Hybrid working and the work-life balance

When Covid struck, many employees and employers had to quickly transition to home working. Now, two years on, some are returning to the office whilst many others are keen to retain the flexibility that home working affords.

The challenges and benefits of home working

There are obvious benefits to home working. Commuting to work or meetings can be expensive, stressful, and inefficient. Remote meetings and online collaborative working allows you to fit in more each day – including breaks, walks and trips to pick up groceries or the kids from school – that might have been challenging or impossible in pre-pandemic times.

On the other hand, home working has it’s challenges too. Many employees have experienced the inevitable blurring between work and non-work hours that such flexibility brings. When all you need to do your job is available at home, it’s tempting to succumb to the demands of work out of working hours.

Others have missed the camaraderie, support and interactions with colleagues. Because of multiple on-camera meetings each day, the term ‘Zoom fatigue’ has come to encapsulate the stress of so many more scheduled events without the de-stressing, decompressing nature of ad-hoc social interactions during breaks.

For those with an impairment or disability, enforced isolation has presented other additional and significant challenges.

Find out about your employees’ specific needs

You may already know employees who have particular needs. However, you may not, and many may experience additional challenges resulting from these new ways of working.

The only way you can be sure of how hybrid working is affecting your workforce is by asking them. Typical disclosure of need of any kind is low (often less than 5%) and we’ll see below how this is a mere fraction of the real picture.

A pan-diversity approach to disclosure

Employees are often reluctant to disclose and acknowledge that they need some adjustments to perform at their best. In many cases they may not even be aware that they can ask for help or that solutions exist.

Under the Equality Act (2010) there are nine areas – including age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and disability – under which employees are entitled to disclose needs and get adjustments. Often these adjustments are free or very low cost and, when put in place, they make an enormous difference.

To avoid people having to single themselves out, it’s important to take a holistic approach to exploring their needs. But how to know which questions to ask and, more importantly, what to do when they disclose?

One solution is ClearTalents. Every employee is invited and encouraged to disclose needs across all those areas mentioned above (plus exploring a safe workstation setup) by creating their diversity profile that covers all aspects of their working life.

Everyone from HR, OH to line managers get the right reasonable adjustments to help them perform at their best whether working from home, in an office, on the road – or a hybrid mixture of the above. By inviting and encouraging everyone disclosure radically rises (to around 65%) along with wellbeing and productivity, whilst stress, sickness and staff turnover dramatically decline.

AbilityNet and Sifa Fireside are two examples of organisations that saw a noticeable impact on employee wellbeing following their use of Clear Talents