The latest article in our series on hybrid working explores how charity workers can look after their mental health when adapting to new working models
As we ease back out into the world, hybrid working is looking to become the new norm. And a welcome one at that according to a report by the workplace platform, Envoy, and Wakefield Research. Its Return to the Workplace Report showed that 70% of UK workers believe hybrid working would bring personal benefits, such as improved work-life balance and time saved from ditching the daily commute.
Notably, 34% said hybrid working would improve their mental health, and for those currently working from home all the time, that percentage increased to 50%. In fact, hybrid working is so important that over 55% said they’d look for another job if their employer didn’t offer it.
But what creates good mental health differs from person to person – and that’s particularly true when it comes to work. For some, working in a (now) old-school open plan office gives the social interaction and community they need to feel part of to do their best work. For others, that same environment can be uncomfortable or distracting.
And while working from home has brought with it a wealth of benefits for many – whether that be cutting the commute, financial savings, or being home for their children’s bedtime – it’s also brought with it isolation, Zoom fatigue and, especially for charity workers, the stress of knowing when to stop work for the day.
Hybrid working will bring its own challenges to both sides of the fence, here are our thoughts on navigating the new world of work.
With the sudden shift to homeworking in 2020, there was a lot of advice about wellbeing, and that will keep you in good stead. Making sure you have lunch hours, having a daily routine, setting a timer to prompt regular screen breaks – all those little things can add up to a healthier and happier work day.
Have a look at Mind’s ideas for positive homeworking. And many organisations offer wellbeing support – so make the most of it. For example, Diabetes UK offers a range of support including having mental health first aiders and holding Wellbeing Wednesdays.
One of the biggest challenges of hybrid working is building and maintaining relationships with people you don’t regularly meet with face-to-face. At the end of the day, we’re mammals, and respond to people not only through our minds (and screens) but through our physicality. Investing in building genuine relationships is going to be key to making hybrid working a success, with cross-team communication being one of the biggest challenges. Charities must ensure they have the right technical skills and platforms to ensure that’s possible.
As rules relax and we feel more comfortable in social situations, attending in-person social meet-ups and having regular face-to-face meetings will all help to build those relationships. For example, if there are colleagues who live near you, you could meet up in a local coffee shop for a casual meeting or just for a chat. This kind of informal, in-person meet up will be especially important if you start a new job or join a new team.
Zoom fatigue set in for many of us through the pandemic and is often the default way to communicate virtually. Before automatically setting up a Zoom, consider whether a phone call could be just as useful, or even just email. For example, British Red Cross has a Zoom-free hour every day and colleagues can choose to block out Zoom-free time in their diaries.
Use the tools that work for you and your team – and ensure that you are using those tools to the best of your ability. A creative team, for example, may be more productive using a flexible, ideas sharing platform like Milanote than a project management team would. Develop a toolkit of all the best tools that would make hybrid working seamless, productive, and stress-free.
The Future of Work 2021 report, carried out by Blackbaud Europe and The Resource Alliance, showed that 72% of the charity workers surveyed were working longer hours than before the pandemic, with nearly a third finishing work later than when they were purely office based. Having clear individual start/finish boundaries will help to support everyone in the team – especially with some working on-site and others at home on any particular day.
So, if a colleague chooses to email you at 10pm, you can ignore it, guilt free. And, importantly, try to set reasonable expectations across the team, ensuring that you refrain from emailing staff too late wherever possible. You can use tools to help you step away from work, too, which can provide the sort of relief that might be necessary.
This is new territory for everyone, so there are no ways of working set in stone yet. Which makes it the perfect time to have your say, and create a way of working that works for you. Some people will want to be in the office more than others. Some work better in the morning than the evening. Some will need to do the school-run.
As we transition to a more flexible way of working, set up or make use of feedback mechanisms at your workplace. Make sure you get what you need from hybrid working to have a happy, product work life.