Fatigue, stress, burnout, musculoskeletal disorders… Hybrid work exposes employees to numerous psychosocial risks (PSR) that directly impact their quality of life at work. Tackling these various risks requires companies to be proactive and implement a series of initiatives in parallel. You know most of them, but they now need to be deployed to measure their effectiveness and the benefits on the employee experience. Here are a few ideas to initiate this process.
1) Nurturing relationships
Regular communication is a prerequisite to maintain cohesion between hybrid teams. Several initiatives can be put in place to keep the link between hybrid teams.
For example, you can encourage informal exchanges between employees through thematic groups that center around common interests (regular joggers, fans of mutually favorite dining establishments…), on your enterprise social network. Encourage employees to create their own groups! That way, if several people like hiking, they can create a group to discuss it and organize outings.
Team building events, both virtual and physical, should be an integral part of your cohesion strategy. At Gitlab, one of the first companies to go 100% remote, employees regularly organize “breakout calls”— informal meetings with their team to talk about anything but work. The company also organizes virtual cafés with people from within the company that don’t know each other thanks to the Donut application.
These team events are also an opportunity to offer a sports activity, such as a videoconference yoga class, to encourage employees to move more. At Gymlib, sport is a powerful vector for social contact at a distance. In particular, gamification is used to encourage employees to play sports together and motivate themselves through challenges and a points system.
In order to reduce the isolation of hybrid workers, it may also be useful to give them access to coworking spaces closer to their homes. This will allow them to meet new people and smoothly adopt a new way of working.
2) Establish and communicate rules
What’s more, it’s necessary to further codify the company’s operating modes. In addition to the teleworking charter, the company can offer hybrid employees an interactive guide with its own recommendations.
This manual may specify, for example:
- Best practices for using the enterprise social network: login and logoff times, meeting time slots, groups in which to communicate…
- Security rules: only use authorized applications, set up strong passwords and update them regularly, properly handle any suspicious emails received to avoid phishing…
- A list of materials and equipment required for telework that respects the employee’s posture and well-being
- Recommendations for work organization: create a space dedicated to work, set goals at the beginning of the day, isolate yourself to make calls, etc.
- Good practices to adopt to ensure well-being at work: take regular breaks, pay attention to your posture and screen position, separate work and personal time, communicate regularly with colleagues, etc.
At Gitlab, a 7,000-page “handbook” formalizes all the rules and working methods, so that nothing is left to chance. Since the company doesn’t have a physical office, it has adopted a very strong written culture: for example, meeting minutes are particularly detailed so that all teleworkers have access to information—whether or not they were present at a meeting.
3) Train managers
Most managers have little or no experience in managing hybrid teams. It’s therefore necessary to support them and give them good practices to adapt their management to this new way of working.
For example, let them know to be as explicit as possible when defining the roles and objectives of employees. Giving regular feedback (ideally weekly) is also essential to help teams move forward in their work.
Also read: Hybrid Work: Best Management Practices
Several resources can be made available to managers to support them and help them develop their skills. For example, you can create frequently asked questions on your internal social network, which will be regularly updated with the various questions managers have.
At Orange, information about the risks of teleworking is disseminated to managers via the Plazza enterprise social network. “The primary goal of these prevention documents is to create a relationship based on trust between employees and their manager, and in particular to encourage managers to give employees a voice,” explains Dr. Guy Mouyen, occupational physician at Orange.
Don’t hesitate to vary the media, for example by offering online videos, quizzes, practical videoconferencing workshops, webinars, etc. If you don’t have the resources in-house, you can also offer online or face-to-face training.
4) Raise employee awareness
To prevent psychosocial risks and musculoskeletal disorders, the company must raise employee awareness. For example, it can set up training sessions to show employees what posture to adopt in front of the computer, how to position their screen and seat properly, and what exercises to do to stretch.
This advice can then be broken down into practical information sheets, which can be made available to employees via the internal social network.
In addition, “the company must make employees more aware of their right to disconnect, for example by encouraging them not to reply to their professional emails outside their working hours,” recalls Dr. Mihaela Izvoranu, Occupational Physician at Ciamt (Inter-company and Artisanal Center for Occupational Health).
“To help employees disconnect, the company can invite them to test power naps or techniques for resourcing through breathing or mindfulness. Employees can also take the initiative to do a “digital detox” from time to time, i.e. disconnecting from all their electronic devices for a few hours, a few days—even a week,” adds Brigitte Vaudolon, psychologist and occupational well-being coach.
Be attentive to your employees and encourage them to share their difficulties with you (information overload, fatigue, lack of recognition, etc.). For example, if several employees complain about having too much work, you will have to re-evaluate their workload. A collective psychosocial risk prevention approach can be implemented to prevent health risks and stress at work. If employees feel the need, you can also set up a listening and psychological support unit.
For Dr. Guy Mouyen, “the employee is the main player in prevention. Even if they are not the decision-makers, we must ensure that they can express themselves on their difficulties, whatever the working conditions. At Orange, we have communicated instructions to managers and HR departments on how to manage this suffering. Since the confinement, we have also set up internal and external counselling and support numbers.”
5) Properly equip employees
If changing one’s work habits is necessary, being well equipped is even more important. In fact, 85% of teleworkers report having been interrupted at least once in a meeting due to technical problems.¹ It’s therefore necessary to ensure that each employee has a good WiFi connection, a responsive laptop that works well, along with one or more screens, a headset, and any other equipment they may need.
You can also adopt standing desks, which reduce the sedentary nature of employees. This is what has been implemented at Orange at its Blagnac campus. Indeed, according to Dr. Guy Mouyen, “getting up regularly from your desk and doing exercises isn’t enough. The most important thing is to reduce the time spent sitting down as much as possible. My goal is not to spend more than 4 hours a day sitting at the office or teleworking. “
In addition, employees must have the tools to communicate and collaborate remotely effectively. Today, the intranet is no longer sufficient to meet the needs of hybrid teams. More and more companies are turning to the digital workplace: an all-in-one digital solution that allows employees to access all the information, applications and documents they need to work. With the digital workplace, the hybrid worker can work anywhere, anytime, on any device.
Switching to a hybrid work mode is not without risks. Indeed, working at a distance on a regular basis can lead to a feeling of isolation, burnout, and even musculoskeletal disorders among employees. To prevent such problems, setting teleworking guidelines, raising awareness, training employees, maintaining links, and providing employees with the appropriate tools are all important.
You want to know more about the challenges and best practices of hybrid work? Read our white paper: “The Future of Work: Make Way for Hybrid!”
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¹ “2020 State of the Digital Workplace” Igloo study
Author: Emmanuelle Abensur