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Cristina Artico

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Healthy, happy staff are the key to hybrid working success

Cristina Artico provides tips and advice on how to make hybrid working a success and ensure high levels of employee wellbeing across the workforce.

Covid catapulted the workplace into the digital age. It was a hard landing for many and remote working was never meant to be a long-term thing.

Two years in and hybrid working is the norm – a panacea for some but a nightmare for many, triggering burnout and exhaustion as working from home rapidly became living at work.

So how do we successfully blend the two to the greatest benefit of workers and employers?

Mental health is the foundation of everything

The key to the whole scenario is a workforce that is happy and healthy in their mental wellbeing.

Mental health sits at the foundation of everything. We know that workplaces are more likely to flourish when they’re psychologically safe and able to support employees within the new working environment.

Working from home rapidly became living at work.

But that new landscape will be different for a range of diverse personalities and circumstances – a one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to work for everyone.

Young employees in small apartments and empty nesters may crave the sociability of an office environment, while staff with children in the suburbs may be happy to work from home all week – flexibility and choice are important.

Your people are unique

Working successfully with these varied viewpoints is all about creating a framework that is truly flexible. You need to ask yourselves: “How do we make our people feel safe, engaged and motivated? How do we ensure they have the energy and resilience to keep going in this new environment?”

If the conversation is merely, “Is it two days in the office or three?”, then you’re heading down the wrong track. Flexible working is not about where you work or when you work, but how you work.

The success of a business depends on its people, not where they park their laptop on a daily basis – it’s how they feel about the work that really matters.

Opportunity to experiment

It may take some time to create the model that works for you. Embrace this as an opportunity to experiment and resist making rash final decisions.

Flexible working is not about where you work or when you work, but how you work.

Trying a number of different iterations and setups can be beneficial. Encourage feedback and collaboration – this way you can establish what works for your business and your staff.

Most importantly, be aware of any pressures on individuals. Hear their concerns or worries, even if they don’t articulate them audibly. Sense and measure the atmosphere and offer practical assistance.

Tackle issues with training

Since the start of the pandemic, requests to deliver burnout and resilience programmes have soared, as companies have become increasingly conscious of the impact of pressures on teams striving to navigate the new environment.

Using such training can be enormously beneficial for firms who not only have a duty to take care of staff wellbeing, but want to ensure they retain good staff who are enthusiastic and invested in the business.

Five steps to workplace wellbeing

  1. Create psychologically safe environments so people can speak freely about mental health without fear or stigmatisation.
  2. Support peoples’ time and space for personal development even when working apart.
  3. Model behaviours as leaders. Work bleeds into the time that we used to have for leisure, and people need help switching off. Turn off company laptops and phones from a designated time and announce that you're finishing for the day.
  4. Healthy mind platter: variety in our working week manages our energy levels. 
  5. Open lines of communication – don't just message people on slack saying "can we talk", that can induce anxiety. Take the time to check in properly and give clear instructions and feedback.

In spite of the challenges and big decisions that lie ahead, this era of hybrid working has the potential to be a period of real growth for businesses.

Listen to the wants and needs of your people and reconcile them with what your company needs in order to prosper. In doing this you can empower employees to thrive and build a system that is truly flexible – a workplace that works for everyone.

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