Hybrid Working and Mental Health
on the surface and under your skin
Mental Wellbeing when Hybrid Working
It is really important to get the right balance with flexible and hybrid working arrangements to ensure a person’s mental health isn’t adversely affected. It seems a great idea, but the additional responsibility for managing a working routine away from the office, work colleagues and supervision is not for everyone. Some can learn this with supportive coaching, but for others, it may not be the right arrangement for them.
Fixed Working Routine
You may have employees that are 100% office based: accounts, telesales, reception and those sorts of roles that get their daily variety from the social interactions with their colleagues sat near them in the office. For employees in this category, working from home can be very lonely and isolating; even with Teams, Zoom and other video calls, it is not the same.
There are other employee categories that fall between these two, but these represent the main types that are likely to still be working from home.
Some people have a home office space, others are making do with what space they have. Not everyone is used to working from home and the separation between work and home life becomes more blurred and this is not an easy shift for some people.
Then you have individual characteristics that play a part – some people are self-starters and very motivated: setting a personal routine is easy for them and they can stick to it and compartmentalise work and home without too much issue. Others need continual guidance or reassurance, and left to their own devices they worry, procrastinate and push around the work that needs doing… then they worry more about what they haven’t done and may hide their challenges.
Mobile Working Routine
If you are out on the road visiting customers and this generates reports, sales quoting and other written information, then a blend of home working, a bit in the office and customer sites is quite a normal working practice. People in this category will probably adjust a little better to being restricted to only homeworking because they are used to working from home and being flexible.
It’s a complex balance – and it needs planning and good communication with those affected, and that’s 2-way communication to involve those it will affect. Being told you can’t work in the workplace at all can cause more anxiety than might first be anticipated. Much as a ‘work in the office only’ policy has drawbacks for those family responsibilities, large commutes and other lifestyle choices where they could be equally effecive with a few days working from home.
It all comes down to a good flexible and hybrid working procedure that’s well organised, thought through and communicated thoroughly.
Need Help with peoles mental wellbeing and hybrid working?
Call us on 01793 852951 or use one of the contact forms to get in touch
What Can I do to Help Improve Mental Wellbeing?
Keep in Regular Contact
Use Microsoft Team, Zoom, phones, WhatsApp or any other digital communication means to stay in touch. Encourage staff to contact each other for a catch-up, coffee break, over lunch, a team quiz. It’s the small things that count. Get used to using a webcam too – we like to see the people we are talking to: it helps to reconcile that we are not alone.
Exercise and Movement
Encourage staff to take regular exercise and set them fun challenges which they can share with each other. If you have the in-house capability someone could even run a daily exercise/warm over Zoom for everyone!
Talk to Your Team
Talk to your teams about it – together or individually. Most things verbalised are diluted and anything shared is halved. It’s the cheapest process and one that is often missed.
This very much applies to any staff furloughed – explain the reasons, bring your employees into the process so they understand what it is and why it’s being used – Employers didn’t ask for this, it was a situation put upon them that needs managing and fast. Keep both employed and furloughed staff in the picture then no one will worry by speculation.
Beyond these, you may want to consider some more structured checks, advice and support on people’s wellbeing, particularly if home working remains for a while. These could include:
- Wellbeing questionnaires
- Direct them to your mental health first aiders, if you have them
- Publicise an EAP program you have for staff
- Your Employer’s Liability insurers may offer a helpline as part of their service for staff to use
- For anyone struggling with their mental wellbeing, you may want to consider an Occupational Health Assessment which can be done over the phone or video link in these times
Do your Employees need more Help?
If you feel your employees are not coping with the isolation, working from home or lack of contact, and you have exhausted how you feel you can help, they may need some counselling or an occupational health assessment.
If you would like Safewell’s help with this, submit a contact form or pick up the phone to discuss with the Occupational Health Team on 01793 852951.