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How to Create a More Human Workplace in a Remote and Hybrid World

Anne Balistreri
min read

Every week we see more and more headlines about the challenges of shifting to remote work, the impact that it has on employees and the impact that it has on retention.

A recent Deloitte study on employee wellness in the workplace found that 68% of employees and 81% of the C-suite says that improving their well-being is more important to them than advancing their career right now.

So, how do we change the remote and hybrid workplace in a positive way? How can we make sure we adapt well and how to take care of our mental health so we’re not sacrificing it at the expense of the work that we’re doing?

In our recent event, Transforming How We Work, Tech Leaders Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post and Founder and CEO of Thrive and Joe Thomas, Co-founder and CEO of Loom discussed the impact of employee burnout and how leaders can drive positive changes from the top down. 

Breaking Employee Burnout

For Arianna Huffington, she’s been familiar with burnout for years. “I was personally diagnosed with burnout in 2007 when I collapsed, but it’s existed for decades. The silver lining of the pandemic is that now it's front and center,” says Huffington. “It's not just front and center for the HR department, but for the C-suite too. We've finally recognized that employee wellbeing and mental health are fundamentally connected to business metrics attrition, retention, productivity, and health care costs. So the reason why I'm optimistic is because we’re finally acknowledging a problem.

For some people, working until two or three in the morning was a badge of honor and a characteristic of someone working hard. But more and more workers are realizing that it’s not actually worth the expense of all these other things in their lives. 

Huffington says there’s been a shift. “The shift is actually based on a scientific foundation, which is when we take time to recharge, to refuel, to renew ourselves, we are more effective at work.”

Joe Thomas of Loom is on a mission to empower everyone to communicate effectively, regardless of where they're located. But when he’s not leading the charge at Loom, he’s a father to a brand new baby at home. “With paternity leave, I was very nervous about taking extended time off and ultimately, I came back feeling like I had recharged the tank in a way that I hadn't since the very beginning of Loom. I've been a significantly better CEO because of it.”

It’s a great example of leading from the top and giving your employees permission to follow. As Huffington says, “We’re still in the middle of a cultural transition. So a lot of people feel they need cultural permission to take care of themselves.”

Watch the full event here for more insights about transforming how we work.

Upskilling Humanity in the Workplace 

Huffington knows a thing or two about mental health in the workplace. Thrive is a behavioral change platform and they’re making strides in humanizing the workplace. They’ve created 60-second interventions called Thrive Resets. Based on neuroscience, it takes 60 seconds to course-correct from stress. Thrive Resets help break the cycle of cumulative stress with themes including breathing, stretching, gratitude, mindfulness, nature and can be customized to the individual. They can be played before, during and after your meeting.

“We play Resets at the beginning of meetings to build social capital”, says Huffington. “It gives us a glimpse into a colleague’s life, one that we lose when we’re not physically together and asking each other more intimate questions about our lives.”

Slack CEO Stuart Butterfield recently said that the road to understanding post-pandemic work is long, and  “we have 10 percent of the tools we need.”

Huffington believes that we’re not just lacking 90% of the technology, but that we only have about 10% of the humanity needed. “Not everything will be solved by technology, we need to reconnect with a different part of ourselves, where we can find our creativity, empathy, peace, strength and resilience. If we don’t do that, the future will be very difficult. We’re living in uncertain times and resilience is more important than ever. It’s a human quality and human upskilling needs to be part of the future.”

Thomas believes that in order to bring more humanity into the workplace we need to be much more intentional. “Creating unique shared experiences can accelerate building relationships when you’re primarily distributed. Even if you only get together once every 6 months as a team and once a year as a company, the value of that is so strong.”

In a digital world, asynchronous video is another powerful way to bring people together. “It starts at the very beginning of the employee lifecycle”, says Thomas. “Instead of sending an email intro of a new employee on Day 1, the new hire can record a video of themselves. By watching a video of the new hire walking through their interests and what they genuinely care about with human passion is super powerful.” 

Also ask your employees what matters most to them and how you can support them as their manager. As Thomas said, “Humanity doesn’t change overnight, but we can start by enabling individuals to work in the way that is best for them. Work is not where you are, it’s what you do.”

Final Thoughts

Companies are still trying to figure out how to do remote work best. As their strategizing what their future workplace will look like, humanizing the employee experience must be a part of it. 

Welcome is employee event software that supports the entire employee lifecycle, including employee events. From remote employee onboarding to all-hands meetings, use Welcome to collect employee feedback, check for understanding, and foster relationships in your remote workplace.

Start building a better employee experience for your distributed team today. Contact us below for a demo or to find out more! 

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