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Employee wellbeing has been growing as a priority for some years and, following the onset of Covid-19, is now at the forefront of organisations’ policies around the globe. As offices continue to open up and restrictions ease, combining home working and office working will be essential. This hybrid working model will present new challenges and require empathetic leaders, flexibility, and open communication. Here we’ll highlight how you can achieve the right balance for your employees going forward.
The Adecco Group’s 2021 Resetting Normal survey explored the future of work, revealing how leaders and employers can pave the way towards healthy hybrid models. 53% of workers surveyed want to continue with a balance of remote and office work. This differs depending on age or home life. For example, those with children prefer more time working in the office than those without, suggesting that parents want to have a clear definition between work and personal time. Younger workers also want more time in the office. Mentorship, structured onboarding, and socialising play a large role here. The key is to remain flexible and to provide autonomy for employees to set the schedule that works best for them.
As well as the benefits of flexibility through remote working, half of workers surveyed saw an improvement in their work/life balance. Home working has highlighted the need for a rethink of the traditional work week and how productivity is measured. Rather than presenteeism, the quality of work produced should be the focus. Working less hours while maintaining productivity leads to a healthy work/life balance and in turn improves employee wellbeing.
How can you make sure your employees’ needs are being met? It’s simple – listen. Their experiences and challenges over the past two years can drive progress in the way you work. Because you are dealing with individuals, a one size fits all strategy won’t cut it. Implement an empathetic, holistic approach to foster a culture of support and understanding.
Burnout is fast becoming a critical issue in offices around the globe, with people spending more time working and the lines between home life and work life becoming increasingly blurred. A lack of mental health support results in low productivity and a drop in job satisfaction. Changes in work routines brought on by the pandemic have caused isolation and increased stress. As a leader you can help by providing mental health support, even with a hybrid working model.
Although mental health has certainly become a prime concern for many organisations, and attitudes are improving, stigma around the issue remains. A survey by The Priory revealed that 80% of workers would be concerned about an employer’s reaction if they discussed struggles with mental health. The 2021 Resetting Normal study found that only half of workers feel their manager is supporting their work/life balance.
To tackle this, encourage open communication. Share your own struggles to show it is acceptable for others to do the same. Create a safe workspace, both physically and virtually. Within the office, post the latest guidelines and health measures. Have a quiet room, where employees can switch off or work in peace. Create an online portal with links to useful resources, such as counselling or internal wellbeing programs and make sure everyone has all the necessary equipment for safe home working.
As a leader, you set the tone for workplace culture. Especially now, as we shift towards a hybrid model, how you behave has a ripple effect, shaping the working environment for those around you. Moreover, your mental health matters just as much as your team’s. Take care of your own wellbeing with the following steps, and your employees will follow your lead.
Last year saw predictions of the death of the office. However, as the end of 2021 approaches it’s clear that adapting the office space, rather than scrapping it, will be the way forward. Some changes have already been implemented and are now expected, such as reduced maximum occupancy in lifts or having video conference equipment in every meeting room. The question is, how to use the office space effectively in the new normal. This means creating hybrid meeting rooms, which are big enough for those physically present, while being video conference ready. Hot desks should be set up to cater for employees who are only coming in for part of the day. Prioritising collaboration space will be key, as this will be a major function of the office. Making these changes, while continuing with a Covid-19 safe workplace, will create an environment which promotes wellbeing and helps ease employees into hybrid working.
Following the upheaval of the past two years, the shift to hybrid work isn’t so drastic, but it is how you make this shift that will impact its success. Lead with empathy, encourage open discussions and listen to individual needs. By prioritising your own wellbeing, you set a positive example for your team. This way, you can ensure a smooth transition for everyone and make hybrid working healthy working.