Teams are fragile right now and will be for awhile, recovering from a shared experience that has been traumatic for many. Creating new ways of working that emphasize mental health can only benefit our employees, which in turn benefits our businesses. As we all know, suddenly moving office-based teams to working from home has transformed the workplace landscape. Many leaders learned that their teams could work effectively outside of the office and many team members figured out how to make WFH work for them. Some companies like Twitter have announced that working from home is their new normal while others are gradually re-opening their offices within health guidelines. But rather than choose one or the other, it's looking like a hybrid model may be the ideal solution moving forward. Here's why:
WFH can be life changing for some
Getting your usual commute time back into your day creates space for other things employees need to thrive. Whether it's the ability to do a workout, walk your kids to school, cook healthier meals or just catch up with a friend, having more time in the day is an invaluable gift. Now that many of have had it, we don't want to lose it and go back to racing around again.
Extroverts need office connection
The outgoing members of our teams need regular opportunities to connect with others to stay mentally well. Often online gatherings just don't do the job and the more social employees are left feeling unfulfilled or even a little empty. Providing a space for your team to connect in person can help ensure that your introverts and extroverts are getting what they need.
Introverts like having their own space
For those who like their alone time and have a great home office setup, the idea of going back into an office full time can be daunting. They can still interact as needed to get the job done, but are free from the small talk and other social interactions that make them uncomfortable or anxious.
Home isn't right - or safe - for everyone
Some employees don't have a safe, productive space to work at home. Whether it's a loud environment, cramped space, kids or partners, there are many reasons why integrating an office into your home can be less than ideal. Some people rely on leaving their homes for part of the day to get away from stressors ... and in some cases, abusers. Giving your entire team the option to choose enables those who need to be in an office full time the opportunity to do so.
Balanced options can created balanced teams
Overall, a work structure that enables a balance of WFH and office days can empower team members to feel more productive and engaged. They could be more present when they're collaborating with others because it won't be an everyday occurrence. They could be more focused working alone at home because they will have a greater opportunity to access a flow state. The ratio of home to office days can always be adjusted and it's worth experimenting with to see what kind of results can be achieved.
It'll take some work
There are a lot of logistics to consider when accommodating a hybrid workplace. How much space do you need? Do certain teams come in on certain days? How does everyone connect across the company? It's worth the work though, as the benefits to team productivity, happiness and mental wellness are a valuable business asset.