Hybrid, Remote, or In-Person: Insights From Young Professionals

A remote worker on a video call. May 21, 2024 By: Luke R. Waldron

Today’s complicated workplace arrangements can be stressful for leadership and staff alike. Young professionals are advocating for inclusive practices that could benefit everyone’s well-being.

As Mental Health Awareness Month unfolds in May, it’s an opportune time to turn our focus toward the mental well-being of our workplace. As young professionals entrenched in the association work environment, we are acutely attuned to the challenges that surround mental health. Recent insights derived from a survey encompassing individuals aged 22 to 28 show compelling statistics: 51% sought assistance for mental health concerns within the past year, with 38% expressing beliefs that their workplace adversely impacted their mental well-being. These findings underscore the profound influence our work environment holds over our mental health, whether it be for better or worse.

A Delicate Balance

The modern work landscape resembles a tightrope walk, with its mix of hybrid, remote, and mandatory in-person arrangements presenting precarious challenges. Like a tightrope walker, employees and employers must carefully navigate the uncertainties inherent in these structures, unsure of their next move. While young professionals are drawn to the flexibility and independence offered by hybrid and remote work, they often face obstacles when company policies clash with their preferences. These rigid directives, aimed at streamlining operations and boosting productivity, can lead to decreased job satisfaction and work-life balance, potentially prompting resignations and fostering discontent, which ultimately affects workplace morale and productivity.

Understanding the Why Behind WFH

An employee’s preference for hybrid or remote work isn’t a manifestation of laziness; it’s often a response to the desire to mitigate the stress imposed by mandatory in-person environments and to attain greater control over work-life duties. Recent reporting by CNBC indicates that full-time office workers spend approximately $1,020 monthly on workplace-related expenses whereas hybrid workers incur an average of $408, illustrating the financial strain associated with in-person work. This is particularly pertinent for young professionals, but who wouldn’t appreciate saving on dry cleaning bills while working from home in your favorite pair of sweatpants next to your furry friend? Outside of the financial impact, there are other benefits of remote and hybrid work arrangements, especially for employee well-being. These setups can offer reduced stress and a more conducive work environment, particularly for those juggling caregiving roles, coping with physical health limitations, or seeking to enhance productivity within familiar surroundings. Additionally, there is a mental health toll that comes from commuting into the office. Eliminating the daily commute saves time and energy, making it easier for employees to escape the traffic and avoid the stress-induced meltdowns.

Remote Work Is Inclusive

Embracing remote work can yield positive impacts on mental health, particularly for individuals grappling with anxiety disorders or discomfort with face-to-face interactions, which can potentially trigger panic attacks. Working outside of an office setting can provide a respite from the pressures and social anxieties that accompany in-person communication, enabling individuals who may struggle with social or generalized anxiety to focus more comfortably on their tasks. Remote and hybrid work arrangements also facilitate easier access to mental health resources, enabling staff to better attend appointments with therapists or other providers without the added stress of commuting during traditional work hours, thereby promoting proactive mental health care.

Not a One Size Fits All Solution

To cultivate a workplace culture that prioritizes employee well-being, associations must be receptive to meeting their staff where they are and comprehending the holistic impact of various work arrangements, offering flexible options, such as hybrid models, alternative scheduling, or remote work allowances. By recognizing and respecting individual preferences and challenges and devising creative solutions to create a symbiotic environment for both in-office and remote or hybrid workers, employers can foster a more inclusive and supportive work environment conducive to positive mental health, overall well-being, and workplace satisfaction. As young professionals, it’s imperative that we continue advocating for inclusive workplace practices, ensuring that all individuals feel valued, supported, and empowered in their career pursuits. Let’s keep shouting from the rooftops for workplaces that have our backs, lift us up, and improve our mental health!

Luke R. Waldron

Luke R. Waldron has eight years of expertise in the association field, specializing in marketing and communications within major mental health and addiction associations. He currently serving as Director of Marketing and Communications at the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA.