The past year has brought a fundamental change to the way we think about business and working environments, shifting expectations of what's possible for employees and businesses of all sizes across the country.
As 76% of businesses expect hybrid work to become more common amongst their workforce, leaders and managers need to consider how they adjust their health and wellbeing strategies.
Expectations of employees have shifted from one year ago, meaning that leaders must readjust to change and tailor to each of their employees' needs. For some, the experience of remote working was great, lockdown allowed many to become more productive, saving them time from the lack of commute and reducing workplace distractions. However, some employees found remote to be isolating and restricted their ability to establish healthy connections with their co-workers.
It was recently reported that 91% of office workers have shown a preference to working from home at least part of the time, highlighting the monumental shift in how employees now perceive their working week. It is important that businesses consider how introducing hybrid working can be not only advantageous for their business, but also a good opportunity to support employee wellbeing and accommodate for each employee. When thinking about the transition, it is important that leaders focus on creating a policy that focuses on balancing the needs of the business and employee preference for flexibility. Doing so will help companies develop a healthy work culture that allows employees to have a more balance work and home life, while achieving success.
Equipping your leadership team with the tools and resources to help identify signs of poor health or wellbeing regardless of location is the starting point to ensuring you develop a strong work culture. A good way to promote this is by enrolling your leadership and employees on "Mental Health First Aiders" programmes, meaning that the business has designated staff that can help promote a healthy environment and look for any signs that an employee may be struggling.
Focusing on having the right technology in place is fundamental to the success of hybrid working. Using remote collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype for Business allows employees to have a point of contact and a platform to speak with their team throughout their work week. Digital tools will enable meetings and organisation communication to remain inclusive, promoting a team environment despite the lack of physical interaction. Having the technology available to jump on a call or message colleagues fosters a sense of connection while working in different places, preventing some members from feeling isolated.
Like anything new, there will certainly be a lot of trial and error for every business as hybrid working becomes the new normal of our work weeks. It is important that leaders ensure the change in working model is sustainable for all parties and every avenue is acknowledged and created to make the hybrid working model inclusive for all involved.