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The hidden repercussions of hybrid working models

By Shandel McAuliffe | |6 minute read
The hidden repercussions of hybrid working models

Despite the popularity and flexibility of hybrid working, this positive psychology coach identified its potential masked effects. Hybrid working, the combination of both home and on-site environments, has increasingly become the new standard for countless employees. The founder of Positive Wellbeing Education recently sat down with The HR Leader to evaluate the underlying benefits and consequences of working from home.

Michelle Falzon is a positive psychology coach with 16 years’ experience in the education sector. She recommended that caution should be exercised when considering hybrid work.

“I definitely recognise the positive attributes that come from hybrid working. You wear two hats, so to speak, in the place of being at home but also being productive.”


She continued: “However, it’s detrimental to the mental health and wellbeing of every individual. We may not necessarily recognise the ramifications of working in this hybrid mode until later on down the track.”

The value of connecting and socialising with work colleagues cannot be underestimated, argued Ms Falzon.

“It is in our intrinsic nature as human beings to work together to create positive connections, to be able to make eye contact with each other. There’s a very big difference between making eye contact over Zoom or a Google Meet as opposed to coming face-to-face with somebody.”

Ms Falzon additionally highlighted generational differences in the attitudes surrounding hybrid working. Where more mature employees might not experience the ramifications, “it might be our children who are watching us in this space and thinking, ‘this is the new norm’.”

New research demonstrates that a majority of younger workers aged 18 to 24 prefer hybrid working and are hesitant to return back to the office.

“It doesn’t have to be the new norm,” Ms Falzon suggested. “The normal, pre-COVID-19, was bringing people together to have collegiality.”

Whether it be staffroom conversations or midday lunches, the coach argued that it is these types of social interactions which “support healthy wellbeing and mental health.”

She added: “We seem to be working from our own space, our own private four walls, but we don’t really know what’s going on behind them. Now, home is work and work is home and there’s no division. Everything’s just morphed together, so people aren’t getting respite from work.”

The ‘heliotropic effect‘ is a concept Ms Falzon put forward, defined as “being drawn to life which gives positive energy.”

She applied the idea to current work preferences: “If a workplace wants to bring back more people into the office, it needs to be inviting. We’re social beings, we love things that make us feel good, we’re drawn to that. Bring that positive energy back into [workplaces].”

The transcript of this podcast episode, when quoted above, was slightly edited for publishing purposes. The full conversation with Michelle Falzon is below.

Note from the editor: if you’re currently experiencing any of the issues we’ve discussed in this podcast and would like to reach out for help, you may wish to contact Lifeline: www.lifeline.org.au




Hybrid working

In a hybrid work environment, individuals are allowed to work from a different location occasionally but are still required to come into the office at least once a week. With the phrase "hybrid workplace," which denotes an office that may accommodate interactions between in-person and remote workers, "hybrid work" can also refer to a physical location.

Shandel McAuliffe

Shandel McAuliffe

Shandel has recently returned to Australia after working in the UK for eight years. Shandel's experience in the UK included over three years at the CIPD in their marketing, marcomms and events teams, followed by two plus years with The Adecco Group UK&I in marketing, PR, internal comms and project management. Cementing Shandel's experience in the HR industry, she was the head of content for Cezanne HR, a full-lifecycle HR software solution, for the two years prior to her return to Australia.

Shandel has previous experience as a copy writer, proofreader and copy editor, and a keen interest in HR, leadership and psychology. She's excited to be at the helm of HR Leader as its editor, bringing new and innovative ideas to the publication's audience, drawing on her time overseas and learning from experts closer to home in Australia.

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