The Ultimate Guide to Creating ‘Mentally Healthy’ Hybrid Workplaces

The Hubble Team
The Hubble Team|

53% of employees prioritise their wellbeing over work more than they did before 2020. 

Let’s just digest that for a second. 

Despite everything that went on—all the change, all the adapting and all the nail-biting uncertainty—something positive happened. In what many are calling “The Great Reshuffle”, we’re now putting our lives before our work.

It’s no secret that flexibility plays a humongous part in this. In fact, nearly 40% of people employed at flexible workplaces claim it has significantly improved their mental health, and we’re still in the early days of it.

So, how do we use hybrid workplace strategies to improve the mental health of even more people? Are there any pitfalls? How do I put things in place to create a working environment that genuinely makes a difference to the wellbeing of my team? 

We’ve written this guide to answer all of your questions. 

What are 3 benefits of hybrid working on mental health?

Hybrid working can reduce stress

43% say that Hybrid Working reduces stress and improves their mental health, and there can be a number of reasons for this, but we have a theory. Hybrid Working can reduce stress because everyday work-related stresses no longer happen every day. Each day is different! 

You don’t get stressed by the daily commute anymore because you have the option of working from home. But, you also don’t get the stress of working from home every day because you have the option to work in a company HQ or an on-demand coworking space. This variety can make all the difference. 

Hybrid work allows better work/life balance

Once upon a time, you had to choose between having breakfast with your kids or going to work. Between travelling the world or having a career. Between having a lunch break or going to your 80’s-inspired aerobics class. But not with Hybrid Working. 

Flexibility gives people the chance to live more fulfilling lives, which can ultimately make them happier. 

Hybrid working boosts productivity

80% of employees say they are just as or more productive since going remote or hybrid. That’s great! But what does this have to do with mental wellbeing?

Let’s say you have a productive day at work. You smash through your to-do list. You’re not feeling anxious about unfinished tasks. You’re not working overtime to get things done. You feel confident in your work. You’re more satisfied with your job. The list goes on.

What are 3 potential pitfalls of hybrid working on mental health?

Hybrid working can run the risk of lonelier teams

55% of hybrid employees feel lonelier at work than they did when they were working in the office full-time. And 43% of leaders cite relationship-building as the greatest challenge of Hybrid Working

And they’re right, it is a challenge. Previously, people would naturally build relationships in the office, but now teams are dispersed across different places. Thankfully, with some work, it’s a challenge that can be overcome (more on that below).

Hybrid work can lead to overworking

Research from the Office of National Statistics found that employees who worked consistently from home were less than half as likely to have received a promotion than those who worked in an office. This is a result of something called ‘presence bias’. 

Presence bias is when those dialling in remotely are indirectly discriminated against. For example, they might miss out on meaningful conversations, which automatically places them at a disadvantage. 

Unless there are policies put in place, people who aren’t in the office as often as others can go unnoticed. And so, they fall into a vicious cycle of anxiety and burnout—overworking just to prove that they’re committed to their job . This is why it’s so important to create a Hybrid Working policy that offers fair opportunities for everyone in your team.

Hybrid working can sometimes mean that mental health issues become less visible

It’s not just effort that can go unnoticed. Without regular check-ins, you could have someone on your team who’s struggling with their mental health and you wouldn’t even know. 

Without knowing, your business can’t offer any support, or even adjust their workload accordingly. This can make things even worse.

How can businesses create flexible workplaces that are good for mental wellbeing?

Establish clear boundaries

With an office-only workplace, the boundaries practically set themselves. But they’re not quite as clear with hybrid working. 

As we know, boundaries are good for mental wellbeing and they can help to remove any uncertainty around what’s expected from everyone on the team. 

Be clear about things like working hours, when to come into the office, when not to come into the office, holidays, sick days and more. It’ll put everyone on the same page (and put them at ease too). 

Did you know, 38% of hybrid employees say their biggest challenge is knowing when and why to come into the office? That’s more than a third!

Give your team the freedom of choice

Just as Hybrid Workplaces need boundaries, they also need flexibility. Flexibility is something that 90% of employees value about their jobs

So how do you go about achieving this flexibility? Giving your team choice over when and where they work is a great place to start. This will not only make them feel trusted, it’ll help them to make more time for hobbies, relationships and adventures. 

The Hubble Pass gives your team access to hundreds of on-demand workspaces across the world, so they can find a place to work wherever they are. 

Kick presence bias out of your business

As we know, presence bias is a potential pitfall of hybrid Working and something that can lead to burnout, stress and anxiety. But it doesn’t have to be. The solution to presence bias is communication. 

To place everyone on an equal footing, you could:

  • Revisit how you measure performance so that goal-setting and achievements are the markers of success.
  • Make all meetings virtual-first. That means if one person’s joining virtually, everyone should join virtually, even if they’re in the same office. 
  • Keep crucial conversations outside of meetings to a minimum.
  • Train Line Managers and Senior Management to create equal opportunities for everyone on your hybrid team. 

Make time to meet in person 

When you’re part of a team, you want to feel like you’re part of a team. In-person meet-ups can help to build strong working relationships (and tackle loneliness too). “But what about virtual meet-ups?”

Virtual socialising certainly has its place, but it doesn’t compare to meeting face to face. In fact, a recent study showed that 66% of employees think that virtual coffee chats feel like “more of a chore” than an in-person get together. Eeesh. So, here are two things you can do: 

Prioritise policies over perks 

Perks are nice-to-haves. But policies can have a real impact on your team’s wellbeing. 

Consider going above and beyond for parental leave. What’s your policy for people who are grieving, or providing care? Is everyone meeting DSE requirements in and out of the office? Can you provide therapy and additional support for your team? (We use Spill for that). These are the things that really matter. 

Keen to write an inclusive workplace policy for your whole team? We’ve created a 6-step guide to writing (or rewriting!) an inclusive hybrid workplace copy. Download your free copy today!

Keen to build a ‘mentally healthy’ hybrid workplace?

A recent study showed that 77% of people believe their organisation actively promotes good mental wellbeing (up 19% from the year before). This just proves that more and more businesses are moving in the right direction when it comes to their team’s mental health. And we love to see it. 

So, we joined forces with Spill, the all-in-one mental health tool, to bring you: ‘How to Create a “Mentally Healthy” Hybrid Workplace‘—a webinar discussion that tackles the topic head on.

Our panel of passionate People Ops pros gave actionable tips on building and maintaining a “mentally healthy” hybrid workplace. This is crucial, as ‘poor mental health’ costs employers between £33 billion and £42 billion each year. Yes, you read that right.

Missed the webinar? Fear not. You can still access the webinar discussion on-demand via the link below, so you can get the guidance you need to support your teams’ mental health—no matter where they are.

Bonus resources

Our panel of passionate People Ops pros gave some fantastic advice and resources to help you create and maintain a ‘mentally healthy’ hybrid workplace. Some of our attendees wanted this in writing, so here’s an overview:

Spill

Spill is an all-in-one mental health support tool you can access through Slack. Here are Will’s top resources: 

  • Spill is offering free lunch & learn sessions for companies on ‘Overcoming imposter syndrome & self-doubt’ during April & May, to celebrate Stress Awareness Month and Mental Health Awareness Week. You can learn more and book a lunch & learn session for your team here.
  • Spill’s ultimate guide to spotting and preventing burnout in your teams contains over 70 practical tips and suggestions for how to burnout-proof your culture.
  • One of the remote team bonding games that actually seems to work is Rocket Crab—there are a few different games on there, and we particularly like the game ‘Draw Phone’.

Ben

Ben is the all-in-one global benefits platform used by companies around the world. Here are Alicia’s top resources: 

Perlego 

Perlego is a digital online library focusing on the delivery of academic, professional and non-fiction eBooks. Here are Ellie’s top resources:

  • The SCARF and SBI models. We used both of these to give employees more awareness and understanding of how to approach feedback
  •  I’d also really recommend Leapsome; it’s a great tool for structured feedback cycles as well as ad hoc feedback, and has been really helpful for us as we work towards building more of a culture of feedback.

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