If you were no longer able to work from home, would you think twice about staying in the same job? In a recent survey by Forbes which reviewed work life in the post-pandemic world, 58% of those interviewed said they would look for a new job if a WFH option was taken off the table. And it’s understandable. COVID-19 forced us into a global work from home experiment, with employers and employees alike having to navigate a new normal and realising that it came with huge benefits; the extra time at home allowed many to reflect on what’s important in life, what they want from their careers and more importantly, how they view health.
That said, the time at home saw polarities emerge. Some people experienced more work-life balance, including less stress, reduced anxiety, and more time for hobbies. Yet on the flip side, many experienced a decline in their mental health, increased stress, a loss of human connection and weight gain.
So the question is, how can companies create a workplace that supports all the positives of the above and diminishes the negatives? What does it take for an environment to embody a work life balance, employee wellbeing, and one where employees can still feel connected to one another?
Enter the ‘Hybrid’ working model, a blend of working from home and in the office which many companies across the world are now adopting. Is this what the future of the workplace looks like to more accurately accommodate employee wellbeing? And how can companies ensure this Hybrid model is working effectively?
These are questions that have been on the “People” agenda for a long time, yet in the last two years the overall topic of wellbeing has risen to become a major focus, and one that employers can no longer treat simply as a tick box exercise.
As a company that provides a space for wellness professionals to operate on their terms, most of whom have opted for a hybrid model, we also practice this as a company by giving our team the freedom and flexibility to work in a way that is best for them. So here we’ve put together our recommendations for creating a hybrid model that supports wellbeing and maintains a connected culture.
Companies often implement solutions and processes without asking first what the employees really want or need. The intention is well meaning, yet often the results are ineffective. Find out what support they need and what will be most helpful, and take steps to implement them.
Connection and belonging is a basic human need according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and for the hybrid model to be effective, employees need to be in the office on the same days to foster that all important sense of connection. Agree set days for the team to be in the office, and create an environment that allows for them to interact.
With more than 50% of employees’ time spent working from home, the working environment is SO important. Take time to review with each person their set up, both from a Health & Safety and work/life perspective. Does the employee have enough space to separate their working area from their living area? Overlap can create overwhelm and stress, so see if there is anything the company can offer to alleviate if this is the case.
To continue to build team connection, team events of both the formal and informal kind are super important. Formal events can include team building and organised games and conferences, whereas informal get togethers can be more ad hoc, such as drinks, workouts and networking.
Adopt a hybrid learning approach, both in person and online. When employees need support or information, they want it now. Much like we search Google for the answers, employees should be able to access learning at the touch of a button. There is still a place for in-person training, and this helps to keep the team connected and engaged on a consistent basis.
The most simple yet effective solution is to keep the conversation flowing. Simply asking the questions “how are you?” and “how can we support you?” are two of the most overlooked yet powerful questions.
Review what you have in place to support employee wellbeing, and remember that both mental and physical health are equally as important. It is no longer acceptable to just provide private medical health care and access to a gym. Companies are increasingly becoming more creative with their approach, providing access to massages, Coaches, Personal Trainers and health checks to name a few. Here at Until we support firms of all sizes with their employee wellbeing programmes, by connecting their employees with our leading wellness professionals for everything from Personal Training and Physio to Counselling and Life Coaching.
The shift to hybrid working doesn’t look like it will be going anywhere anytime soon, so a combination of the above should help to create a solid foundation when it comes to this new working environment.