Back to the office: How to maintain employee engagement in a hybrid

Back to the office: How to maintain employee engagement in a hybrid

For employees in 2022, hybrid working is not a new concept. Following the slight interlude towards the end of 2021 encouraging complete remote working, we have since been told we can resume office work. Many businesses will now make the return to the office, albeit maintaining flexible working – with a combination of home and office work.  

A hybrid working model certainly has its perks – reduced commuting times and less chance of buying expensive coffees! However, there are also plenty of downsides. Bridging the gap between home and office workers in terms of authentic interactions and coordinating work can be tricky to navigate, and we’ve seen examples of less meaningful connections being made as a result. Combine this with shorter, darker days and you may find that the colder seasons emulate feelings of loneliness and unfulfillment when trying to make sense of the hybrid world. 

What does this mean for businesses? As we ease back into hybrid working, employers need to rethink their strategy on how best they can motivate and maintain wellbeing in the workplace creating happy, engaged employees. By following some simple tips, businesses can restore and nurture employee wellbeing to beat those blues.

Make Conversation a top priority

Staying connected at home and in the office is hard. With less than half of employees saying they would feel able to talk openly with their line manager if they were suffering from stress, now more than ever workplaces need to invest in further resources to encourage open and honest conversation. Allowing input and feedback on company protocols, as well as establishing a safe space for employees to talk about any aspects of their personal lives that may affect their performance at work reminds staff that their mental health is a priority. Creating continuity of open conversation settings for instance, choosing video call or F2F meetings can help employees to have a set space to talk openly. 

Encourage regular breaks

Whether you’re working from home or in the office, allocating fresh air breaks and time to move your body should be prioritised. Staying physically active throughout the day and taking shorter breaks more often will increase productivity and motivation, ultimately lending to good mental health.

If much of your work day revolves around staring at your computer screen, try to stay off social media in your down time. Apart from the obvious implications on poor eye health, social apps can emulate feelings of loneliness and disconnect with real life. Encouraging staff to occupy this time by reading a book or taking a short brisk walk can help them to manage feelings of stress and anxiety.

Reconfigure your environment 

Finding the right desk space is essential to working productively. Employees’ physical environment shouldn’t be put on the back foot, and where possible businesses should ensure office set up is as effective at home as it is in the office. Employees should take some time to work out exactly what works best for them – a productive environment means productive work!

Nourish your body

We know that there is a recognised relationship between nutrition and mental health – what we eat and drink affects how we feel, think and behave. In the winter, it’s important to support your immune system with a range of different foods. For example, eating citrus fruits, red peppers and tomatoes can provide your body with a Vitamin C hit, whilst foods such as salmon, mushrooms and eggs can provide the Vitamin D that we’re missing from the sun.

Companies can endorse healthy eating by providing a wellbeing benefits system such as Just Eat Pay, where employees can order their favourite healthy lunch using a pre-loaded balance, wherever they’re working from

This winter has proven a tricky time for businesses to work through. The blue, wintery feeling that we often get is exacerbated by uncertainty in working patterns. However, companies should use these tips all year round, not just during the colder months, to remind employees you value their feelings and view their mental health as a priority. Encouraging conversation and healthy practises such as exercise and nourishment will benefit your staff beyond the office and into their day-to-day lives.

Matt Ephgrave
Matt Ephgrave

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