The pandemic popularised alternative working models for businesses through necessity. Many of these changes proved very popular, with the increase in hybrid working models seemingly a welcomed transition. In fact, approximately 81% of people who worked from home during the pandemic want to continue doing so, at least for some of the work week. 
A Robert Half survey found that 51% of employees desire a hybrid work schedule, so it seems that hybrid working models are here to stay. 
What is a hybrid worker?
A hybrid worker is part of a team that works both in office spaces and from remote locations. Particularly, these individuals locate themselves based on necessity and an understanding of where they would be most productive. If you’re a hybrid worker, you likely spend much of your time working at remote locations. You travel to the office when asked to or when it is necessary.
If this is a new role for your staff, adapting whilst prioritising mental health and wellbeing can be a complex process for them. Many employees face unique challenges relating to incorporating both remote and office spaces flexibly into their work routines.
There are, however, numerous things your employees can do to tackle these challenges and find a hybrid working routine that works for them.
3 simple ways to ensure effective hybrid working
Since hybrid workers sometimes work in isolation, a few new challenges may arise with regards to communication, feeling present in the workplace, and feeling clearly directed. Luckily, our health and wellbeing specialists have some practical advice to offer. Here are some ways to address your workplace needs to ensure that your employees are as happy, productive and healthy as possible.
1. Hold meetings online and in-person
An unproductive conversation can be frustrating, and when tempers rise, anxiety is often close by. The platform or context for your work meetings can help you have more productive and engaging communication with your co-workers.
Suppose your office building has a communal working space, such as a café or a lounge area. In that case, it may have been the perfect place to brainstorm and promote your ideas. Feeling involved in your work and having evident influence over the projects you work on is essential. This kind of open communication is difficult to foster through online meetings alone.
Decide as a team what sort of conversations would be best to have in-person versus using online calls. Aligning your goals before each call can help keep you productive and driven.
Doing so will help you avoid the frustration of calls that don’t cover the topics you need them to and limit conflicting goals. Overall, your employees are less likely to experience frustration and undermine anyone’s plan for the workday, including your own.
2. Clarify roles and communicate clearly
As a hybrid worker, you may find it challenging to know what exactly is expected of you, since you cannot easily tell what your co-workers do.
New terms are being used all over the place post-lockdown, and often you can feel uncertain as to which of them applies to you, what group you are in, and what your group means. We understand it can be a little nerve-wracking to ask for your role to be redefined.
Imposter’s syndrome is believing you are in some way a fraud or underqualified for the job you earned.  This might make it difficult for your employees to draw attention to themselves, and they may feel that they have to maintain the illusion of their success by not asking for help.
However, everyone feels much better working with certainty. It would help if you encouraged your employees to ask for the times that they are expected to be in the office and for any clarification on tasks they need to complete.
3. Give your staff direction
Your employees might worry that their hard work goes unseen if they aren’t physically there to display it. They may feel denied the visibility they need to thrive and progress in their jobs.
Feeling like you’re unable to progress or have any agency in the workplace has been linked to poor mental health and general wellbeing.  So, encourage your staff to be open about their work progress and how much effort they’re putting in.
Your employees may also struggle to find the right time to be assertive about their needs as workers, particularly when facing the stigma that hybrid workers undertake less work than office workers. This can lead them to feel like they’ve lost control of a significant aspect of their lives and is especially difficult for individuals suffering from mental health problems.
Encourage your staff to provide input on the change they want or need to see from their workplace. The following technique for approaching these sorts of conversations is taken from the Wellness Recovery Action Plan. Feel free to communicate this to your employees:
Take a moment to ask yourself what you want to change, and how this will help your mental health or improve your wellbeing. Gather your thoughts and form a strategy, or perhaps a plan. If you have like-minded co-workers, then collect their support. From here, you can express yourself clearly, with calm assertiveness, whilst being present and firm. Then go over the changes to be made to ensure that everyone understands the steps to be taken. 
This technique will help your employees provide better input about their needs and reduce unwanted stress and anxiety.
Why this is important
Hybrid workers are vulnerable to feeling undermined as employees if their contributions feel indirect, or if they’re not there to see them taking effect.
Although their positions are more flexible, hybrid working introduces several new challenges. So, encourage your staff to take care of themselves and reflect on the contributions they make to your team. Their needs are essential to the long-term success of the business they work for.
- “Most Workers want to work from home after COVID-19”, YouGov, https://yougov.co.uk/topics/economy/articles-reports/2020/09/22/most-workers-want-work-home-after-covid-19.
- “7 Stats That Show Hybrid is the Future of Work”, Flexjobs, www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/7-stats-show-hybrid-future-of-work/.
- “What is Imposter Syndrome?”, VeryWell Mind, www.verywellmind.com/imposter-syndrome-and-social-anxiety-disorder-4156469.
- “Dead-end jobs are bad for your health”, Newsroom, www.newsletter.co.uk/business/dead-end-jobs-are-bad-your-health-769004.
- “How to Self-Advocate”, Wellness Recovery Action Plan, www.wellnessrecoveryactionplan.com/how-to-self-advocate/.