Global work culture shifted in an unprecedented way after the pandemic. For the first time, the number of homeworkers more than doubled leaving many in disarray. Businesses have now adapted to the technology that supports hybrid work, but what about the workers’ morale? Reports state that as many as 41.6% of remote workers have experienced mental health decline.

In this article, we share top recommendations for supporting remote employees with mental wellness in mind, ensuring that hybrid work, works for them.

Burnout: What does it look like?

Burnout, or workplace fatigue, is defined by Mayo Clinic as “a state of physical and emotional exhaustion that could eventually lead to a loss in productivity.” It occurs after long-term stress, and is often noticed by the following early signs:

  1. Mood swings while working
  2. Decreased job performance
  3. Feelings of cynicism

However, this only scratches the surface as many symptoms affect staff in different ways. Overall, most workers struggle without the usual commute to a workplace as it removes the barrier between ‘work time’ and ‘personal time’. In this landscape, remote work burnout easily occurs. Therefore, if you want to unlock the benefits of hybrid work, your company needs well-thought-out systems to ensure that workers feel seen and heard while collaborating online.

Setting up your Workplace at Home

Firstly, remote workers should be encouraged to create an ideal home office as they will spend a lot of time there. We recommend thoroughly tidying the space as studies show that cluttered environments are distracting, so by organising the home office you create an environment that is easier to concentrate in. Other useful suggestions for optimising the home workspace include:

  1. Using a Quiet Place: find an area away from the noise where it’s easy to focus
  2. Buying an Ergonomic Chair: e.g., a “comfy” chair, one that allows users to sit comfortably throughout the entire day
  3. Investing in a Headset: try a high-quality headset with noise-cancellation features for improved concentration
  4. Using the Right Tools: when working from home, having team software that lets users seamlessly work online is important e.g., Microsoft 365 and Teams
  5. Setting Up an External Monitor: connect your laptop to a larger display for more screen real estate, this makes it easier to work with complex documents
  6. Playing Music: this can help remote workers stay energised and maintain morale while working long shifts at home

Clearly Communicate your Hybrid Working Plan

Your company’s hybrid working plan must specify crucial details e.g., which staff work remotely full-time, and which are permitted a few office days per week. It should also include the resources you will supply your team with, a description of your collaboration processes at work, and the strategies you will employ for a safe return to in-office work in the future.

When forming this plan, consider the following questions:

  • Will collaboration technology like digital whiteboards and smart meeting rooms be required?
  • What equipment will employees be given for their home office?
  • What COVID security measures will be taken for in-office hours?

Remind Staff of Work-from-home Wellness Strategies

Allocate time to remind staff of healthy work-from-home strategies and speak with them to learn more about their needs. Ask them if training or additional resources could help them use these strategies more effectively.

Remember, the small details matter when promoting wellness, even “nonessentials” like plants or office décor to brighten a home office can boost an employee’s morale.

Utilise Technology for a Seamless Transition between Home and the Office

It is also vitally important that all employees have a consistent working experience. Microsoft SharePoint allows users to easily access documents and collaborate no matter where they are. This enables employees to still feel part of the team, while working remotely. This experience should be seamless, and secure.

We also recommend utilising a high-quality conferencing system and digital whiteboards so you can simulate the office experience by collaborating in real-time regardless of each member’s location.

Dedicate Time to Connecting with Others

This detail is essential to preventing staff loneliness, weakened relationships, and the erosion of your team’s culture. To keep your employees connected, here are some top recommendations:

  • Schedule regular time for team chats via video for face-to-face interaction, you can do this at the start of the week and ask each member to share a highlight from their weekend.
  • Have a strategy for new hybrid employees to get connected to the team, especially during their first few weeks.
  • If possible, have one day a week in which the team are permitted to come to the office and meet in person.
  • Organise a fun activity/event for your team to come to, this can be done in recognition of hard work – incentivising their continued efforts.

Encourage Video Interaction while avoiding Video Fatigue

Video conferencing is invaluable for remote teams as it promotes communication, strengthens relationships, and lowers the risk of loneliness. It is also useful for productivity: studies report that remote workers who use video were 2.4 times more likely to say that it improved collaboration. However, video call fatigue e.g., tiredness from the cognitive effort our brains expend as we unconsciously read nonverbal body language on screen, may occur. Leaders should be considerate of this when organising video calls.

Achieve Wellness and Productivity with ThinkShare

Remember that technical and sentimental issues equally affect hybrid work. For example, are your employees close to burnout as their technology is lagging? If so, it risks harming their quality of work and, therefore, your company’s overall productivity.

This year, Microsoft have launched Viva, a solution with four modules designed to improve employee engagement, effectiveness and wellbeing. It includes Insights where employees can find mindfulness exercises from the app ‘HeadSpace, and Connections which keep employees engaged with the company and personal updates.

Ask yourself: do my hybrid workers feel connected to the rest of the company? Do they feel empowered to take time for personal development and wellness, even when not in the office? Have they been equipped with the right tools to work effectively in this environment? If you’re unsure about any of these essential queries or how Viva could support your business, ThinkShare can help by assessing your team’s needs and providing essential tech support and training.

Learn more about adopting the software for hybrid work here or book a call with one of our consultants for more information on how we can support your business objectives.