As a result of the current pandemic, many people are settling into a new normal of remote work from home. However, as businesses begin to reopen, some may find themselves in a hybrid working environment. This is where a person might switch between working from home and at the office. This new way of working poses a range of new and unique challenges.
One such challenge is resilience. Mental health has been a prominent topic of debate throughout the pandemic with one study, from the UKHLS, finding that average mental distress rose 8.1% in the UK as of April 2020. Some workers may perhaps feel lonely from a lack of social interaction as they work from home. Others might feel scared to go to their office because of fears of becoming sick from Covid. In terms of mental health, this is an important time for employers to consider their employees’ concerns and fears individually, to comfort, raise resilience and inspire.
Communication For hybrid and Remote Work
Whether you’re in the office, at home or both, it is extremely valuable to encourage communication between company members and this does not mean that all communication needs to be serious, boring or even necessarily productive. True, as a business owner, you may not want to encourage a culture of chitter chatter and slacking in your workers but in these depressing and desperate times, a little heart goes a long way.
For example, the humorous chat and gossip that some might be used to from an office environment can help bring cheer to an otherwise boring day and can help workers come together as more of a family than mere associates. Furthermore, as many adopt a hybrid working schedule, people working from home may have a real emotional benefit from something as simple as an occasional group call, solely for informal non work related chatter. Asides from boosting morale, this may have some positive effects on productivity too as it has been found that happy workers are 13% more productive than when they aren’t. (study)
In addition, a handy byproduct of encouraging these kinds of conversations between workers, is that as employees chat with each other more in person, it can help them to organise themselves and keep each other updated quicker as workers would be spending more time face to face (even if only virtually).
Empathy and Adaptability
It requires a great level of trust, when employing people to work remotely. Some business owners may be concerned about the productivity of their employees when no one is around to watch them. However, the fact is that as much as 20% of people would like to work full time from home post Covid and around another 40% for part time according to a study earlier this year. Furthermore, to satisfy both the worries of an employer and the desires of the employees may require some compromises.
To resolve this, employers with remote and hybrid workers, should consider the individual needs their workers and how they are choosing to work. For example, Do they have all the tools necessary at home to complete work to a high standard? If not, are there any resources that could be provided? In addition, if an employee is hesitant to come to work in person, yet required to do so, what safety measures might be worth discussing with staff in order to calm their fears? Group calls, as mentioned above can be a really good opportunity to allow workers to voice their concerns and feel as though they are cared for.
As we all together brace ourselves through these difficult and often stressful times, it is important for both employees and employers alike to be flexible, adapting to each other’s individual needs. To quote British novelist, Mohsin Hamid, “Empathy is about finding echoes of another person inside yourself”.
For employees doing majoritively remote work, they may not receive the same level of input regarding their work that they do from an office. This may be just fine for some, if you have happened to have spent your whole working morning watching TV. However, for those who take pride in their work, you might feel under-appreciated when no one is around to comment on and appreciate your good work. This is where positivity is really important. As an employer of remote and hybrid workers, it is important to ensure that positive feedback is delivered irrespective of where the worker is based. This can be achieved in many ways that are way more exciting than a generic email, too. A small gift every once in a while, can really help an employee feel valued. Gifts don’t need to be particularly expensive either, a small box of chocolates or a thank you card is unlikely to break anyone’s bank. It’s not the money it’s the thought that counts.
In addition to positive feedback, employers might want to consider how critical analysis of an employer’s work should be discussed with them. For example, a hybrid worker who has been receiving criticism working at home all week might feel intimidated when expected to return to the office, which could ultimately lead to arguments and an unhealthy working environment. In situations such as this, you might want to consider how positive and negative feedback is balanced. A 4:1 ratio, roughly speaking, can help as having some positive feedback can help lessen the blow of any negative feedback that must be given.
To find out more how we can help you implement a hybrid working model, please contact us.