Head of Workplace Wellbeing, MIND
Thousands of people are now working from home, either some or all of the time. But how is hybrid working impacting our mental health?
Since the pandemic, many office-based workplaces have changed in ways we wouldn’t have thought possible. There are some major benefits to hybrid working, the most significant of which is flexibility. Through that flexibility, people can achieve a greater level of work-life balance by working in a way that best supports them to thrive at work.
It also allows a greater sense of control, which can help our mental health and wellbeing. Being able to manage your time effectively — for both in-work and outside-work priorities — can help ease worries and stress. We have found that this sort of benefit means that employees report improved mental health and wellbeing.
What are the drawbacks of hybrid working?
The greatest challenge in implementing any hybrid working policy is based on individual and personal preferences. Everyone does their best work in different environments. Everyone has a different flexibility requirement or preference — as well as various personal circumstances.
For example, younger people are less likely to have enough space to work at home, particularly if they live in shared accommodation. Having an office to work from can ease that stress and make their lives much easier.
Many employees working remotely are anxious that they might have reduced opportunities to network with senior members of staff or opportunities to develop, for example by volunteering for stretch projects. This concern is supported by research undertaken by the Work Foundation and CMI which found 23% thought access to stretch projects would decrease through hybrid working. If access to such opportunities is lower for remote workers than for those working on-site, this could potentially create a two-tier workplace.
The greatest challenge in implementing any hybrid
working policy is based on individual
and personal preferences.
Employers should find out what works for their employees
Many employers have moved to a hybrid model of working whereby staff split their time between the office and their homes. However, this is another routine change which requires employers to carefully implement, regularly communicate and listen to staff feedback.
Regardless of the working model, employers and line managers need to set clear expectations for their employees, communicate new ways of working with clarity and ensure that employee support remains available and easily accessible. All employers should offer flexibility to their staff so that they can fit existing commitments around their work — which can keep them happy and well.