Mind your hybrid workers

Unmind’s Kate Daley on how to care for your hybrid workers’ wellbeing

Mind your hybrid workers

For some, working from home is liberation from commuting and having to dash out at lunch to walk the dog. For others its lonely, isolating, or plain stressful if their home environment isnt conducive to focusing on the job. Others who thrive on routine might even find the choice of coming into the office or not creates anxiety and stress.

So how do you ensure your hybrid working model takes care of employeesdifferent mental and emotional needs?

Well, actually, if youre already asking yourself that question, its a great start, says clinical psychologist Kate Daley, psychology lead at workplace mental health platform Unmind. Just recognising its not one-size-fits-all is a positive first step to developing effective policies.”

Also… just ask people! You want it to be fair and equitable so ask what people want and listen to their concerns to accommodate their needs as much as you can”.

Homing in on the issues

Hybrid working presents significant potential challenges to some, including:

Isolation: this can impact the individual but also team cohesion. If some people are in the office and others arent, it can lead to an us and them' culture, leaving people feeling more disconnected.”

Inequitable working conditions: If your home internet is terrible or you dont have an office or spare room to work in, working from home isnt going to be a sustainable option.”

Work-life balance: When home is your office, its also easy to blur the lines between work and leisure/family time which means people find it hard to switch off and burnout becomes likely.

Structure/Routine: The idea of a few days here, a few days there is great for flexibility, but it can be challenging to maintain a regular routine and may create uncertainty.

Given these areas of potential stress, how can you know if your remote/hybrid workers are being honest about how theyre feeling?

You could start with an anonymous temperature check; send out a questionnaire that asks how everyone is feeling. Because its anonymous, people can be honest and you’ll get a sense of how your organisation as a whole is doing.”

When talking to individuals, remember that some people might not want to share how they are feeling and actually, unless its impacting their work, thats okay,” says Daley. Dont force people to talk if they dont want to, instead create a culture where they feel safe to talk if they want to and empower people to seek help if they need it”

Its about promoting a culture of openness and transparency. Have lots of positive communication so youre making mental health something to embrace, challenging the stigma.”

A helpful tactic is having mental health champions - go-to individuals, with training in the subject, who know how to listen and signpost.

But actually, education is key for all employees to really shift the mental health literacy of an organisation”. Also have content that doesnt just focus on depression and anxiety, but also prevention to help people flourish - essentially something for everybody.”

The Unmind platform offers Mental Health Foundation training, with six series taking an in-depth look at key topics: introduction to mental health, common problems, complex problems (eg bipolar disorder, eating disorders), supporting others, mental health at work, talking about suicide.

The feedback weve got from the series is wonderful; people feel empowered to have those supportive conversations where its appropriate and to signpost people to help rather than feeling like they have to solve the problem themselves.”

Measuring and tracking wellbeing, using something like the Index at Unmind can prompt employees to assess how theyre really feeling and can direct them to resources that will help.

Then there are in the momenttools like mindfulness, breathing, relaxation to take the edge off anxiety, and sleep tales if you are battling insomnia.

Unmind has a lovely feature called Praise, where you digitally send praise to a colleague. Its such a nice way to connect with people, and let them know they are appreciated,” says Daley.

Of course mental health issues have been making headlines for years. But since COVID has impacted everyone, more people are talking about them.

Which is great, but it needs to lead to action,” says Daley. Whether thats helping people access therapy, education around mental health strategies, or apps like Unmind.”

Especially in this newly shaped world of hybrid working, taking mental health seriously is vital for the health of your company too.

A large proportion of people are reassessing their life - quitting their jobs and taking up a new career, and they will look towards organisations that look after their staff and put wellbeing front and centre,” says Daley.

Download Unminds handbook, The Hybrid Model of Working: What is it and why it matters to your employees’ mental health, to learn more visit unmind.com

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