What can your business do to reduce the stress of hybrid working?

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Employees are working harder whilst working from home! I’ve talked to senior leaders in the financial services and legal industry where they have shared their experiences. Which is that top performers are – contrary to popular belief – working harder adding in longer not fewer hours. And as most organisations will continue with some form of hybrid working the question is how can your business reduce the stress impact of this new way of working? This article and the accompanying video will outline how your business can reduce the stress associated with ‘distance’ working, combatting loneliness and driving creativity in a hybrid, remote working situation so that your teams remain connected and visionary.

What is hybrid working?

A hybrid virtual working model is here to stay. Simply put a hybrid working model combines both remote works with time in the office. This new way of working will be the norm as HR and senior leaders navigate the combination of time working from home and time in a centralised office. The issue is how can teams stay cohesive and productive whilst working apart?

According to the latest McKinsey survey, the post-pandemic workplace will be based on the hybrid remote working for the highly skilled, well paid key workers. These well paid, key performers are looking for both flexibility in their working hours, location and a sense of empowerment and self-autonomy.

What are the advantages of hybrid working post Covid?

The pandemic has rushed through this and the are some great cost-reducing advantages of this new way of working.

For example some notable advantages for businesses and individuals are:

For the business:

  • Reduced cost on office space,
  • More productive and longer working hours
  • Office environment becomes more a more collaborative, learnign and social space – more enjoyable than before
  • Focus is on collaboration and community building
  • Less formal environment mean

For the employee:

  • Employees are enjoying less commuting.
  • Employees feeling more freedom about when they can work and where they can work from
  • Fit work around their schedules
  • Better use of their time
  • Fully focus on tasks without noise from traditional office
  • Choose productive times of their day to be creative

What is missing from post Covid hybrid remote working?

  • The biggest disconnect from hybrid working is the in-person approach often referred to as “management by walking around”
  • The informal ‘fun’ interactions, which occur daily and naturally among teams isn’t easily accessible in the virtual environment.
  • In addition working from home can feel isolating for the employee. A gregarious team member looking to bounce ideas of others will not be able to freely talk through any work issues – and left feeling a sense of disempowerment.
  • Working from home can be more distracting for those with busy families, noisy neighbours or a small and uncomfortable workable space.

Businesses and leaders looking for new approaches to create positive working teams both remotely and on-site are considering creative solutions.

What is the effect of hybrid working on mental health

Whilst productivity may have gone up, many employees report feeling anxious and burned out. it is therefore essential to raise awareness and then addressing the sources of employee anxiety. Since stress and anxiety at work will have a number of impacts on the team: For example

  • Employee reduce job satisfaction,
  • Negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues,
  • Decrease work performance.

A recent study from World Economic Forum found that:

  • 78% have experienced some negative impact of the current way of working on their productivity,
  • 22% expecting a strong negative impact
  • Whilst a small percentage (15%) believing that it will have no impact or a positive impact on their productivity.

There are real consequences in the short term to this change of working culture.

The real consequence of hybrid working on mental health?

Stress in the workplace doesn’t simply affect the individual it has a ripple effect that will affects the entire organisation. In the previous survey quoted above, 56% reported that anxiety affects their job performance, and half report a negative impact on relationships with coworkers and peers. 

The real consequences of stress can affect all aspects of your business including:

1. Missed deadlines

Stress and high anxiety in. the workplace decreases work performance and in particular missing deadlines.

2. Increased stress around uncertainty in the workplace

lack of clear guidelines around the new working model together with the increasing issues of the global economy, means that the loss of productivity because of poor mental health—including anxiety – is increasing.

3. Gender disparity with a hybrid model

Women who have reportedly been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 crisis will continue to feel the brunt of hybrid working.

4. Burning out. 

The lack of clear communication about the future of post-pandemic work also contributes to employee burnout. Nearly half of employees surveyed say they’re feeling some symptoms of being burned out at work. That may be an underestimate since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests, and the most burned-out individuals may have already left the workforce

5. Interpersonal relationships

The biggest reason cited for leaving a job is the line manager. Difficult relationships, tension and hard to have conversations make the working environment less productive as well as less desirable.

It is well documented that the main driver for enhanced work performance is interpersonal relationships. Creating a better team environment is part of resilience training referred to as ‘team resilience’

A bond that glues teams together means that stuff gets done! Streamlined processing because team members are motivated, engaged and trust their fellow team members.

6. Employee attrition

On average it costs an organisation £30,000 to replace, retrain a new member of staff.

More importantly, those team members who are stressed are more likely to suffer from job dissatisfaction and unfilled and therefore leave their jobs and seek employment elsewhere

This has a two-fold effect on your business – loss of a key employee and the second implication is the word of mouth effect that disillusioned employee has on sites like glassdoor posted employee reviews.

What can your business do to reduce stress of hybrid working?

1. Agenda free time

One approach is to leave a part of the meeting agenda-free, as a time for employees to discuss any topic. 

2. Allow Employees to feel heard

employees feel they’ve yet to hear enough about their employers’ plans for post-COVID-19 working arrangements. Organizations may have announced a general intent to embrace hybrid virtual work going forward, but too few of them, employees say, have shared detailed guidelines, policies, expectations, and approaches. And the lack of remote-relevant specifics is leaving employees anxious.

3. Open Communication

Even high-level communication about post-COVID-19 working arrangements boosts employee well-being and productivity. But organizations that convey more detailed, remote-relevant policies and approaches see greater increases.

4. Feel included

Employees who feel included in more detailed communication are nearly five times more likely to report increased productivity. Because communicating about the future can drive performance outcomes today, leaders should consider increasing the frequency of their employee updates—both to share what’s already decided and to communicate what is still uncertain.

Team-building when there’s distance 

In a hybrid workplace, it can be difficult to form or maintain relationships with colleagues. If you’re not sharing the same physical space, you can’t just stroll over to their desk for a casual chat or show them a funny YouTube video of a dog near the photocopier. 

This gap in the employee experience becomes even more pronounced when some employees continue to work in the office, creating perceived in-groups that can leave remote workers feeling left out, less favoured and lonely. Adapting the company’s team-building activities will ensure that they’re inclusive for all employees, and by organising regular social events that are accessible to everyone regardless of geography.

One of the best solutions is a group coaching practice, that I have used with many companies and the feedback is that regardless of the training – the ability to talk through aspects of work in a co-created safe space is extremely comforting and rewarding.

Group Coaching is a creative way to reduce disconnect brought about by virtual hybrid working.

What does a resilient group coaching practice look like?

  • Group Coaching is based on a small group format (the ideal size is: 6-8 participants). And includes emotional wellbeing education and the opportunity to develop skills by using expert coaching combined with peer support.
  • The skilled and experienced coach moderates and guides the group using techniques like deep listening, thoughtful reflections, and evocative questions.
  • The group is a safe, nonjudgmental space that allows for creative exploration to support managers so that they can determine and focus on their own goals and action plans and solutions to work-based problems.
  • The group creates powerful motivation for its members where the teams initiate and stick to their personalised action plans which creates the changes required for a coaching culture within the business.

Next steps?

Lee Jennings Pension Planning at Openworks

“Adele’s coaching session was very valuable and well-timed during COVID lockdown, working from home.”

Lee Jennings Pension Planning at Openworks

If your organisation is looking to incorporate a coaching programme or would like to investigate the opportunities that coaching can offer  please email me to discuss your organisational requirements or book an appointment straight in my diary

To move your resilience training forward, the next step is to book a call with me, Adele Stickland and together we can discover what stage your organisation is currently at, and how you can best implement the most proactive strategy that will serve your employees

#corporatewellbeing #resilientleadership #resiliencecoach

Book a 15min call to find out what will work for your business Book a call, Adele Stickland
Chris Noble Director of Saunderson House

“Adele recently did some training on mental resilience for Saunderson House and it was slick and inciteful, whilst also being extremely helpful. I was particularly impressed that she took the time to follow up immediately on some feedback that I had given with an invite to a personal discussion, which was also very useful. Not only does Adele clearly ‘know her stuff’ but she also cares and is very authentic. I would be very happy to recommend her services”

Rakhesh Rao
Senior Infrastructure Analyst

“Adele, came in for an online coaching session at work. Little did I realise how the resilience training would come into its own over the following week or so. The training and how to manage situations has really helped me the last few weeks. I would recommend you go in with an open mind and see how the training can really benefit you”

Adele Stickland

Adele Stickland

With over 20 years of experience in the wellbeing industry, Adele has a unique insight into stress awareness and resilience within organisations. With a powerful combination of personal experience and industry background Adele is ideally placed to understand the needs of organisations looking to improve corporate Resilience Programmes and specifically tailor them to their requirements. As a former leader in the marketing world, Adele was employed in a variety of corporate roles spanning advertising, retail, and marketing together with over 20 years of running her own wellness business. After becoming a victim of ambition-burnout herself, through personal development, training and learning. Adele recognises that resilience is a skill that can be learned and developed using a crafted framework bespoke to each organisation.

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