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Hybrid working: Wellbeing in the new working world

The Ancient Greeks believed that people flourished in groups and communities, and that mind, body and spirit were connected. The Romans believed wellbeing could be achieved by diet, bathing, exercise, and relaxation. In fact, as far back as the Bronze Age, wellbeing has been recognised as a key element in life for people to blossom. To be well. To be healthy. To be happy. To live the good life.

Fast forward to today, and this ethos remains. Positive wellbeing is so vital for happy living. According to the latest ONS Opinions & Lifestyle Survey, 78% of those polled in February 2022, who work from home in some capacity, said that being able to do so gave them a better work life balance, with almost half reporting improved wellbeing. The most common benefit cited of working from home was improved work-life balance and the most common reason given for using or planning to use home working as part of a permanent business model was to improve staff wellbeing.

Promoting positive wellbeing should be at the core of what we do and how we work, regardless of industry or occupation. And whilst the reasons for companies adopting hybrid working will vary, and there will undoubtedly be many who arrived at this station because of the Covid pandemic, the data is showing us that wellbeing is a big part of it.

At Team Today we know how important good wellbeing is. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, your staff are your greatest asset.

And while hybrid working does seem to go hand-in-hand with improving wellbeing, it’s not without its challenges. We thought we’d take you through some of these, and some ways you can counter them.

Is anybody there?

First up, isolation and its buddy, loneliness. One of the biggest wellbeing risks when you’re working from home. Never underestimate the importance of human contact. We need each other and we need to communicate. So, it’s vital to keep communication between office and home open. Whatever channels you use, make sure everybody knows about them and uses them. Use your communication tools; perhaps you have a company intranet – this is a great way to include everybody and make them feel part of the company whether they’re at home or in the office. Use your social activity; perhaps you have team development days or staff social events sometimes – another great way to keep everybody included.

Loneliness can have an enormous effect of people’s mental health and self-esteem so it’s important to keep talking and keep connecting.

Too much tech?

Coming in at number two is Tech Fatigue. Nobody likes all-day Zoom meetings, sitting in hybrid outfits of suit jackets over jogging bottoms. And it isn’t good for our health either, to be constantly staring at screens. Our eyes, our necks, our posture, our focus. They can all suffer.

To combat Tech Fatigue, try to mix up your day between online and offline work tasks. Remember those moments in the office when the power goes off, everybody panics that they’re offline but then you find there is actually a surprising amount you can do without being on the internet? Channel those moments.

Try to have regular time away from your screen. Rest your eyes, rest your ears if you’re an earphone wearer. And move around. Walk around the house, take a walk outside at lunchtime. If you can and the weather is kind, work outside. Keep it mixed up and fresh.

Granted, it won’t always be possible if you’ve got a day of online meetings lined up that you can’t change. But do it on the days you can. And on the days you can’t, take advantage of the brief moments that you’re on a comfort break to get some rest time in.

Where’s the off switch?

Balance is important. Balance between our work lives and our home lives. Whilst many in the ONS survey reported having a better work life balance with hybrid working, there is always the risk when we blend the two that we come perilously close to blurring the lines between the two worlds so that there is no down time and no off switch. It’s all too easy to carry on working whilst you’re cooking tea, or to get the laptop back out when you’re watching TV, or to check your emails when you should be chilling out in the evening. The wonderful ease at which our working lives can enter our homes can become a hindrance if you have no balance.

You can find your balance by creating a structure and routine for your working day. Set up your hours as you would if you were in the office. Take your breaks. Have a proper lunch away from your desk. And when it’s time to stop working for the day, switch off. No dawdling. Make sure your colleagues know, agree your finish time with your manager if you need to, but switch off.

And don’t look at those emails until morning.

Whose responsibility is it anyway?

We talk a lot about our responsibility for our own wellbeing, but when we’re in a working environment, the responsibility for wellbeing becomes a collective one. There’s your responsibility for yourself, sure, but there’s also responsibility from your managers for your wellbeing and the rest of your team, and within that your team have a responsibility to each other. We can all play a part.

As managers, you can help by ensuring you check in with staff, keep comms open, and try to head off the isolation risk at the pass. And you can lead by example, looking after your own wellbeing, your own mental and physical health, and showing your team you’re doing so. You can also invest in resources and training for your staff, e.g., Mental Health First Aid or Mental Health Training. And you can ensure that your staff have access to the same health and wellbeing tools whether they are working on or off site.

As colleagues, you can check in with each other. If you’re getting the feeling that something isn’t right with one of your team, ask them. Just that simple question, Are you ok?, can make all the difference. Make sure you know all about the health and wellbeing tools offered by your company and how to access them wherever you are. And that includes any tools used for managing your hybrid working life, such as Team Today.

Use your tools

People are like sponges; we can absorb all sorts of learning and resources and there is an abundance of wonderful information and advice about wellbeing from charities and health care organisations. In the first instance, make sure you know what support and information your workplace offers, keep it somewhere safe for when you need it. And look at other advice too, such as the 5 Ways to Wellbeing, which says that we need to connect, be active, take notice, learn, and give. The charity Mind has many useful resources on its website, as does the NHS.

Let’s get physical

The Ancient Greeks weren’t wrong when they said our minds and bodies are connected. Our mental and physical health are as important as each other when it comes to nurturing positive wellbeing. It’s about exercise, it’s about keeping healthy with your diet, it’s about going to the GP if you’re not well. It’s about remembering the connection between them.

Pause for thought

And there are some very simple things you can do to help promote good wellbeing for you. Take time to talk, reflect, pause, and just slow down. The world moves so fast, and it’s no exception in the working world. Sometimes we need to just pause.

So, let’s look after our wellbeing, let’s take responsibility together. Let’s have a hybrid wellbeing approach to our hybrid working lives.

Madeleine Thompson

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