Our Head of Community, Anniki Sommerville, recently spoke at the Women of Silicon Roundabout Conference on the topic of hybrid working and building a working environment more conducive to employee mental health.
Much of the focus on hybrid working has been on the positives and it’s clear that the flexibility that it offers is immensely beneficial for all employees. However, there are still challenges that remain and have yet to be addressed.
Working from home in particular can result in work/life blur and many employees don’t have the ideal set up to work from home. Working from bedrooms or in make-shift offices isn’t so uncommon and doesn’t help with setting clear boundaries between home and work. Extended periods of remote work can also feel quite isolating and for parents in particular often translates into fewer breaks as time that should be spent resting is instead filled up with domestic admin.
Up till this point, there has been an over-reliance on impersonal technology to help manage workloads with few processes focused on making sure team leaders have a clear idea of how their people are doing (or rather feeling).
As team leaders, we need to think about the relationships being fostered between teams and ensure that we’re doing as much as we can to encourage collaboration and interaction. Office environments coming out of the pandemic require more—if people are coming into the office and doing exactly the same tasks they could have done working from home dissatisfaction will grow. Greater emphasis must be placed on ensuring there are added benefits of coming into the office.
Here’s some tips on how to support employee mental health and satisfaction with hybrid working:
Initiate regular check ins and teambuilding exercises
Avoid the temptation to schedule team catch ups and one-to-ones virtually as it’s harder to get a real insight into how your staff are feeling. and For staff who are still working remotely full time, added effort must be made to ensure you are connecting more rather than less and that remote workers aren’t left out of socialising with in-office team members. For instance, parents who have found remote working to be a lifesaver might benefit from having childcare support so that they can come in on days where teambuilding events are scheduled.
Prioritise mental health
We all struggle with mental health from time to time, and it’s important that team leaders understand how working environments can affect mental health conditions like anxiety. There are many management practices that can help to ensure a positive wellbeing across teams, such as setting clear deliverables and expectations, encouraging regular breaks, and providing access to wellbeing tools. Remember also that employees often look to management to see whether certain behaviours are desirable or not so if you’re stressed and anxious then it definitely sets a bad example and can affect how others feel! That’s why it’s so important we as leaders role model the behaviours we want to encourage across our workforce.
Celebrate team wins
As leaders it can be so easy to get caught up in the weeds, and fall into patterns of micromanagement. We must be clear in what our bigger picture objectives are (or everyone feels like a task-monkey) and deliberately celebrate achievements as a team. The goal for everyone should be to work smart, not hard and be supportive of one another’s success. When someone delivers a great piece of work, this should be celebrated and shared among the team. This recognition is especially important for remote workers who are more at risk of being overlooked and experiencing demotivation and burnout (despite their tendency to work longer hours).
Stay flexible on hybrid working choices
If there’s one thing the pandemic has proven it’s that traditional working hours and office work settings are not ideal for everyone, and more importantly that isn’t a bad thing for businesses. Whether it’s remote work or hybrid working, people are less willing to make compromises to their family or personal life commitments – and it’s pretty obvious they shouldn’t have to in order to get the job done.
The new world of hybrid working presents an exciting opportunity for businesses, but as leaders we must be intentional and ever aware of the potential pitfalls that organisations can face. For more tips on how to make hybrid working more inclusive and sustainable visit our HR Hub here.