Owning wellbeing: the secret to hybrid working success

Getting teams to own their own wellbeing helps to ensure employers make the most of new ways of working, says flexible culture experts the Culture Builders.

Happy women sitting at laptop


How do we create a culture that allows people to thrive at hybrid working? While there are multiple wellbeing benefits to working less in the office, there are also challenges. The Culture Builders have spent many years advising on building flexible cultures and they believe the important thing is to get teams to own the wellbeing challenges that hybrid and remote working throws up, from loneliness and exhaustion to a blurring of home/work lines and a disconnect from colleagues.

Before Covid, says Jane Sparrow, founder of The Culture Builders, wellbeing was conceived of as something individuals or organisations as a whole were responsible for. Yet it is at a team level that wellbeing initiatives have the most impact.

Getting wellbeing right for hybrid and remote workers can bring significant benefits. A Harvard study showed a 6:1 return on investment if employers invest in successful wellbeing initiatives. Yet, while sharing best practice can provide food for thought, the Culture Builders says that what works for one employer cannot be copied and pasted to another. Every employer has their own unique characteristics and challenges when it comes to creating a culture in which its people can thrive.

Sparrow says that the last two years has seen a big focus on policy change, for instance, an upgraded or new flexible working policy, but little attention has been paid to the managers who have to implement these policies or to the behaviours they need to encourage to make a success of the policies. Managers therefore don’t feel confident about implementing policies or about how to address any performance issues or working styles. “It is hard to have difficult conversations and that is even harder now,” says Sparrow.

Tuddl contains a whole range of prompts to action that can help shift behaviours covering everything from motivation and inclusion to personal growth, focus and emotional wellbeing.

She adds that it is vital that any changes in how employers work are tested and feedback obtained from all those affected, including clients. The Culture Builders favours an approach which focuses on measuring what wellbeing looks like in each team. That can be used as a catalyst for conversations among team members which then spurs action. Different members of the team can be given different responsibilities in any of six areas, from physiological and emotional wellbeing to personal growth and inclusion, with behaviour change coming about through ongoing ‘nudges’, small sustainable actions that create better wellbeing habits. The aim is to make everyone feel valued.

A playful approach to wellbeing

Measuring wellbeing regularly shows if there are particular challenges at different times of the year. The Culture Builders also recommends checking in weekly, asking up to nine questions a week to prompt reflection in a playful way and voting every couple of weeks as a team on actions that can be taken to boost wellbeing. The key is to get the team engaged and taking responsibility for their own wellbeing.

Their new digital performance and wellbeing coach, Tuddl, contains a whole range of prompts to action that can help shift behaviours covering each of the six areas outlined above. For instance, scheduling in regular meetings with people who give you positive energy; getting team members to suggest trophies for individuals, the team or the organisation as a whole which they have to draw and share while saying why they are awarding it [it can be for big or small things]; inviting people to walk and talk meetings; getting team members to experiment together with different ways of ending their days to avoid the work/home merge; getting team members to research a topic that is important to the team for 20 minutes over a week and coming together to share it; and putting pictures of people who are not in the meeting in person on chairs so that they are not forgotten and then updating them about what happens in the room when the meeting ends as well as starting the video link early so they hear the chat as people coming into the room.

Work on Tuddl was started before Covid in response to changes that were already occurring in the workplace and the challenges managers were facing. Sparrow says building human connections is vital to getting the most out of hybrid and remote working. “If people feel valued, their performance will follow,” she says. “It sounds basic, but saying and doing it are totally different things. It’s about creating the right beliefs and behaviours so that people own their own wellbeing.”

*WM People is holding an employer roundtable on emerging practice in hybrid working today. Look out for our free white paper on the discussions in early June.

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