Is hybrid working affecting your mental health?

The pandemic saw many people being asked to work from home as a necessity, for extended periods of time. In 2022, people have now returned to office work en masse, but for many, with more flexibility in how they work. Hybrid working offers employees the opportunity to split their time between being in the office and working remotely. The ratio of this split will vary, with some people being in the office three days a week, some two, while others are only present in person as little as once a month. 

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There is a huge shift towards flexible working and many people state it as the number one thing they are looking for when applying for new jobs. But for some, the reality of their time being split between two very different environments might not be as ideal as they originally thought. 


Hybrid working pros and cons

If you love hybrid working, you may be noticing:

  • Greater flexibility could mean you’ve struck a better work-life balance. You now have more time to spend with friends and family instead of commuting, which is a saving in your pocket too. 
  • You could be saving money on childcare and feeling grateful to be able to spend more time with your children.
  • Being able to manage your own time in a working day can increase autonomy. Perhaps you are finding you feel more in control in your career and that motivates you to engage with work each day.
  • You love the variety in the new model of working and the change-up makes your working week more interesting.
  • People who enjoy working from home describe being able to be close to pets, exercising during downtime, walks in nature during breaks and making their own lunches as benefits of working from home days.

If you are struggling with hybrid working, you could be experiencing some of the following:

  • Wondering if this is it? Dissatisfaction day to day and questioning your purpose.
  • Inability to maintain structure in your day – you might find you procrastinate or lack motivation. Or at the other end of the spectrum, you could have poor boundaries around working hours which can lead to overworking and making little time for yourself.
  • Lack of intimacy and relational interactions – you might be missing social opportunities or finding it hard to build relationships with people at work.
  • Feeling like a bot and not a person – for people who feel particularly isolated working from home, they may experience brief periods of derealisation. This can be experienced as distortions in the perception of time, such as recent events feeling like distant past. Distortions of distance and the size and shape of objects too. Reality can feel blurry or foggy. Anxiety is thought to be the primary cause behind this.
  • Feeling in limbo – you might find you are struggling to adjust to the different requirements of you between working at home and then office days. You could feel spread a bit thin or feel very exposed when in the office.
  • Anxiety – you could be experiencing looping thoughts, feelings of uncertainty and struggling with confidence in meetings. You might be worried about your performance and what others think of you.
  • Loneliness and feelings of disconnection.

A word on loneliness

As a therapist, I work with Millennials and adult Gen Zs. In the therapy room and beyond, mental health professionals like myself are witnessing more and more people of these generations struggling with loneliness.

The reasons behind loneliness are vast and often hard to pinpoint. They can be circumstantial, like being the new guy at work, or creep up on you over time when you gradually notice friends at different life stages from you. It could be break up loneliness, grief loneliness or lost time loneliness. The truth is we can also have loads of connection, be surrounded by people constantly, and still feel the bitter sting of loneliness.

We live in an age of constant digital connectedness – where we can witness others ‘lives’ or more truthfully, their highlight reel, at any time of the day. Opinions are divided on how helpful this is to us; social media connects us, but it is also likely to be adding to society’s problems of isolation, comparison, anxiety and depression.

The pandemic has also seen the closure or change in dynamic of many third spaces. Places we used to meet, gather and connect have either closed, moved online or the set-up within them is different. For example, pubs are now much more focused on food, which means people tend to arrive with those they already know to eat, resulting in fewer opportunities to getting chatting with strangers at the bar. 

In terms of loneliness and the hybrid model, research gathered at the end of 2021 found that over two-thirds of workers aged 18-34 (67%) say since working from home more, they’ve found it harder to make friends and maintain relationships with colleagues. Almost three quarters (71%) feel their work colleagues are more distant, and 54% even say that prolonged remote working has caused them to drift apart from workmates. The same study showed that 70% of younger generations feared that they will miss out on socialising opportunities when working from home at an increased frequency.

Platforms like Zoom and Teams help us to connect at work but what can be missing in the video medium is intimacy; the feelings of being known deeper than surface level and understood. 


Is hybrid working getting you down? What can you do? 

1. Talk to your manager and give feedback on your experiences to your company

Your experiences matter. Try your best to avoid comparison to what others are saying, speak up if something isn’t working for you. Ask about mentorship within your organisation. Having a mentor you can talk to and learn from who isn’t your manager can be great additional professional support.

2. Recognise what is particularly hard for you about hybrid working

What is within your control to change? If for example you are missing socialising with work colleagues, could you suggest a monthly social event on an office day?

3. Consider whether the job is part of the problem

Many of us have revaluated our purpose and priorities during the pandemic. Ask yourself if your current role still aligns with yours.

4. Do the things that articles tell you to do when working from home to keep well

For example, keep a routine, get outside, make the effort to connect with others and set (and keep!) boundaries around your working hours and breaks. 

5. Talk to a counsellor - professional support helps 

There may be more going on, and hybrid working could be exacerbating existing issues. You might find you feel stuck, have relationship patterns you want to break or need a space to process some of your life experiences.

Relationships are important for our mental health and many people need and want a therapeutic relationship to enrich their lives. Speaking to someone outside of your existing circle can be a liberating experience, providing you with a space to heal and better understand yourself at a deeper level. 

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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London NW6 & W9
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Written by Billie Dunlevy, Counselling - Online and In person sessions
London NW6 & W9

I'm a London based qualified Integrative Counsellor currently working both in person and online with clients across the UK. and EU. I can help you to reach a deeper understanding of your issues allowing you to make changes and move forward. My approach is direct and supportive. I’m here to gently challenge and guide you to realisations and clarity.

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