Has your organisation adopted a hybrid working pattern? Welbot’s Mykay Kamara explains how you can support the wellbeing of your hybrid workers.
A widespread shift to home and remote working has paved the way for the growth of hybrid working — a structure that accommodates working remotely, working from a shared location and blending both as is practical and desirable. The increased adoption of hybrid working is, in large part, driven by wellbeing motivations. The demand for innovative, elastic and safe working conditions that allow colleagues to stay connected is high, and hybrid teams are one possible means of satisfying that demand.
Workers’ appetite for flexibility was let loose at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic continues, though we are in a very different place from where we were and know a lot more than we did in March 2020. Hybrid working is practicable for an enormous variety of organisations and workers and has proven to be an effective tool in supporting productivity, creativity and employee wellbeing amid trying times.
Making hybrid working work at your workplace takes planning. Take note of this practical advice to better navigate the challenges associated with managing this change from a wellbeing perspective.
- Distributed teams can vary enormously, so there is no single solution or framework that you can apply to your team. View this as an opportunity to establish practices and structures that are tailored to your organisation and make amplifying the wellbeing of your workforce an essential component of operations. You don’t have traditional office norms to lean on; you don’t have traditional office norms to hold you back. To keep your practices and policies strong and effective, review and revise them continually to ensure they support the best environment for your organisation.Where possible, be responsive to the varied needs of different teams and departments. State your flexible work policies clearly and make sure they are available and visible to your whole staff. Clarity is your best weapon against uncertainty. One Welbot client implemented a hybrid four-day work week in 2021. They communicated the changes clearly and took employee recommendations seriously, making sure to keep company culture a priority in their operations and wellbeing considerations. Through the Welbot management reporting system, they were able to quantify the impact this change had on employee morale: In the first month of the new work structure, positive mood responses increased to 84% from a monthly average of 75%. This trend continued and increased, with users reporting 91% positive mood over the subsequent three months.
- Ergonomic working is not a phenomenon limited to the office. Employees should be educated as to how they can set up their remote workstation correctly in order to maintain good musculoskeletal health, prevent fatigue, eliminate hazards and support a productive environment. In addition to clear guidance on how to set up workstations, employees should be provided with the equipment that will allow them to create those healthy home working arrangements. Depending on the worker and the role, this is likely to include adjustable ergonomic chairs that reduce strain on the spine, neck and hips and second monitors and keyboards that alleviate common strain associated with extended time using a laptop.
- Remote teams can be at risk of missing out on the benefits of office-based wellbeing initiatives such as on-site gyms, healthy canteens and fitness classes. Investment into employee wellbeing needs to go beyond the confines of the office and provide support and assistance to remote staff too. Digital technology can be used to deliver initiatives traditionally kept in the office to workers wherever they may be and can incorporate familiar and much needed aspects of traditional office life into remote workers’ schedules: regular breaks, transitions between work and home, catch ups with colleagues. Be clear about the purposes of your digital wellbeing technology and note if any data will be kept and how it will be used. Employees are wary of surveillance, but very open to sharing data with their employer if it is for the improvement of their wellbeing. A holistic wellbeing approach is advisable in order to deliver the best benefits to your entire workforce, especially when a hybrid work structure is in place. Health intervention technology that can effectively respond to your colleagues’ needs and prompt them to take healthy actions throughout their day, wherever they are working, goes a long way toward building healthy habits and demonstrates a commitment to improving their working lives.
- When colleagues have varied structures to their work patterns, communication can break down and isolation can creep in for remote workers. Distribution across time zones, changing schedules and reliance on web tools to connect and collaborate add complexity to even simple conversations. And when some workers are in a physical location together and can speak in person, details and decisions can fall between the cracks leaving some team members out of the loop.Workers who work remotely at least some of the time, and particularly those workers who exclusively work remotely, need to be included as very much part of the team. Relationships can bloom when people share an office, boosting collaboration and creativity. That’s great. It can be difficult to prevent remote workers from feeling like they are on the outside looking in. Make sure everyone feels like they are part of the same team. Include remote workers in brainstorming sessions, check-in regularly about what is happening with their tasks and life beyond work, and ensure that expressing uncertainty, confusion, creativity and passion is encouraged for all of your colleagues whatever their work pattern.
Achieve a better work-life balance
Hybrid working can allow your colleagues to devote more of their personal time to exercise, seeing friends and family, pursuing hobbies and being present parents. Reduced days in the office can also save money that would have been spent on commuting and can reduce an organisation’s carbon footprint. The possibilities for what hybrid working could look like at your organisation are enormously varied. What is clear is that some form of hybrid is in demand for a huge proportion of workers. They see it as a means of achieving a better work-life balance and improved overall wellbeing at work and at home.
Manage change effectively
Understanding the nuances of this emerging structure can help your organisation to provide a workplace that goes beyond the traditional. Managing this change effectively, ensuring that the hybrid structure you put in place is suitable for your organisation can do wonders for your organisation in the long run.
Find out more about workplace wellness
Welbot is an innovative, evidence based corporate workplace wellness platform designed to improve employee health and wellbeing whilst in the office or when working remotely from home.