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Hybrid work policies allow employees to rotate between working remotely and onsite. For example, an employee may work from home two days a week and onsite three days a week, split shifts or non-traditional hours to accommodate personal responsibilities.
There are tradeoffs. The flexibility afforded by hybrid work helps relieve stress and supports work-life balance. However, it also contributes to employees feeling overly dependent on technology, disconnected from colleagues and burned out. There are also mixed reports about impacts on productivity – ranging from higher, about the same and lower than it was before the pandemic.
Similar to questions about when the pandemic will become an endemic, some employers wonder when hybrid models driven by the need to reduce COVID-19 exposure risk will become the norm. Surveys show the transition is already occurring. For example:
Whether working onsite or remotely, there are distractions that can make it difficult for employees to stay focused. Some distractions – call them social encounters– are actually important contributors to physical and mental health. People are wired to thrive when they experience human connection.
In the hybrid work world, employers are encouraged to redefine workforce engagement and develop health and wellness programs that match the needs of employees and their dependents. Employees accustomed to diffusing work-related stress through connections at the workplace (e.g., chatting with colleagues at meetings and during breaks, walking at lunch with a group, after-hours socializing) and using commute time to decompress now have to find ways to create buffers between their professional and personal lives. Picking kids up from school in the middle of a workday, shutting down a laptop in a home office or packing up a project that occupies the dining room is not the same as physically leaving a workplace until tomorrow.
Here are some ways to help employees adapt to a hybrid environment:
Regardless of where and when they work, employees want assurance that their workplace is a safe place to be – physically and mentally. It’s important for employers to build trust and create a culture of empathy that inspires employee engagement, loyalty and creativity.
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