Monday 1st July 2024
Hybrid working and mental health | Condeco

Research by the British Chambers of Commerce Insights Unit and technology firm Cisco revealed that less than 30% of UK firms expect their workforce to fully return to the workplace over the next five years.  

Jane Gratton, Deputy Director of Public Policy at the BCC, said: 

“Our data shows that hybrid working is now part of the fabric of the modern workplace. This flexibility is valued by employers and their teams. Flexible working makes good business sense. In a tight labor market where employers are competing for skilled workers, hybrid working and flexible working more generally have become important parts of staff benefit packages.” 

Successfully implementing a hybrid work model is now easier than ever for companies looking to put their employees first. By utilizing workspace booking technology, you can effectively address the difficulties that come with having a dispersed team and make hybrid work a key factor in promoting a more content and efficient work environment. 

Although this research originates from the UK, attitudes towards hybrid working are not dissimilar elsewhere. Many affirm the link between hybrid work and employee mental health, and it’s easy to see why. From a better work-life balance to employee autonomy, the improvement in wellbeing because of hybrid work is an obvious conclusion to draw.   


What is hybrid working? 

Hybrid working recognizes the benefits of having a business that operates both from an office and at home or other external locations. Typically, people may spend three days at home a week and two days in the office. Alternatively, they could choose to work from home for an entire month and then the next entirely in the office. This flexibility allows employees to decide where to do their job to be at their most productive.  


Breaking free from the commute 

Let’s face it — most of us have busy lives. Work, family, and leisure all compete for our time and attention. Since work pays for the other two, it often gets priority and can quickly start dominating our waking hours, even at the expense of our mental health and well-being.   

Before the rapid expansion of work-from-home policies, when most of us spent every day in an office, many of us lost a good chunk of the time in our day commuting. While there have always been the lucky few who enjoyed an easy 15-minute walk or bus ride to the office, for many daily commutes could mean as many as four hours per day spent in the car. Climbing gas prices, delays in public transit, and bad weather can all add to the negative experience. Many experienced higher stress, burnout, and bad sleep after late dinners, followed by early alarms. 

Workplace flexibility can mitigate these stressors and get us off that never-ending treadmill. By balancing days in the office with days working remotely, we can still enjoy getting time back that we otherwise would have spent commuting and channel it into being more productive and focused on our work. It could also be a time to read a good book or listen to an engaging podcast that feeds the mind and soul. 


Where working from home falls short 

Our home tends to be where we feel safest and most relaxed. But as a place to work, it may not be the best choice for our mental wellbeing.   

Without a regular change of scenery, we start thinking in confined spaces — we can get caught up in our heads and struggle to cope with stress, getting weighed down by challenges big and small. Home can also be isolating, particularly for those who live alone or in small spaces. Regular human interaction is pivotal to emotional wellbeing and interconnectedness — whether that’s having a colleague nearby to offer an opinion or advice on work challenges or just being able to chat about the day’s news. Home can also be a place where children demand attention, or dogs need walking. Add this to the stresses of work, and it no longer feels like a place of refuge.   

And, of course, we’re likely all familiar with the tech-related challenges that arise from working from home. With everyone dialing in from their home networks, there’s always the risk that someone’s connection will lag. Frustration from being behind colleagues regarding technology can lead to mounting stress, whereas everyone’s access to properly functioning technology and connectivity is equal in an office.   


Why hybrid working…works  

Existing within extremes can destabilize an employee’s mental wellbeing. Five days in the office or five days at home can quickly become a grind. Hybrid working is not without its downsides, but it can deliver the best of both worlds and allow people to work wherever they feel the most productive.   

Need to get your head down and focus on your job without distractions? A quiet home can be the ideal choice. Need to come up with ideas and share views with colleagues? While online video calls can work in a pinch, it’s hard to beat the value of face-to-face meetings, where people can bounce ideas off one another and come up with solutions together. 


5 advantages of hybrid working that improve employee wellbeing  

Many workspaces haven’t returned to their pre-pandemic routines of everyday commutes, with a 47.8% office occupancy rate compared to pre-pandemic levels. Instead, the post-pandemic work environment has embraced a hybrid work model. 

That said, applying this model requires substantial tailoring to employer and employee needs. When done right, a hybrid work model can increase productivity, engagement, and other crucial KPIs.  

So why exactly is hybrid increasingly so popular across the population? As with anything, the specific reasons vary from person to person, but those reasons overwhelmingly have at least one thing in common. Flexible work options give employees more freedom, autonomy, and opportunity to build their schedules around their individual lives, resulting in higher job satisfaction and overall well-being.  


1. Better communication 

 Hybrid models allow individuals to reap the benefits of both work environments. It enables people to work from home when they require uninterrupted focus on individual projects and to join the office on specific days and for tasks that necessitate in-person collaboration. This approach enables a flexible and balanced work environment, accommodating diverse work styles and optimizing productivity 

When it comes to workplace structures, both extremes — fully remote and five days a week in-office — create challenges in communication. As we all know, teams that communicate exclusively via a computer screen miss out on key benefits that only spending time in person can offer. Meeting face-to-face creates opportunities for collaboration and idea-sharing that virtual work simply cannot replicate, and being in an office amongst colleagues fosters the kinds of social interactions that help build a company culture. Equally, a 100% remote policy can hinder productivity and communication for some employees. Offices, for all their benefits, can also be filled with distractions, from chatty coworkers and noisy break rooms to excessive meetings and workplace gossip.  

Hybrid working offers everyone a chance to enjoy the best of both worlds. People can work from home when they need to be heads-down focused on solo projects and head into the office on days and tasks that require more face-to-face collaboration. Under this new structure that offers greater balance, moments in the office become more valuable, and time at home is more appreciated.  


2. Improved employee satisfaction  

Employee satisfaction heavily relies on autonomy and choice. The sense of being in control is highly valued and the flexibility to choose how, where, and when team members of all levels work will significantly enhance morale throughout the organization. Recognizing and respecting individual preferences and work styles fosters a positive and empowered workforce.   

And while happy people certainly contribute to an environment that is more enjoyable for existing employees, they also play a crucial role in attracting new talent. Our research found that hybrid workers were more likely to recommend their company as an ideal workplace than any other group.  

With the ever-present challenge of recruitment and retention in an increasingly competitive landscape, offering flexible work options can give you a leg up and ensure you have the best talent working for your company. It also creates an opportunity to hire from a wider pool of applicants, including high-value candidates that otherwise may have been limited by the constraints of a traditional workplace model.  


3. Increased productivity 

Happy employees are also productive employees. A hybrid model can empower people to work to their strengths and when they are at their best, allowing them to be more efficient and produce higher-quality work. 

Despite concerns expressed by some business leaders regarding employees becoming lazy and unproductive when working remotely, reality (and results) tells a different story. Our research reveals that 80% of managers trust their teams to accomplish work while operating remotely. These managers believe their employees and colleagues exhibit comparable productivity levels, whether working from home or in the office. Interestingly, in the hybrid era, the primary challenge has been ensuring that employees establish clear boundaries and disconnect at the end of the day to prevent burnout. While there may be certain drawbacks associated with the hybrid working model, decreased productivity is rarely one of them.  


4. Better mental health 

Large enterprises are increasingly recognizing the strategic value of employee well-being. Work can be a significant source of stress, and by offering flexible work options through a hybrid model, companies can foster a healthier and happier workforce.  

This shift empowers employees to design work patterns that align with their personal lives, reducing commuting time and expenses. This newfound flexibility allows them to prioritize family, friends, and personal pursuits, ultimately leading to improved mental health across the organization. 

A happier and healthier workforce translates directly to business benefits.  Reduced turnover, increased employee engagement, and ultimately, a more productive team all contribute to the bottom line. When employees feel supported and empowered to manage their work-life balance, they’re more likely to be motivated, satisfied, and produce exceptional work. 


5. Improved physical resilience  

Amidst the challenges posed by a global pandemic, the significance of public health and safety emerged as a focal point in discussions about workplace design and culture. The option to work remotely became crucial in endeavors to “flatten the curve,” but it also triggered a broader realization about disease prevention. By avoiding the office environment and often crowded public transportation, employees discovered a remarkable reduction in typical seasonal colds and cases of flu that were previously considered an inevitable part of life.  

In many workplaces, there has long been an expectation that if you’re well enough to be out of bed, you’re well enough to report to work in the office. When people feel pressured to come in before fully recovering, they then expose their colleagues to the same illness they just had. The result is a ripple effect that ultimately leaves the entire team short-staffed and over-extended while more and more people call out sick.   

Incorporating hybrid work into a company’s structure and culture instills a sense of ease among employees to utilize the work-from-home option when feeling unwell. They no longer find themselves as the sole participant dialing into virtual meetings, as the infrastructure already accommodates remote workers. By establishing flexible work as a sustainable choice, organizations can diminish the occurrence of sick days among their workforce, ultimately fostering a climate for exceptional productivity.  


Everybody wins 

The benefits of hybrid work extend beyond individual employees and significantly impact the entire company. As highlighted by these five examples, embracing flexible work yields substantial advantages on a company-wide level. There has never been a more opportune moment to embrace and implement flexible work arrangements, and we are here to assist you in finding the optimal solution for your business. Reach out to us to explore how we can facilitate the adoption of hybrid work, allowing you to swiftly experience its numerous benefits. 

Research report: Attitudes to Hybrid Working.

Attitudes to Hybrid Working Report

The impact of hybrid work on employees and employers.

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