Is hybrid working beneficial for employee wellbeing?
October 9 2023Read more
Working from home can offer employees a better work-life balance and since the pandemic, more companies have offered hybrid working weeks, becoming the ‘new normal’. There are many benefits to working half of the time in the office and the other half at home, especially when thinking about employee wellbeing. Yet, there are many reasons why working remotely for a portion of the week can negatively affect employees’ wellbeing.
Hybrid working is a form of flexible working that allows employees to work remotely, dividing their week up with some days spent in the office and some days working remotely from home. The Covid-19 pandemic saw a rise in hybrid and remote working so companies could still keep business going as well as maintain social distancing. Due to this, a lot of the stigmatisation of working from home went out the window and more organisations kept hybrid and remote working for their employees for a number of other reasons, like employee wellbeing.
Cutting travel time
Hybrid working can be extremely helpful to employees’ work-life balance because of the single fact that it cuts out travel time and cost. Some employees travel well over an hour just to get in and out of work every day. This is a large chunk of time over a week period which could be well spent at home with family, and friends or just doing something for their wellbeing, such as going to the gym or writing a journal.
Overall, employees feel happier when they have more time for themselves outside of work. Relieving the stress of commuting additionally reduces the costs of transport, such as petrol, parking, and train fares thus alleviating some money worries.
The power of flexibility
If a company offers hybrid working, an employee can feel empowered by the ability to work remotely for a few days out of the week, allowing them more personal time and feeling that they control their working hours. The hybrid model allows employees flexibility and autonomy to manage their daily and personal lives outside of work with a lot less stress for things such as doctor appointments and picking children up from school.
Loneliness at home
Loneliness is something that affects all of us at some point in our lives and can negatively impact many individuals. The introduction of hybrid and remote working only intensified this for many employees. The absence of colleague contact and the inability to socialize during the working day can promote loneliness since contact with other people is extremely limited on days working from home. With social situations mainly driven by online meetings, phone calls, and emails, the feeling of isolation is very common with hybrid and remote working for many employees.
Working alone comes with its own unique risks that employers need to be extremely mindful of. Risks can come from employees having obvious risks due to the nature of their work, such as handling hazardous substances and materials and electrical equipment. There are other risks when working at home alone, such as slips, trips and falls, display screen equipment and stress. There is an increased risk at home as there is no one there to help employees when these risks arise.
Employers will need a lone working risk assessment that will help detect potential risks to the employee when working remotely. An employer’s basic duty of care is to implement while employees work from home to uphold all health and safety regulations and protect employee well-being.
Switching off from work during non-work hours is essential for mental well-being. However, with the rise of home working, many people struggle to distinguish between work and personal life. The lines between home and work become blurred when work invades your home. Readily available equipment, coupled with work pressure, can make it all too easy to answer an email or take a call when employees should be focusing on their personal lives.
This is why it is incredibly important to set aside an area that is just for work. If you do not have the space, make sure all work equipment is stored away somewhere so the temptation to pick up that last email is not there.
Overall, hybrid and remote working have advantages and disadvantages to their name. However, if managed correctly, a hybrid working role offers the best of both worlds – maintaining a connection to your colleagues and the wider purpose of your role, while simultaneously allowing flexibility and a better work-life balance, improving mental health.
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