How to Help Hybrid Employees Achieve Work-Life Balance

  • Author: Melanie Haniph

A healthy work-life balance helps employees avoid stress, burnout, and other threats to their mental health. However, achieving this balance can be especially difficult for hybrid employees, many of whom are returning to on-site work for the first time in years.

So, in light of Mental Health Awareness Month, we’ve compiled some tips for helping your hybrid employees find greater harmony between their work and personal lives.

Benefits and Challenges of Hybrid Work

A hybrid work schedule supports work-life balance by giving employees more time. They spend less time commuting and thus have more time for family and personal interests. Also, as we found in our latest research study, the additional flexibility helps employees feel more connected at work and increases the likelihood they will stay longer.

Despite the benefits, hybrid work poses the following challenges to employee work-life balance: 

  • It can blur the line between work and personal time, especially on the days employees work from home.
  • Employees may feel added pressure to be “always on” from any location.
  • The variable weekly schedule and lack of scheduling autonomy can cause stress and burnout, eroding attempts at work-life balance.

Four Ways to Help Hybrid Employees Achieve a Better Work-life Balance

Post-pandemic, hybrid work has emerged as a popular model among companies of all sizes and industries. In a WFH Research survey, nearly half (44%) of employees in remote-capable jobs said they worked a hybrid schedule. Furthermore, an estimated 90% of companies are expected to return their employees to the office at least part-time by the end of 2024.

Here are some actions you can take to ensure hybrid work positively affects your employees’ work-life balance and mental health:

1. Set flexible hybrid work guidelines

Make sure employees understand how much autonomy they have in their hybrid work schedule. For example, employees could have complete control over which days of the week they work from home or office, or, they may be required to work in the office on certain days. Though schedules may vary by job function or team, flexibility is essential. The more flexibility employees have in setting their schedule, the better they can plan their lives outside work, make workweek childcare arrangements, and create a predictable commuting schedule.

Keep in mind that flexibility should also be coupled with guidance and communication. By ensuring employees know who is working on-site and when, you can help them avoid the common stressors of hybrid work, such as coming to the office to sit on Zoom calls all day. By finding a healthy balance between flexibility and reasonable guidelines, you can help employees remain productive and less stressed no matter where they work.

2. Ensure leaders model good work-life balance

Company leaders can make or break the transition to hybrid work. For instance, if leaders and managers send the message that on-site work is “better” or preferred over remote work, employees may feel pressure to conform to that preference, even if it negatively affects their work-life balance. Instead, leaders should set a good example and promote the hybrid model by:

  • Working a hybrid schedule and practicing healthy work-life balance habits
  • Supporting company initiatives that encourage work-life balance, such as occasional Zoom-free and meeting-free workdays
  • Utilizing internal communication channels to share mental health resources and other helpful tools with employees
  • Supporting employee resource group (ERG) activities that keep employees connected in and out of the office, such as workshops, virtual mentorship, and happy hours

3. Avoid an “always on” culture

Since a hybrid schedule can make it challenging for employees to unplug from work, especially on remote workdays, managers can help by creating a team culture that supports a healthier balance between employees’ work and personal lives. They can do this by:

  • Encouraging employees to take time for “heads down” independent work when needed
  • Establishing clear boundaries between work and non-work time, and scheduling meetings accordingly
  • Measuring and rewarding effort and results rather than face time or hours on-site 

4. Reduce friction between remote and on-site work

Transitioning from a productive home office environment to the office and back again can be highly stressful for some employees. At home, they can dress comfortably, avoid a commute, and save money by eating lunch at home, but when going to the office, they must spend money and time commuting and packing or buying lunch. When they get to the office, they may have a less productive workspace and feel isolated because other members of the team are working from home. However, you can help reduce their stress by:

  • Giving teams autonomy in setting a hybrid schedule that conforms to their needs for collaboration and connection
  • Ensuring employees have a dedicated office workspace, or at a minimum, the tools they need for a more productive and seamless shift to in-office work
  • Offering commuting subsidies or other benefits to help employees get back into a commuting routine

Ensure Hybrid Work and Work-Life Balance Go Hand in Hand

Hybrid work presents many opportunities to help employees destress, build connections with their work and team, and stay productive. With the organization’s ongoing support, hybrid work can also support employees’ mental health.
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