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Employee Wellbeing: 7 Ways You Can Support The Wellbeing Of Hybrid And Office Workers

Employee Wellbeing: 7  Ways You Can Support The Wellbeing Of Hybrid And Office Workers
Submitted by Sowjisha on

The traditional office environment has undergone a significant transformation. With the rise of hybrid work models prevalent in many industries, employees are splitting their time between working from home and the office. This newfound flexibility offers a variety of benefits, but it also presents new challenges for employee well-being.

A recent study by Morgan McKinley found that 57% of employees globally want flexible work options as a benefit. While this indicates a strong preference for hybrid models, it's crucial to remember that managing two environments can lead to feelings of isolation, blurred work-life boundaries, and increased stress.

This is where proactive support for employee wellbeing becomes essential. By implementing specific strategies, organisations can ensure their hybrid and office workers feel supported, engaged, and able to thrive in this new normal.

Whilst many businesses have mandated returning to work in the office for 5 days a week, professionals are remaining firm about their desire to work from home and have adopted a hybrid model.

With these new work patterns, comes complexity - it's harder to monitor team members as the visual cues we often rely on aren't possible when working from home.

Here are 7 ways you can support your employees and drive engagement, morale and ultimately retention of key employees.

  1. The importance of communication
  2. Why you should give employees more flexibility
  3. The best ways you can increase support
  4. Make sure they recognise work and personal life boundaries
  5. How you can facilitate socialising between team members
  6. Consider rotating tasks between colleagues
  7. Performance management in a hybrid workplace

1. Communication is key

When working remotely, physical separation can lead to feelings of isolation and a disconnect from colleagues. Communication is the key to fostering a sense of connection and well-being in a hybrid team. The simplest act of asking team members, "How are you doing?" regularly can make a big difference. Scheduling daily virtual team meetings, even if brief, allows everyone to touch base and feel connected.

Offering a variety of communication channels is also crucial. Weekly email updates provide a clear and concise overview of important information. Short videos posted on the company intranet can offer a more personal touch and keep everyone informed. Regularly connecting through Slack, Google Chat, Microsoft Teams allows for real-time discussions and a more casual way to stay connected throughout the day.

By consistently using these communication channels, you can build trust within your team. This trust is essential for creating an environment where employees feel comfortable opening up about how they are truly feeling. Don't wait for problems to arise; be proactive in your support, check in on workload challenges, and overall well-being.

Finally, if an employee approaches you about their well-being, be prepared to listen actively. Remember to remain professional, calm, patient, and understanding throughout the conversation.

2. Finding the right balance

Never before have working practices been so widely disrupted. Most organisations adapted to this disruption effectively and efficiently, but others struggle with the hybrid model.

Even though, hybrid work model presents a unique opportunity to create a work environment that caters to individual needs and fosters a thriving team culture, it requires clear policies and open communication to ensure everyone feels supported and productive.

Setting clear expectations is the first step. This involves outlining which roles or departments are eligible for hybrid work arrangements and establishing a well-defined process for requesting them. Equipping managers with the necessary skills to oversee hybrid teams is crucial. Training can cover communication strategies, performance management in a remote setting, and fostering team collaboration.

Flexibility should be integrated with existing work arrangements. Define how hybrid work aligns with compressed workweeks or part-time schedules. Determine whether hybrid work will be formalised in contracts or remain an ad-hoc arrangement, and communicate this clearly to all employees. Finally, ensure your hybrid work policy aligns with existing policies on expenses, IT usage, homeworking, and data protection.

While flexibility is crucial, it's equally important to ensure employees have the tools and resources to succeed in a remote environment.

  • Offer guidance on setting up ergonomic workstations to minimise discomfort and promote long-term health.
  • Offer training on digital wellbeing, encouraging healthy habits around technology use to prevent burnout.
  • Discuss strategies to minimise distractions during working hours, like establishing dedicated workspaces and utilising noise-cancelling headphones when needed.
  • Be empathetic to the challenges faced by parents and carers working remotely. Discuss childcare options or flexible scheduling solutions to ease the burden and promote productivity.
  • Encourage open communication about any challenges employees experience with their home working setup. Be prepared to offer support and guidance where needed.

Building a shared vision requires an understanding of employee preferences for hybrid work arrangements.

  • Conduct surveys or hold focus groups to gather this information.
  • Establish specific work hours for remote employees to ensure clarity and prevent overwork
  • Offer different hybrid work schedules to cater to various needs.
  • List out core days when everyone must be in the office or flexible schedules with a set number of in-office days.
  • Determine if working from various locations is permitted or if employees should primarily work from home.
  • Ensure your hybrid work policy aligns with existing policies on expenses, IT usage, homeworking, and data protection.

3. Expanding wellbeing support for hybrid and office workers

While regular check-ins with managers are important, sometimes employees would prefer talking to someone who is not their direct line manager or team member. In this scenario, it is important to let your team members be aware of the resources available to them, such as:

HR as a Resource:  Highlight the role of HR as a confidential support system. Employees can approach HR for assistance with both professional and personal issues that may be impacting their well-being at work.

Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs):  If you don't already have one, consider establishing an EAP. EAPs provide a confidential and professional resource for employees to discuss personal concerns and challenges that may be affecting their work performance or overall well-being.

This form of well-being support programme offers your staff an outlet to discuss any personal problems or concerns they may be encountering, making them feel comfortable and able to talk about their issues.

4. Don’t forget: Encourage staff to take breaks

When working in the office, the boundaries between work and personal time are clear. You arrive and start your working day, you take breaks to get coffee, catch up with colleagues, and try to get out of the office at lunch, and then you pack up and depart for the day, leaving your work mindset behind (or you should be able to do all this at least!). These interruptions and interactions break up the day.

It may not be so simple for those who are working remotely - they feel like they should always be contactable when they are working from home. Therefore, you should encourage hybrid employees to take short breaks throughout the working day, every day.

It’s not feasible to expect your employees to be working constantly, even if they are in the comfort of their own homes. You wouldn’t expect it from your office-based workers, so encourage them to break regularly to keep their minds fresh and attentive! Not only will this improve employee wellbeing, but it will increase employee engagement as well - and boosted productivity may well follow on from that!

5. Facilitate socialising between team members

It is almost inevitable that employees will feel somewhat isolated from their colleagues, missing going out for drinks, stopping for a coffee, and chatting in the kitchen, or any such social interactions in a traditional office. The solution doesn't lie solely in replicating those in-person moments. The key is to create alternative opportunities for connection that are safe and inclusive for both remote and office-based team members.

In this scenario, the responsibility falls on management to facilitate some socialising. Here are some strategies to bridge the gap and facilitate safe socialisation:

Virtual Coffee Catch-Ups:  Schedule brief daily or weekly virtual coffee breaks using Zoom, Google Hangouts, or other platforms. This provides a casual space for both hybrid and office workers to connect and chat outside of a work context.

Variety is Key:  Recognise that "Zoom fatigue" is real. Combat this by incorporating other forms of communication, like instant messaging or group chats. Consider offering "non-video" coffee catch-ups where voice interaction is sufficient.

6. Explore the option of rotating workloads

Whilst the focus on well-being has primarily been on the current work environment and how we can all adjust to it, it’s important not to forget that your employees are all still carrying out their jobs - and this can be stressful enough as it is.

If you think that any of your team members are struggling to cope with their workload, could you help them by sharing some of their tasks with other employees? If some employees have transferable skills, this could be their time to shine and gain experience across other teams by helping out with their colleagues’ duties.

By proactively managing workload and fostering collaboration, you can help your team members, both hybrid and office-based, maintain a healthy work-life balance and achieve their goals.

7. Performance Management in a hybrid workplace

Performance management in a hybrid workplace requires adapting to new and smarter work arrangements with equally smart policies. To effectively assess employee performance, focus on outcomes rather than activity. Collaborate with employees to set clear, measurable goals (SMART goals), ensuring alignment with overall objectives.

Clear communication is crucial. Schedule regular check-ins, both one-on-one and team-wide, and use various communication channels like video calls, instant messaging, and project management tools to keep everyone connected.

Embrace a culture of continuous feedback. Use performance management software or surveys to facilitate regular feedback loops. Encourage self-assessment opportunities to empower employees to take charge of their own development.

Promote visibility and recognition by publicly acknowledging achievements and implementing peer-to-peer recognition programmes to build team spirit.

Foster a supportive environment by regularly assessing remote employees' needs and providing resources such as training, collaboration tools, and ergonomic equipment. Organise virtual team-building activities to maintain a strong sense of team cohesion.

Keeping your team's well-being on point

In conclusion, the well-being of your team members, both hybrid and office-based, should be at the forefront of your priorities as you navigate the hybrid work environment. By implementing the strategies outlined in this article—flexibility, open communication, confidential support options, and opportunities for social connection—you can create a work environment that fosters a sense of belonging, reduces stress, and empowers your employees to flourish.