainly will have many benefits to many employees and employers. However, if employers want their employees to embrace the new ‘normal’ then they need to ensure they manage this new transition effectively – communicating and connecting, training and supporting and considering the needs, feelings and wellbeing of all employees. If handled well, employees will feel invigorated and ready to embrace their new routine and working style. If you’re looking to get a more holistic view of your employee wellbeing, hug can help. A free, 15 minute demo can show you how. Please request your demo by clicking here today.