Six ways to support employees’ health and wellbeing as the working world evolves
With restrictions continuing to ease, and more businesses looking to adopt a hybrid work environment, there’s likely to be a shift in your working situation in the near future.
Many companies already allow flexible working, but some will implement a permanent blended working model, with employees continuing to work from home a few days a week.
But what does this mean for employee stress levels? And how can you support them as we adjust to working in new ways or hybrid working environments?
Challenges of continued remote working
Some employees may have struggled to switch off after work due to blurred boundaries between work and relaxation. Others may have found themselves catching up on work outside of contractual hours or even using annual leave to complete work tasks – so called ‘leavism’. All of these can impact on employee sleep, increasing the chance of stress, burnout and health problems.
An added complication is that bedrooms have sometimes doubled-up as a workspace, with some employees engaging in ‘bedmin’ (doing admin in bed). These combined factors can result in disturbed body clocks, interrupted sleep and further stress.
With working from home likely to form part of the working week for the foreseeable future, it’s important we find ways to manage these challenges.
Things to consider as we head back to the office
Many employees have recognised the positives of working from home, such as less time spent commuting, more flexibility and better work-life balance. Indeed, many employees may have taken advantage of the extra time to pick up healthy habits and hobbies that can help to reduce stress, such as running, yoga and gardening.
As hybrid working begins, employees may start to spend more time away from home, so helping employees maintain these healthy habits should also be a focus.
There may be some apprehension about returning to an office if employees have been working from home for over a year. However, research in our The effects of remote working on stress, wellbeing and productivity whitepaper suggests that once we have adapted to new ways of working, a hybrid working model may mitigate many remote working difficulties, giving the best of both working worlds.
The tips below can be shared with employees to help them retain control of their work-life balance over the coming months:
Six ways to maintain a good work-life balance
- Establish clear boundaries: take a look at our leaving work at work checklist.
- Maintain good sleep habits: here are some practical tips for a good night’s sleep.
- Plan non-negotiables into your diary: good habits you’ve developed over lockdown are just as important as that 3:30pm meeting with Sharon from HR – set a reminder for your daily walk or meditation and stick to it.
- Create a healthy meal plan: use your extra time on working from home days to plan and prepare lunches ahead of time so your healthy eating doesn’t suffer.
- Take regular screen breaks: wherever you work, it’s important to get up and move around. Think about NEATS (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) – this is energy expended for everything we do that isn’t sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise. It includes the energy expended when typing, fidgeting or wandering from room to room. NEATS play a role in reducing stress and maintaining a healthy body weight.
- Clear out or reorganise your bedroom: Create and respect healthy borders between work and home. Even if you work from this room, ban bedmin!
For further insights on this topic, watch our panel discussion exploring the importance of embedding good mental wellbeing into the DNA of your organisation, focusing on the new standard in psychological health and safety in the workplace, ISO 45003.
The author is Gosia Bowling, emotional wellbeing enhancement and prevention lead, Nuffield Health.
This article is provided by Nuffield Health.
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