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22 Jan 2024

A Workplace In Balance 2024

Chapter 2: Hybrid work - the implications for work wellbeing programmes

As 2024 unfolds, the corporate landscape is increasingly embracing a hybrid work model, presenting new challenges and opportunities in the realm of employee wellbeing. To gain insights into this evolving scenario, we consulted Zoe Eccleston, a renowned expert in corporate health and wellbeing. 

For our second chapter in the series, we're covering all things hybrid work: Zoe is offering valuable perspectives on maintaining the mental and physical health of employees, whether they are working remotely or in an office setting.

Employer and employee responsibilities

"In a hybrid work environment, the wellbeing dynamic shifts," Zoe begins, addressing the shared responsibilities of employers and employees. Employers are tasked with creating an environment conducive to both mental and physical health, which involves not only providing resources but also cultivating a culture that encourages their use. Meanwhile, employees must take an active role in utilising these resources and managing their own wellbeing. Zoe emphasizes, "It's a partnership where both parties contribute to fostering a healthy and adaptable work environment, catering to the nuances of both remote and in-office setups."

Survey staff for wellbeing insights

Moving to the topic of understanding staff needs, Zoe highlights the value of staff surveys in a hybrid workplace. "Effective communication is the cornerstone of understanding employee wellbeing," she states. These surveys act as a critical tool in gathering feedback on the challenges and preferences of the workforce, essential for developing wellbeing programmes that resonate with all employees. Zoe advocates using this feedback to identify key trends and areas needing attention, ensuring that the wellbeing programmes are inclusive and responsive to the needs of both remote and in-office staff.

Create rituals and norms around casual conversation, also when not in person

Zoe then addresses the importance of casual conversations in a digital workplace. "Casual interactions are often the unsung heroes in understanding employee wellbeing," she notes. She suggests creating structured opportunities for these informal interactions, such as scheduled virtual coffee breaks or casual pre-meeting chats. These practices can foster a sense of community and offer informal channels to gauge employee wellbeing, especially important in a setting where physical cues are absent.

Analyse data on employee resource usage

On the use of data in understanding employee preferences, Zoe underscores its significance. "Data analysis can reveal much about employee behaviour and needs," she explains. Monitoring how employees use resources like gym discounts or wellness apps can provide insights into their lifestyle preferences and help employers adapt their offerings. This approach ensures that benefits and resources remain relevant and accessible to all employees, regardless of their work location.

Focus on digital wellbeing offerings

Lastly, Zoe discusses the crucial role of digital wellbeing offerings in a hybrid model. "The digital realm is key to modern employee wellbeing," she asserts. She recommends a diverse range of accessible digital solutions, from virtual mental health support to online fitness programmes. These digital offerings ensure that all employees, irrespective of location, have equal access to wellbeing resources, promoting inclusivity and addressing the diverse needs of a modern workforce.

For a truly hybrid workplace, create a balanced approach

Zoe Eccleston's insights shed light on the complex nature of employee wellbeing in the hybrid work era. A balanced approach that involves collaborative efforts, open communication, data-driven strategies, and digital innovation can lead to a supportive and healthy workplace. This comprehensive strategy is crucial in ensuring the wellbeing of all employees, both in remote and office settings, in today's dynamic work environment.

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