Now that the University Executive Board has agreed to continue hybrid working arrangements for office-based roles in professional services using the Bath Hybrid model, many of us are going to have to face change and uncertainty like we never have before.
There is no one size fits all, everyone’s situation is unique however, research in organisational psychology suggests that there are a range of principles and traits that will help you navigate this new era: Here are three general principles that will give you the best chance of thriving as a hybrid worker.
- Talk and connect
- Plan and prepare
- Live and learn
Talk and connect
Social interactions are complex, full of ambiguities and ambivalence. This is even more true when you can’t be face to face with people, when you are meeting people online and offline at once, and when you have to discern what others want to do even when you haven’t seen them in a while.
A simple and effective technique to help develop empathy is perspective-taking. Next time you’re asking a colleague for help or need to give feedback, spend a few moments reflecting on how your message or behaviour may be perceived and interpreted. For example, ask yourself how your overwhelmed colleague could react to a last-minute request for help, or how might your direct report feel about a message sent after work hours?
Many of the arguments and tensions we experience at work, virtually or in person, are the result of miscommunication and incorrectly attributing the intentions behind the words and actions of others. The more you practice this, the more you will be able to respond to and navigate others’ emotions.
Being able to talk about our mental health, including our thoughts and feelings, is a sign of connection and a good attitude towards health at work and home.
- You can contact one of our volunteer Wellbeing Champions who can talk about and share relevant resources and services with you.
- Our network of Coaches come from a wide range of roles across the University. Engaging in a coaching conversation can give you the opportunity to take a breath in a safe and supportive environment and explore practical steps for ways forward.
- The University provides a free and confidential counselling service Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) for staff, which is now available remotely.
- The Education Support Partnership is a 24/7 telephone support line which gives teachers access to professional coaches and counsellors 365 days a year.
- Plan for spontaneity. It might not be as fun as running into a colleague in the break room, but planned virtual watercooler moments can help energise a hybrid workforce by making time for problem solving and ideation across teams.
Plan and prepare
Since the hybrid age of the world has diluted the rules and norms governing work, you are much more likely to thrive if you can find ways to come up with new ideas, turn those ideas into cool innovations, and be open to new ways of working.
Think about your job and your personal situation. Does anything need to change to help you to balance your different requirements?
Keep up to date on the plans the University has by engaging with the internal communications such as the Bath Hybrid model, or the Strategy and Values document. If you haven’t been told what to expect at work, ask what provisions have been made to create a safe work environment, confirm the priorities of your role and discuss how best to manage them.
- Have a conversation with your line manager, this will be a chance to identify your work priorities and raise any concerns or questions that you have. Things don’t always come out right first time, so if you have something important you want to talk about, try practicing the conversation with a friend, colleague or family member. This will give you the best chance of getting your thoughts across.
- You could also use the Workplace Wellbeing Wheel to give you the opportunity to reflect on various aspects of work and evaluate what is working well or maybe not so well. You then have the opportunity to consider what can be done to make a difference.
- Explore the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion resources available to support you.
- Take some time to complete a Wellbeing Action Plan, this can remind you of what you need to do to stay well at work and identify what additional support is available. It also helps us develop an awareness of our working style, stress triggers and responses, and enables us to communicate these. Wellbeing action plans are for everyone.
Live and learn
Take things one step at a time. The way we all work is likely to keep changing in the coming weeks and months so we will need to keep adjusting. Don’t expect things to return to the way they were, we may not be able to or want to go back to our old ways of working, this could give us an opportunity to do things differently, and better.
Look out for yourself, look out for others and take each day and week at a time. Everyone is finding their own path and things might not always go to plan. It is important to be kind to yourself and to be kind to others as we all find our way.
Learning improves our self-esteem, keeps us connected and involved, and helps us adapt to change and find meaning in our lives.
Learning is more than just formal education, it is about exploring new ideas, seeing opportunities, embracing new experiences and sharpening our skills. It means being curious and having an enquiring mind, in all areas of life.
Curiosity predicts your willingness to learn and continue to grow your potential. Hybrid work environments call for learning on your own. That means you need to behave more like a self-motivated student: asking why, nurturing your hungry mind, and being proactive about investing in your own expertise and knowledge.
Learning comes in all shapes and sizes and is just a click away. Here are some suggestions:
- The management curriculum offers a coherent focus in delivering on the Workforce Strategy 'to develop a talented workforce fit for the future' and is for anyone who manages people, teams or delivery, from any job family and at any level.
- The Development Toolkit is an online learning and development resource for staff with advice, guides and self-assessments on a range of topics including personal skills and wellbeing.
- Book onto some of the Wellbeing Workshops that offer a variety of interactive activities for participants to promote, reflect on and to build wellbeing and resilience.
- If you would like to try using mobile apps to support your wellbeing, join in with the Wellbeing Apps Workshops.
- Go online and check out TED for thousands of short, powerful talks delivered by world’s leading thinkers and doers. Watch one talk on a topic that interests you.
Monitor and review how you are getting on. It is important to have regular check-ins with yourself (How am I coping? Could I do more to help stay healthy and well?) and check-ins with your team and manager (How are we working? Is there anything we could do differently to work better together?). This way you can address issues as they come up and start to plan and prepare for the journey ahead together.
Building healthy habits helps with mental health and wellbeing. A habit is something that is routine to you and that you repeat, often without knowing it. Some habits are good, some are bad.
It is hard to change everything all at once; it's easier to set small goals and achieve them. You can use a simple plan to create and maintain good habits and avoid returning to older unwanted habits such as this healthy habit tool:
- Decide on a goal.
- Choose a simple action you can take every day.
- Plan when and where you will take your action: choose a time and place that you encounter every day of the week.
- Every time you encounter that time and place, take the action.
- Congratulate yourself when you find yourself doing the action.
- It gets easier with time, and within 10 weeks you should find you are doing it without even thinking.