The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about unprecedented changes to the world of work, including hybrid working. How do we deal with the practical and mental challenges of hybrid working?
How a hybrid working pattern can impact your mental health
Hybrid working means spending some of your time in the workplace and some working remotely — either from home or from another location, be it a co-working space, a local café or a living room. It may mean working with a child on your lap or at the kitchen table alongside a bunch of housemates.
Hybrid working can affect mental health in different ways.
When you live and work in the same space, it can be difficult to switch off from work at the end of the day.
Work creeps into your evenings and weekends, and you may end up working longer hours and feeling burnt out. 56% of people surveyed by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) said this was a problem they experienced during the pandemic.
During the pandemic, hybrid working has meant much more time working alone and at home than ever before. This had led to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
We know that personal connections and relationships are key to positive mental health. Going without them has inevitably taken a toll on wellbeing.
Anxiety about the future
Working from home has helped some people to achieve a better work-life balance. In these cases, the prospect of a full-time return to the workplace — and all of the practical considerations that that entails — is causing anxiety.
Tips for balancing mental health and a hybrid working pattern
If your mental health is suffering as a result of hybrid working, making some of these easy changes may help you to feel better.
Create a routine
Having a workday routine will help you gear yourself up for work and wind down at the end of the day, even when you’re not in the office.
Plan regular pre and post workday activities. You may choose to do some meditation or take a walk around the block — or even try one of our morning breathwork exercises to start the day with a calm mind.
Try to stick to your usual schedule and don’t be tempted to put in extra hours unless it’s absolutely necessary. And don’t forget to take breaks — they make you more productive and improve your wellbeing too. Microbreaks can be as simple as doing a few simple stretches (especially helpful if you’re sitting down all day), making yourself a cup of tea, or listening to the radio for 10 minutes.
Designate a workspace
If you can, try not to work from spaces where you could usually relax, such as your bed or sofa. A desk or table works best — both for your posture and in maintaining work boundaries.
Shutting the door of your home office or just properly switching off and putting away your laptop can help to physically and mentally mark the end of the work day.
Connect with others
With many of us working from home for all or part of the week, online meetings are here to stay and can be a really useful way to save time. But when you do go into the office, try to get a good dose of face to face interaction.
That might mean taking a walking meeting with a colleague, which gives you a chance to have a chat and get some steps in, or arranging lunch for you and your team on a day when you’re all in the office.
You can also up your social interaction on the days you work from home too. How about seeing if there are other fellow hybrid workers in your neighbourhood and arranging a coffee date?
And, engaging with others isn’t just for your own benefit. With colleagues and team members working from home some days a week, it’s important to have regular check-ins. In the office you may spot cues that a colleague is feeling stressed or down, but online it can be a little trickier to recognise. Having regular catch-ups, even if they’re short, is a good way to gauge your colleague’s or team’s mood.
Talk to your employer
If you’re worried about returning to the office on a more regular basis, you’re not alone. Two-thirds of people want to work flexibly when the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
Start by talking to your employer about your concerns. This is the first step to achieving a working pattern that supports your wellbeing as well as the goals of the company you work for.
And, if you’re managing a team, be sure to be clear about expectations for your staff about what hybrid working really means for your workplace. Is it two days in the office? Is it choosing a day when all the team are on-site so you can have team meetings and time to socialise?
Take care of your physical health
Physical health impacts mental health. So exercise, eat well and drink water. Step away from your laptop and give your eyes a break. Get some fresh air when you can.
Building healthy hybrid working routines will help you stay on top of both your mental and physical wellbeing.
Get back on track with mental health support
Adapting to a hybrid working pattern may not be easy. But putting practices in place and building an achievable routine to support your mental and physical health can really help. At Augmentive, we have a team of exercise and movement experts and nutritionists on hand to meet in-person or online at a time that suits your unique working schedule.