With each progression of the pandemic – even the positive steps forward – businesses have been forced to regroup, rethink and redefine their core strategies. In the past year, most employers have pivoted from traditional office-based set ups to remote working, furlough arrangements and blended teams.
However, when the dust settles after the final round of government reviews, it looks like the hybrid model will be here to stay. Many organisations have shared plans to permanently allow staff to divide their time between home and office.
So will the switch deliver the best of both worlds for employees? The 2021 ‘Work Smarter to Live Better’ report from Microsoft Surface and the CIPD shows that, while most colleagues say they’re happier and healthier working from home, they also feel obliged to put in longer hours, take fewer breaks and be on call around the clock.
Staff also revealed they wanted their workplaces to show a stronger commitment to their wellbeing. In fact, only 29% of respondents’ employers had offered any additional resources to boost physical or mental health during the pandemic. So while breaking from 9-5 tradition fuelled a better work/life balance, it also brought its own brand of stress and separation.
This, in short, is the challenge of modern management. How do firms provide the freedom and fluidity of hybrid working while helping employees feel positive, productive and part of the team? The key is to stay connected with accessible team building and wellbeing support that works for everyone, wherever they happen to be working.
First, find out what matters to your team
When it comes to wellbeing, workers’ requirements change over time. So what mattered during last year’s lockdown may not address the new strains of straddling office and home working. An optional, anonymous survey can reset your priorities and highlight what your people value on a personal, team and cultural level. To manage expectations, consider what’s possible within your budget and shape your survey content to suit. Your questions might include:
- Which areas of wellbeing are most important to you?
- How could we help you improve your physical and mental wellbeing?
- What has been your toughest challenge during the past 12 months?
- What kind of team building activities (virtual and face-to-face) would help you feel closer to your colleagues?
- How could we make hybrid working easier for you?
- What would you add to our current list of wellbeing benefits?
- Do you feel comfortable talking about them at work?
Once the survey’s complete, use your team’s fresh feedback and ideas to reboot existing benefits or build your offering from the ground up.
Give your people the tools to thrive
The right tools and training can help your hybrid team feel and perform their best. To provide meaningful support, for example, your managers need the skills to spot the signs of poor mental health in both remote and onsite workers. Educating team leaders to recognise red flags – from fatigue and anxiety to increased alcohol consumption or poor attendance – empowers them to take positive steps across a range of work situations.
Make it clear that they have permission
Similarly, employees often need a prompt (permission, even) to pursue happiness, especially when they’re on the clock. Make it clear that lunchtime walks, healthy eating and daily doses of downtime are a key part of your hybrid working culture – and encourage managers to close their laptops and lead by example. Want to go one better? Get the whole team involved with break-time meditation activities, book clubs or shared experiences that inject a friendly competition into the daily routine.
Weave wellbeing into every workday
Supporting your staff doesn’t automatically mean a deep-pocket wellbeing programme. What means the most is presence, awareness and consistency. Even colleagues who’ve actively chosen to work from home can experience feelings of isolation, so take every opportunity to reach out to your reports.
This could include scheduled catch ups (both onsite and online) and casual ‘check-ins’ to keep workers feeling in the loop and listened to. Review your employees’ collective schedules for opportunities to connect remote and office-based colleagues, forming mini-teams that break the barriers of hybrid working. Establishing a regular rhythm of individual and all-colleague meet ups – that power conversation and collaboration – can also nurture that vital family feeling.
Make fun a long-term focus
Working from home might cut the stress of the commute – but it also cuts the sense of community that keeps your team’s heart beating. In fact, the Microsoft Surface and CIPD research revealed that socialising with teammates is what 65% of remote workers miss most.
While we all love having a laugh with colleagues, it’s tricky to conjure up camaraderie across different schedules and workspaces. Fun, focused team activities – such as a shared health and wellbeing challenge – keep the spark alive over a longer period, and drive engagement and positive lifestyle changes in the process.
Kaido Challenges keep your hybrid teams happy, motivated and connected with 40 days of activities that improve nutrition, sleep and physical and mental health. They work perfectly for onsite and home-based workers and can be set up in minutes via a simple smartphone app. You also get detailed data and reports to track buy-in, results and ROI.