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InfoQ Homepage News How the Hybrid and Remote Working Revolution Impacts Maintaining Mental Health

How the Hybrid and Remote Working Revolution Impacts Maintaining Mental Health

Whether working remotely or in a hybrid environment, the way in which we work with one another is changing, and can impact mental health and well-being. Personality characteristics can influence how we may respond differently to remote or hybrid working environments. Organizations can foster a sense of psychological safety at work by focusing on culture, transparency, clarity, learning from failure, and supportive leadership.

Helen Bartimote will speak about the interaction between hybrid or remote working and maintaining our mental health at QCon London 2023. This conference is held March 27-29.

According to Bartimote, to understand how hybrid and remote working impact mental health and well-being, you need to consider the relationship between the individual employee and the system of work they are functioning within. Maintaining mental health and well-being and staying resilient is a complex interaction between four areas: personality, coping mechanisms, personal history and the environment someone is in:

The way in which a person is interacting with a hybrid and remote system and how that impacts their mental health and well-being in a positive or negative way is determined by considering those four areas.

Our individual personality traits will moderate our experience of pressure. They will also determine what we need to feel psychologically healthy at work. According to Bartimote, how well someone understands themselves and how much control they feel they have within work is vital to their sense of wellbeing and ultimately their mental health.

Bartimote suggests that organizations focus on five key areas to foster a sense of psychological safety at work:

  1. Establish an open and respectful communication culture. Individuals feel able to take interpersonal risks by having candid conversations knowing they are safe to do so.
  2. Ensure the organization is as transparent as it can be, and that leaders show active support for the psychologically safe culture. They act as role models by showing great skill in having candid conversations.
  3. Ensure there is clarity in roles and responsibilities. Ensure there is no confusion regarding the expectations everyone has for each other in the organization.
  4. Ensure that failure is discussed and mistakes are used as opportunities for learning and growth, as much as possible.
  5. Leadership practices follow a supportive and consultative approach with high emotional intelligence displayed.

InfoQ interviewed Helen Bartimote about mental health in remote or hybrid working environments.

InfoQ: How can our personality characteristics influence how we respond to remote or hybrid working environments?

Helen Bartimote: For example, let’s take the extroverted person who is living alone and working remotely. If the environment they are in does not enable them to make new connections and spend time with work colleagues socially online, or create opportunities for physical meet ups throughout the year, they will experience a sense of feeling deprived of social energy that helps them stay happy. If this is further compounded with difficulties sustaining connections outside of work, due to maybe workload or other factors - the outcome could lead to decreased mental health and wellbeing.

Similarly - consider the introverted person who works for an organisation remotely but feels little autonomy or control over their work. They may be in back-to-back zoom calls with no time to be alone with their thoughts and re-energise. Furthermore, if the system of work does not promote feedback or candid communication, then they may be unable to express this experience to their manager in a psychologically safe way.

These are just a few examples of how personality traits can interact with the system of remote or hybrid working.

InfoQ: What have you learned at Container Solutions?

Bartimote: We have learnt many things over the years, and the psychologically safe culture is something we continue to develop our understanding of and how to continually reinforce this message. Feeling a sense of autonomy, belonging and competence are three core pillars that we try to ensure employees experience during their time in Container Solutions and we have a range of systems and processes which also support this.

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