According to a to a YouGov poll, around 68% of British employees had never worked from home prior to 2020, but with the advent of COVID-19, working from our kitchen tables and spare rooms became the new normal.
Now as many employees consider a more flexible way of working, we asked Dr Melanie James, Counselling Psychologist at Roodlane Medical about hybrid working and how to manage the changes it will involve, whilst looking out for your wellbeing.

What is hybrid working?

Hybrid working is the notion of spending part of your working week in the office, and part working from home. It will mean being able to switch between meetings in person and virtually, to completing group work sitting close together in an office versus being away from the team at home.

A different skillset will be required to adapt to different modes of working after only doing one or the other for such a long period of time. One of the skills that employees will need to develop is their cognitive flexibility.

What is cognitive flexibility?

If you’re cognitively flexible, it means you will be energised by change and  able to quickly adapt. You’ll embrace learning new skills and be happy testing them, and be able to consider multiple concepts at once. In 2020, the World Economic Forum named cognitive flexibility as one of the top 10 skills which are deemed desirable in the workplace, and as we juggle different working environments, it’s a skill that will become even more valuable.

Cognitive flexibility allows you to:

  • More easily adapt to change
  • Step outside your preference to see another’s perspective
  • Transition from one task to another
  • Problem-solve in an efficient, flexible manner
  • Think before you act
  • Adapt to a fast-paced, changing environment

6 ways to be cognitively flexible

1. Plan - what do you need to consider practically when working at home versus working in the office? Will you need to start earlier or later due to factors such as childcare, will you want to start later to avoid the busy commuting times? Having oversight of the adaptations that you will need to make will mean that you will find it easier to accommodate mentally

2. Step out of your comfort zone – take manageable risks, think outside of the box during meetings (both in-person and virtual meetings) and don’t be afraid to put ideas forward.

3. Make time to learn new things – are there new skills that you could develop at work, courses you could undertake or training you could attend?

4. Be open to other’s opinions – don't just surround yourself with people who think exactly the same as you and have similar ideas to you, instead explore different perspectives.

5. Set realistic targets – whether you’re at home or in the office, set aside some time at the beginning of every day, to check what is expected of you and whether this is realistic.

6. Have a cognitive flexibility role model – it might be beneficial to identify someone at work who you believe possesses cognitive flexibility and look at how they deal with change and how they have adapted to hybrid working. Try to mirror their methods when you next work with them.

By becoming more cognitively flexible, it means adapting to the changes and disruption that hybrid working may cause will be much easier.

If you’re feeling anxious about your return to the office and would like to receive help and support from one of our counselling psychologists, get in touch.
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