is hybrid working mentally healthy for your people?

The word ‘hybrid’ has got to be up there as one of the most said words in the workplace this year, alongside the C word of course.

While a ‘hybrid approach’ may sound pretty cool and a lot more exciting than the standard five days a week, working 9-5 in the office, it comes with a range of pros and cons, particularly for workforce wellbeing. On that note, we urge employers to keep the following in mind when finalising their new-ways-of-working policies…

What's your definition of hybrid?

Which of the options below best describes your organisation’s hybrid approach?

Hybrid working can mean different things to different organisations. As employers, it’s important to be totally clear and upfront with your people on how your business see’s hybrid working and what is expected of them going forward.

Hybrid highs and lows

When planned carefully with employee’s needs taken into account, hybrid work models have the potential to boost staff wellbeing, but at the same time can have a detrimental impact on mental health. Let’s take a closer look...

Option A

Consistency – it’s something that workplaces have seriously lacked in recently (through no fault of their own!), yet it’s something that’s needed by many employees to thrive, particularly those that struggle with a mental illness.

This consistent approach enables employees to know exactly where they are meant to be day in, day out, what’s expected of them and can ultimately help them to feel secure about their work responsibilities and demands.

Downfall 👎

For those back to full-time office work, distractions are something that employers must be aware of. While your people may prefer to be back in a busy environment, chatty co-workers, unexpected desk drop-ins and noise interruptions can make it extremely challenging to stay productive.

As for the full-time WFH'ers – research has found that they’re more likely to suffer from loneliness, depression and anxiety than people working in person.

Option B

According to a recent survey, three-quarters of employees would prefer to split their week to spend half the time in the office and half working remotely. This approach is favoured by many and is a great way to experience the best of both worlds.

Perfectly put by the BBC, your people will have “structure and sociability on one hand, and independence and flexibility on the other” – all four elements are key to improving workplace mental health.

Downfall 👎

With employees working on-site and at home on different days, it can be difficult for them to maintain strong working relationships with colleagues and ultimately have a negative impact on company culture.

Option C

Giving employees total flexibility on where and when they work can be unnerving and comes with a degree of suspicion for many managers - if your people can pick and choose the hours they work, surely, they’ll simply choose to do less?!

Wrong. Research reveals that staff working flexibly in fact go beyond the call of duty and feel more motivated to work hard and to give back to the organisation – great for employers, right?! As for employees, they get to utilise their time better, boost productivity and benefit from a better work-life balance to protect their mental health.

Downfall 👎

Humans are undeniably creatures of habit, and as boring as it may sound, most like a good old routine. The downfall of full-time flexible working is that it can often lack in routine. With each day being different to the next, it may lead to staff anxiety, loss of focus, higher stress levels and in some cases, depression.

As mentioned above, flexible workers also feel the need to go above and beyond to prove that they’re really doing their work – this in turn can lead to employee burnout.

How to make hybrid working healthy for your people

So, there’s lots to think about when it comes to hybrid work approaches but above all, employee wellbeing must be made a top priority. That means:

  • Providing wellbeing training to all staff so that they can successfully manage a healthy work-life balance while hybrid working. This includes equipping them with the know-how on managing anxiety, effectively remote working, and stress awareness.

  • Reviewing employee’s needs and preferences on the regular. Line managers should actively check in with each employee, listen to any concerns about their current working set up and respond appropriately to ensure they can perform at their happiest and healthiest.

  • Don’t forget about team building and adapting it to meet the entire workforce. Regardless of whether your people are onsite or working remotely, team building is essential in making employees feel part of a supportive culture and has a huge impact on staff performance, stress levels and happiness.

  • Encourage and respect breaks – whether that be for those working in the office, at home, or a combo of both. It’s well documented that regular breaks = more energised, engaged, and happier employees.

Are you rethinking your workplace model? Here at Key Wellbeing, we can help you to adopt a healthy hybrid model, where your people can thrive. Get in touch, we'd love to hear from you!