Recently, I traveled to North Carolina for our annual family vacation. On Sunday, we attended First Baptist Church of Bryson City. The guest Pastor brought the house down on that rainy day with a message on love and acceptance. He described the ways in which we used to value connection with one another through meal time and went on to emphasize how important social connection is for our mental health. If you feel connected and cared for, he argued, then love has the ability to heal.
That’s wonderful to hear about in Church, but how does that translate to the mental health of an organization or, more specifically, remote workers? As a person who has experienced the struggle with mental health, I can testify that just today as I sit here from the comfort of my home writing this Blog I’ve had some anxious thoughts and feelings come up. The people that I love are gone for the day and while the silence is useful for my concentration, it can also be deafening and lonely. You see, I need that connection for inspiration and motivation.
There are many benefits to hybrid work. Forbes said it best “Hybrid creates flexibility in our lives and workplace, which contributes to employee satisfaction and productivity. Making it easier for them to balance their work and personal lives can result in less stress and burnout. Hybrid work allows people to work in a comfortable and familiar environment, which can promote feelings of safety and well-being.”
However, what goes up must come down, and there are pitfalls to this setup as well. When I began working from home in September, it was an adjustment. Coming from a traditional 9-5 work schedule, the idea of flexibility challenged my thinking. For a few days, I longed to catch up my with my co-workers and to hear the latest news when I walked through the door. You see, I wasn’t missing the stress or rigidity of the job, I was missing the connection with others. It is good for the body, mind and spirit.
Thank goodness it didn’t take long for me to shift my perspective and see the way that my Horizon Point Team members valued connection as much as I did. According to Gallup analysis, “it finds that engagement has 3.8x as much influence on employee stress as work location. How people feel about their job has a lot more to do with their relationship with their team and manager than being remote or being on-site.”
How can your organization create space for mental health or connection in the workday or week while working remotely? Horizon Point uses various touchpoints throughout our weeks and months. Mary Ila and I meet once a week either in person, by phone or virtually to talk through what she needs me to handle. We also have a Monthly Mingle to brainstorm new ideas, discuss plans for the future and to share a meal. Quarterly Planning is a longer meeting where we, for lack of a better term, plan for the quarter. There are also One-on-Ones during the month when we meet with Mary Ila to have meaningful conversation about what’s happening and what we would like to see happening in our careers.
What I initially thought could be a challenge has proved to be a learning opportunity. The traditional way of working doesn’t have to be my future, and I can still connect with my co-workers in various ways and environments. There are new tools that I have in my toolkit to connect with others, and when I’m feeling a little lonely, there are certainly other ways to find inspiration and engagement rather than in an office setting.
At Horizon Point, we value work-life integration, and it turns out that my stress level is much lower. Even on days like today when I have some anxiety, a nice walk or phone call with a co-worker or friend decreases that feeling. I am much more comfortable than I would be experiencing those feelings in an office setting. Therefore, my overall mental health is much more in balance.
Does your organization support your mental health? At Horizon Point, I feel connected and cared for, which translates to love and healing.
To read more about connection and working remotely, browse through these topics at The Point Blog: