The coronavirus pandemic bore witness to employers around the globe turning to remote working for the first time, implementing new systems and processes capable of managing a team from afar.
And, for many businesses, this transition has worked out a lot more smoothly than anticipated, not only resulting in an increase in employee productivity but also a significant reduction in overhead costs throughout the pandemic.
However, now that the periods of lockdown appear to be becoming a thing of the past, a number of employers are currently at a crossroads over whether to implement a remote working practice full time, part-time or return to the way it was before. This, in turn, has led to the introduction of a concept known as hybrid working – a form of flexible working in which each employee splits their time between working remotely and in the workplace.
But, while hybrid working offers a number of excellent benefits, the system isn’t perfect. After all, how can employers expect to safeguard the mental health of their employees while they’re spending time away from the office?
Well, in this article, we are going to investigate exactly that.
Join us as we look to answer this question and more, running through some of the key ways employers can keep the mental health of hybrid workers at the top of their agenda throughout the post-pandemic transition.
Create a comforting environment
The coronavirus pandemic will have affected everyone’s mental health in a different way.
For some, the various periods of lockdown may have caused huge rifts in their relationships, leading to a wide range of legal and relationship issues. While, for others, the uncertain months of not being able to work may have now led to certain financial difficulties.
As such, it’s important to consider each employee on an individual basis. There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to safeguarding mental health, unfortunately, so it is the duty of the employer to ensure each member of staff has a safe space to come to them with any issues they’re currently facing.
Without these systems in place, there won’t just be the actual onset of mental health conditions to worry about – statistics from the World Health Organization show that failing to address mental health in the workplace will not only limit employee performance but can also increase rates of illness, absenteeism, accidents and staff turnover.
Utilise face-to-face contact
The return of face-to-face contact in the workplace is incredibly valuable and represents a powerful tool to utilise when hybrid working.
While video conferencing tools like Zoom and Google Hangouts have proved incredibly useful since the start of the pandemic, nothing can replace the intimacy and personal engagement of a one-to-one conversation.
So, with this in mind, by letting employees know that your door is always open for them, this should give them the freedom to talk freely, helping normalise the conversation around mental health and allow those who need help the most to access it sooner.
Encourage exercise and mindfulness
One of the easiest ways to prevent hybrid workers from developing mental health conditions comes by simply encouraging them to exercise on a more regular basis.
Whether it be a brisk ten-minute walk on their lunch break, a cycle-to-work scheme or an after-work football session, providing employees with the freedom to exercise could significantly impact their mental alertness, energy and mood – all of which are key to ensuring a happy, healthy workforce over the long run.
Similarly, mindfulness techniques like meditation have also proved highly valuable in recent times, offering a wide variety of benefits – from reduced stress levels to improved emotional wellbeing to a better quality of sleep.
What’s more, certain apps and courses are even now backed by both scientific research and the NHS.
The Be Mindful mindfulness-based cognitive therapy course, for example, found that, of those who completed the course, 63% had a reduction in feelings of depression, 40% had a reduction in feelings of stress and 58% had a reduction in feelings of anxiety.
Therefore, by encouraging the use of exercise and mindfulness both in and out of the workplace, there could be a big difference in how well employees are shown to perform.
Maintaining the mental health of workers is imperative at the best of times. But, in light of the recent coronavirus pandemic, it is perhaps more important now than ever before.
Not all employees are the same, after all. While some may love the idea of being in the office again, others may have other important things going on in their life which they will now need to fit their work around.
Fundamentally, it all comes down to balance. If an employee feels like they have a safe space at work to discuss any issues they are currently having, for example, this will not only encourage them to feel a lot more mentally reassured as a result, but it will also help motivate them to work both harder and smarter.