Wellbeing and hybrid work | Advantages, challenges, tips
June 8, 2022
March 21, 2023
The fact that the covid pandemic introduced the phrase “hybrid work” into our everyday vocabulary is yesterday’s news. If, however, you want to further expand your hybrid work model, deskbird has got you covered with this article. The switching between working from home and from our office is heavily present in our professional lives; 55% of British employers expect an increase in the amount of employees working remotely at least some days of the week. What is less talked about, although no less important, is how to maintain a healthy work-life balance and assure your employees’ wellbeing at the workplace －whether that is at the office or at home. What do we even consider under the term “wellbeing”? According to the World Health Organization (WHO) it is “a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing”. Let's dig deeper!
Why is wellbeing important?
Looking back at the definition proposed by WHO, we can quickly understand that wellbeing at work encompasses all spheres of one’s work day. Thus, it becomes clear that a happy workforce is a good workforce, and companies that have started to recognize that have been seeing impressive outcomes. The improvements go far beyond the minimized health-related absences. Employees whose physical and mental health needs are met at the workplace are much more likely to be more productive, engaged, and more importantly, are more likely to stay working for your company.
Advantages and challenges
While all of those reasons above instantly sound great, there are a couple of challenges putting a stop to achieving wellbeing at your (home)office. Home office or working on-site can pose different obstacles for your employees’ wellbeing and should thus be confronted in different ways . On the other hand, hybrid work has introduced various advantages to our professional lives, too.
Forget traffic jam
More than two years have passed since the pandemic started and while this may seem like a long time, think about how long your trip to work used to take you. Hybrid and remote work have saved us from wasting long hours in our car or on public transport commuting to work worrying that we’d come in late for a meeting. Another advantage coming from not having to commute every day is that we’ve been granted more free time. Plus , we spend less money on transportation , and with fewer vehicles on the road, we can perhaps hope for improved air quality in the near future.
Blurred work-life lines
No, we are not talking about Robin Thicke’s blurred lines (in fact, deskbird really stands for verbal consent), but rather about the struggle to maintain clear boundaries between our work and private lives . This especially occurs when we work and live at the same location, Employees report their difficulty drawing a clear line at the end of their work day, and keep checking work emails way after they have supposedly finished working. Longer working hours often lead to burnout and mental fatigue.
Building valuable work connections can be significantly harder if we are not actually present at the office where we can stop and chat with a new colleague at more or less any given moment. Working in an environment where we feel like we don’t belong or where we feel isolated from the people we work with, can have a huge impact on our mental wellbeing.
Technology is supposed to work for us, not against us. And yet, we often find ourselves being its prisoners as it makes its way into our professional and personal lives . For many, the work environment equals bright screens and notifications. And if that wasn’t so before the pandemic, then the rise of virtual meetings has made sure we’ve all heard of Zoom. These technological tools might have made our lives simpler, but are also the reason for our sore eyes and headaches. The latter are two main symptoms of the so-called tech or digital fatigue. As Vogue has pointed out, too much screen time can seriously harm the quality of our sleep, as it can suppress the “sleep” hormone, also known as melatonin.
When we are watching or reading something on our screens, we tend to blink significantly less and thus the tears are not evenly spread over our eyes to protect them.
Lack of transparency
In the work environment, employees often find it hard to talk about their mental health as there is a certain level of stigma surrounding it. One may feel shame, weakness or discrimination due to admitting to mental-health problems. A shocking statistic points out that when employers were asked to prioritize among 11 behavioral-health-focused initiatives, stigma ended up being the last one on the list.
However, this issue doesn’t have a dead end and there are various ways that employers can normalize the conversation about our physical and mental wellbeing, which we will discuss that more in detail in the next section.
How to Promote Wellbeing - 5 Tips
Create a routine
Everyone that has ever worked from their home office, has probably attended a meeting in their pajamas. We are all guilty of that, and as comfortable as our sleepwear may be, it can get in the way of detaching from work in the evening. Thus, our tip is to jump into work appropriate clothes once you start working and change into lounge wear after logging out for the day. This helps us mentally leave behind the work day and devote our time to family and friends.
When there are no colleagues around to have a lunch or a coffee break with, we can often simply forget to take a break from work, get up from our desk and have a little stretch. Not only is that bad for our posture, but it will also decrease our productivity over time. Research repeatedly shows how important stretching or taking a walk is for our general wellbeing. Hence the introduction of “quiet time” on Slack by many companies or even a mid-day meditation session to manage the stress and relieve any anxiety we may be feeling.
Rest your eyes
While digital fatigue is a serious contemporary problem and the overwhelming number of online meetings doesn’t seem to be diminishing, there are ways to fight this and give our sore eyes a little break. When possible, employers should encourage non-video communication which will allow people to turn off their cameras and rest their eyes on something else for the duration of the meeting. However, that is not always possible. Thus, investing in a matte screen filter, keeping the screen an arm’s length away from your face and using eye drops will all help you ease the pressure on your eyes.
Additionally , there are a number of apps that help us detach from our screen. This of course seems like a paradox －using technology in order to use less technology －but the app Forest does offer a pretty wholesome solution: the longer you avoid your phone, the more (real) trees you will grow.
Let your employees know you care about their wellbeing and that you’re ready to facilitate achieving it with them at the workplace. Schedule yoga, meditation or quiet time sessions in your employees’ work calendar throughout work weeks. Such an act signals that it is okay to take a break, that other co-workers are doing it too and the invitation for it is coming from an authority figure . As such, your employees will not forget to take a break even when they are working from home and then will return to their tasks fresher and more eager to work.
Let the employees manage their timetables
One of the main advantages of hybrid work and flexible work times is the possibility for each worker to adapt their schedules to their personal needs. For many years, having free afternoons that were meant to be spent with your family was the way to structure one’s workday. However, not all employees may have families and some may find a better work-life balance, if their mornings are free. We invite you to check out deskbird’s week planning feature and make sure your employees get to work at the time of the day when they feel the most motivated.
Creating a harmonious work-life balance is crucial and our wellbeing should not be compromised any step of the way. We are all trying to succeed professionally and be our best working self, thus pushing ourselves to the limits in order to reach our goals. While the hybrid working model may have brought some new challenges in terms of how we manage our time on and off work, it also brought along important advantages. As long as employers set a tone that proves they cherish their workforce’s mental and physical wellbeing, the team will turn out happier , while also achieving greater results.