Mental Health at Work: What You Need to Know

The world of work is going through a mental health challenge.

The rise of remote working — with all of its great benefits – has meant employees are more socially isolated than they ever have been.

Our work schedules are now flexible and adaptable, and that’s great — but not when it comes at the expense of connection and community.

As the founder of R;pple, I’ve seen first hand how deeply work can impact our mental health.

So here’s some key information on how mental health is affected by the workplace, and what you need to know to get the right help and support.

Work-related stress and loneliness is on the rise

The numbers paint a clear picture.

71% of adults in the US report at least one symptom of stress, while the number of people experiencing loneliness has doubled since 2019.

And it’s a vicious cycle — the more stress we experience at work, the more it affects our ability to get any work done at all. The CDC revealed that mental health conditions reduce cognitive performance 35% of the time.

What’s perhaps more worrying is that only 57% of employees who report moderate depression (and 40% with severe symptoms) are actively receiving treatment to control their symptoms.

The bottom line: our mental health is inextricably linked to the workplace — and we need to act fast to provide the proper support to our teams and employees.

Hybrid systems help develop community

The dawn of remote work brought about monumental changes to how we get work done.

In most sectors, employees are now in the unique position of being able to spend a considerable amount of their time working from their home office. Often, that time is spent alone.

The flexibility of home office has come at a cost. We’re losing out on what was a crucial part of the “old” way of working: people.

Luckily, there’s another movement that is building momentum and providing a balance to how we go about our work weeks.

Hybrid work offers a structure that combines elements of remote and in-person work to ensure employees are never spending too much time in their own silos.

By encouraging in-person work as a way to reconnect with your colleagues, get social validation and feel part of a community, hybrid work presents an important step towards ensuring the workplace contributes to our mental health positively.

And yet there’s always more we can do to provide support!

R;pple – giving people the support they need

When it comes to the more severe symptoms of mental health, help becomes more of an urgent and serious matter.

Online searches for suicide methods have increased by 50% in the last 2 years, with searches for suicide support lines also up by 150% since January 2019.

To ensure more help and support is given to individuals searching for harmful content online, I set up R;pple – a digital tool that can provide immediate support and comfort to people searching for harmful content relating to the topic of suicide and self-harm.

Once they have installed R;pple, if someone searches for harmful content online, they will be:

  • Provided with guided breathing exercises.
  • Presented with reassuring messages.
  • Given immediate access to help lines and mental health services to use now and in the longer term.

With over 1.8 million downloads and over 38,000 harmful searches intercepted, R;pple’s impact extends all the way from individuals to organizations. Companies like KPMG, West Ham United FC, and the University of Portsmouth have all recognized the importance of safeguarding their communities.

By deploying R;pple as a browser extension on their company-issued devices or integrating it into their Wi-Fi networks, they’re taking proactive steps to ensure no call for help goes unanswered.

The Key Takeaway

The workplace, whether physical or virtual, plays a crucial role in our overall mental well-being.

As the lines between work and home continue to blur, especially in hybrid and remote work settings, it’s imperative that employers prioritize mental health as a key component of their organizational culture.

R;pple serves as a critical tool in this mission, enabling companies to extend a hand of support to those in need, at the moment they need it the most.

By providing an immediate response to those seeking harmful content online, we’re not just preventing potential tragedies; we’re opening doors to conversations about mental health, reducing stigma, and fostering an environment where seeking help is not only encouraged but normalized.

Alice Hendy MBE founded R;pple after losing her brother, Josh, to suicide in November 2020. R;pple is a digital tool that can provide immediate support and comfort to people searching for harmful content relating to the topic of suicide and self-harm. Alice also works as a Global Cyber Security Manager for a large consultancy firm.

When do people choose to come to the office and why?

When people choose to come into the office has fast become the hot topic of the last 18 months. During national lockdowns, the global workforce had unintentionally been handed the gift of choice enabling them to choose HOW they worked. It not only made people far more productive, but it became a key differentiator in what employees were looking for in their work, and careers.

Now that more people are returning to their office for the value of face-to-face collaboration, community, belonging, and well-being certain days have become more popular than others. An interesting insight claiming the attention of employers looking to understand employee booking habits, and how their spaces are being used.

Is Thursday the new Friday?

Bookending the working week at home is becoming a common trend amongst workers. With a quieter Monday, as well as Friday ‘many are commuting to their workplace during the “core” midweek days – Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.’ Interestingly from Kadence data, as much as Tuesdays-Thursdays are the most popular days that people decide to go into the office (see figure 1), those that do choose to come into the office are a relatively small number compared with those overall (see figure 2).

Busiest office days

Figure 1

Hybrid working

Figure 2

A recent study in the Office of National Statistics showed almost 60% of the U.K workforce claimed to have improved well-being with hybrid working. Not only this but employers saw 42.6% reduced overheads alongside a mighty 40.8% in increased productivity due to this change.

Conclusion: Working part remote, and part in the office makes things better for companies as well as their people, and to do this successfully requires a tool that makes team and individual schedules visible so you can plan to be in the right place, at the right time, and with the right people, every time!

In-person vs. Heads-down

Really, there’s no contest here. The bottom line is finding what works for you and your team. Whether coming into the office on a quieter day so you can concentrate on your work in a different environment in many ways is just as appealing as doing that from home. Finding a rhythm for in-person team collaboration, or solo work whether virtual or face-to-face, in the office or at home is the key here.


In the data above, taken from WFH Research, Nicolas Bloom, an Economics professor at Stamford University found that face-to-face collaboration was the most popular reason to head back into the office. With ‘quiet’ being the least of the drivers to go into the office, what are the benefits to working from home when you need to? 

Whilst many realize that working from home does come with its benefits, the true benefit here in adopting a flexible working policy, and allowing people to work whenever works best for them, is how it vastly improves individual productivity. (see slide 12 of Microsoft’s New Future of Work Report 2022) Although there is no right or wrong way of working, here are some quick pros and cons that might be helpful when it comes to working from home.

Pros to working from home:

  • Through having to use telecommuting tools such as Slack, Zoom, Asana, and Microsoft Teams, you’ll learn to be excellent at communication and time management in a way that wouldn’t be that necessary in an office amongst your team.  
  • Workers are typically less distracted socially, and able to concentrate on important tasks in quieter environments. The surrounding office noise, as well as the temptation to socialize (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) with your teammates, might mean you get less focused work done. 
  • You’ll save on time and money. Allowing you to spend more time with family, and saving on the cost of commuting 

Cons to working from home:

  • Workers can sometimes find it hard to stop working and make clear distinctions between work time, and family/personal time. ‘With a shift to remote work and elimination of physical boundaries knowledge workers felt a sense of being ‘always-on’. Tools that help individuals disconnect after work can reduce stress, promote employee wellbeing, and reduce liability stemming from after-hour work’ (Williams 2018)
  • Feeling disconnected from your team, and a huge helping of FOMO
  • Creating deeper connections with management, and feeling undervalued, and unseen for your work efforts

It’s clear a balance is needed, and for workers to adopt hybrid working in the true sense of the word requires tools that make it work successfully.


Help your team make the best choices

Choice and autonomy are key differentiators that separate the companies that empower their people, and the companies that are continuing to trudge on in the old ways of working. Having said that, it’s just as important to establish frameworks that help guide your people to make the best choices without being controlling. We call this ‘coordinated scheduling’. Having too much choice sounds great in theory, yet when employees that need to focus are presented with too many endless options we step right back into a bedlam of friction that takes up too much thought time, and productivity. The secret here is to identify the moments that matter to be together and present your teams with the right choices with tools that empower them to do great work.



Teams choose to come into the office for many reasons but the evidence favors in-person collaboration – being connected to your people and a clear work-life balance. A critical mass of people flooding to go to the office does encourage others to attend for fear of missing out, typically during the middle of the week, catapulting what could quite easily be the new working model for generations to come. However for most, it’s flexible working, and working in a way that works best for you that always trumps who’s planning on going into the office, whichever day of the week that may be. A solution that makes this possible, with all the added benefits in between, is the one that will come out on top.

When do your teams go into the office and why?

Return-to-Office Resistance: Navigating The New Normal

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a rare disruption across business industries. Many employers that adopted remote work models for their teams are now hoping to bring employees back into the physical workplace. There’s just one problem: Most employees want to maintain a flexible work schedule. 

Thus, companies struggle to get their team on board with a return to the office. However, as rare as the pandemic has proven to be, businesses must manage the new normal like any other significant changes. They must consider professional and personal implications to find solutions that work for their unique organizations. 

What Do the Numbers Say?       

While the numbers vary across business types and industries, it’s clear that employees wish to preserve their autonomy. And even if your company implements a hybrid work model, many of your team members feel the same way.

A recent Gallup study with more than 9,000 U.S. employees revealed that 91% of workers hope to work from home at least part of the time once the pandemic ends. About 37% said they would prefer working remotely, and 9% implied they want to return to the office full-time. Most workers (54%) reported that they wish to divide their work hours between their homes and offices. These preferences, among many other factors, have led many businesses to adopt a hybrid work model.

Why Are Employees Hesitant to Return to the Office?

No matter what industry you belong in, you likely have more than one team member who is hesitant about returning to the office, whether part-time or full-timeThe first step in adjusting to the new normal and positioning your team to thrive is understanding employees’ legitimate concerns across the country. 

Health & Safety

As soon as the pandemic emerged, employers across industries began allowing many workers to perform their jobs off-site to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Pew Research Center reports that 20% of employees worked all or part of the time remotely before the pandemic, and that number rose to 71% within months.

While most workers prefer to work from home because of its flexibility, some are afraid of contracting the virus, among other health concerns. Your organization must be transparent about your precautions to keep your team members safe and healthy.

Loss of Flexibility

Flexibility has become one of the most important qualities for employees and job seekers. We live in a day where technology makes remote work practical for many different job roles. Many employees argue that they work more productively from home than in a traditional office environment—at least for most of their work responsibilities. Moreover, there is a growing awareness of mental health and wellness, and the flexibility of a hybrid work schedule can help employees maintain a work-life balance. 

Various Emotional Challenges

In a 2022 survey conducted by Eagle Hill Consulting and IPSOS, 52% of American workers reported increased anxiety levels about returning to work in the office. There are various concerns making employees anxious about in-person work, including:

  • Inflexible work schedules
  • COVID-19 exposure
  • Daily commuting
  • Childcare responsibilities

Indeed, employers have become more conscious of health and wellness in recent years, but the pandemic‘s impact on workers’ mental health has made it even more critical to prioritize it. Though we see the light at the end of the tunnel, we can’t forget the lockdowns and stay-at-home measures many workers worldwide were subjected to.

Many workers are hesitant to return to the office because of emotional challenges and unpredictable circumstances like housing costs, childcare, and the overall state of the economy. If you want to encourage all of your team to come on board for in-person work, you must ensure they feel like they are coming back to a psychologically safe work environment. 

How Can You Overcome Return-to-Office Resistance?

So, you understand that your return-to-office resistance is not unique. Now, you must learn how to address it healthily so that your managers and employees feel comfortable with the work schedules you are implementing.

Categorize Your Employees

First, put all of your employees into categories. For instance, the resistance-to-support spectrum categorizes workers into the following groups:

  • Active resistor
  • Passive resistor
  • Neutral party
  • Passive supporter
  • Active supporter

You will probably have some employees who don’t think twice about voicing their support or disfavor at the thought of returning to the office. Still, some may remain silent, while others will not have decided yet.

Have a Conversation  

Your next step will be to meet with the active and passive resistors on your team to find out why they object to the prospect of working on-site. Unless you get down to the core interests of each individual, you can’t solve the problems in front of you. While employees sometimes resist change for legitimate reasons, they often don’t feel like the higher-ups are hearing them. You need to listen to your team’s thoughts and opinions to know where everyone stands.

Get our RTO survey toolkit to better understand how they prefer to work when they’re ready to return to the workplace.

Bring Neutral Employees Into the Discussion

You will need to facilitate conversations between those who fall into the neutral category and those who passively and actively support the move to return to on-site work. If you have neutral team members, they don’t have any concrete opinions or conflicts with the change, so allowing them to hear other employees express their support and explain the reasons can help pull them over to see things the same way.

However, it’s essential not to take a heavy-handed approach. You will want to allow your neutrals to convert organically. Let their peers present the benefits and facts while allowing the undecided team members to draw their own conclusions.

Communicate the Benefits

While having passive support for your return-to-office plan is better than passive or active resistance, you will still want to pull your passive supporters into the active category. One way to do this is to clearly state the benefits of a hybrid work model. You don’t want to come at it with a zero-sum approach, meaning one party wins and loses. Instead, use a positive-sum strategy that benefits everyone on the team.

Many passive supporters may be worried about upsetting their resisting team members if they show their support. But if you help them develop the correct language and framing, they will feel more comfortable expressing their position.

Facilitate Your Active Supporters

Your final step will be to provide a platform to your active supporters to reinforce the advantage of your return-to-office plan, which will help solidify the change. With that said, make sure they don’t use their platform to bring others down. They should not imply that the team members who are not excited about returning to the workplace are incorrect or misguided in their beliefs. Your active supporters must express the benefits of welcoming language. 

If your company is one of many experiencing return-to-office resistance, you can’t afford to ignore it. Remember the concerns that many employees across the country have about getting back to in-person work, and start finding solutions for helping your managers adjust to the new normal. Also, consider the tips above for helping your team feel confident about your hybrid work plans

Welcome Back To Work! 10 Encouraging Ideas to Bring Employees Back

Welcome back to work. A simple statement with the potential to make things better for your organization and employees. Think effective organizational communication among in-person or remote employees, improved meeting ideas, and enhanced employee well-being, among other things. So, how can you lead your employees back in 2022 successfully?

Tips To Warmly And Safely Embrace Your Employees Back To The Office

Whether you are the employer, a manager, or an employee, getting back to the office is touchy. Since every member of your organization needs time to adjust to this new change, you can make the transition smoother using these tips:

1. Clean And Prepare Your Office Building

There’s no better way to say welcome back to work than with a clean and appealing atmosphere. Cleanliness contributes to a triumphant welcome back at the office practice. Clean the working cubicles, ensure everything is organized correctly, and try and update any old working tools like worn-out chairs and desks to make your employees feel welcome.

2. Enhance Your Organizational Communication Channels

Proper communication ensures you experience a smooth transition from the onset because it keeps everyone informed. Make clear communication an essential part of your planning process by creating communication processes across all your business channels to ensure every employee receives their intended message. 

Some excellent avenues to pass information to your employees include:

  • Company announcement channels
  • Email notifications
  • Workplace app

Don’t use one channel. Instead, use every medium you have and consider integration solutions like Slack to affect your communication processes further. In a nutshell, your workers need to go through a lot of preparation before getting back to work.

For instance, notify your employees of your plans to reopen your offices beforehand to help them prepare. Parents especially need time to plan for daycare, and employees in distant remote locations might need to plan for travel back to their homes.

In your message, include the requirements your employees need to have before they are back in the office. For example, include:

  • The official reopening date
  • The introduction of flexibility within the workplace
  • The employees expected to be in the office
  • The employees allowed to work remotely
  • Remote working guidelines like the available desk booking software solution
  • The health guidelines for safety against the spread of COVID-19 variants, like the need to wear masks at all times
  • The safety health precautions like proof of vaccination for all employees coming back to work
  • New practices you plan to implement, whether to improve office efficiency or to safeguard against the spread of the virus, like testing for COVID periodically

Ensure your message is comprehensive yet easy to understand and follow. Also, include a contact your employees can use if they have any additional questions or concerns they need addressing.

3. Be Flexible

Many employees have settled into the remote working environment. The flexibility of setting individual work schedules from home has made remote workers more productive than office workers.

Therefore, going from remote working routines to a fixed working schedule is not ideal for many employees. Adopting a flexible approach to work is sure to make your employees more comfortable as they come back to the office.

Be Patient

Instead of making it mandatory for all employees to return to work, give them time and phase out their return. Besides, you still need to observe safety protocols like reducing the number of people gathering in one office room

Be Open-minded

Use this as an opportunity to navigate through transitioning your employees into the office while maintaining and preserving their safety. You can ask employees that feel more comfortable working from home to identify themselves so that you can schedule the rest for office days and desks.

Collect Feedback

Take suggestions from your employees with a survey on how you can better accommodate their preferences. 

4. Get To Know What Your Employees Want

Don’t assume your employees are mentally and emotionally prepared to be in the office. They might have concerns that never cross your mind, which you can mitigate to enhance your reopening experience further. As such, find out whether:

  • Hybrid workers prefer to be in the office on a specific day of the week
  • Your employees feel comfortable returning to the office, or if specific issues make them anxious
  • They think they can carry out their duties efficiently once they are back to work
  • They need any specific tools, technology, or equipment to make their work more productive
  • Your implemented safety guidelines and protocols make them feel safe, or if there are areas to improve on

5. Welcome Gifts For Your Employees

Personalized surprise gifts on every employee’s desk are quite the existential way of saying “welcome back to work.” For instance, a working mum might prefer a daycare money voucher while a health and fitness fanatic might prefer a well-being hamper. The more practical and personal the gift, the more your employees will feel your appreciation. Gift ideas to use are:

  • Desk or office plants
  • Nutritious snack boxes
  • Chocolate, brownies, or donut boxes
  • Health essentials like water bottles, masks, or sanitizers
  • After-work activity service vouchers
  • Self-care hampers with things like journals and nutrition tips

6. Plan For Team Building On The First Day Back

This is an excellent yet fun idea to get your employees back into the spirit of teamwork. For instance, an office scavenger hunt is the perfect team-building activity to work on problem-solving skills while working in a team. In addition, you can implement a regular “Kadence” of team-building activities into your employees’ schedule to keep encouraging them to work as a team long after their first day back to work.

7. Prepare For The First Meeting

When done correctly, meetings enhance productivity. Make your first meeting post-COVID a little better by creating a space where your team can share their voice and ideas. Include coffee, donuts, and other treats in your weekly meetings.

How To Prepare

Start simple with icebreakers, interact with your team, and then set the tone for the meeting. Ensure the meeting room is big enough to accommodate everyone while maintaining a social distance. Install technology like a microphone and a TV screen to help virtually bring remote workers into the meeting.

Encourage Engagement

Introduce your new working strategy and plan for the year’s first quarter. Make your objectives fun and tie them to a reward program to increase employee motivation. Allow creative ideas and discussions from your team members.

Give A Time Schedule

Create a timeline for your plan to ensure you meet deadlines. Use a whiteboard if you must to explain your ideas and strategies. Introduce a goal-tracking system where you track your team’s success once they achieve the goals on your board. Then introduce a reward for each win or milestone achieved for your entire team.

8. Create A Plan For Your Remote Workers

Accommodating your remote or hybrid workers in your welcome-back activities is critical to ensuring you remain inclusive. As mentioned, technology is a great way to bring your remote workers to the office regardless of their location. Therefore:

  • Include helpful technology in the office and ensure your remote workers have the right technology to communicate with your office. 
  • Use your communication channels to keep remote workers updated with daily work processes.
  • Send them their gifts to their designated locations and provide the flexibility to join your co-working spaces. 
  • Introduce social activities between remote cross-teams to keep them friendly to the working environment and increase teamwork.

As an employer, check on your remote workers more often than you do with your in-person employees. It is much harder to notice signs like burnout in remote workers. Still, you can combat these issues by regularly getting feedback through your hybrid model, personal observation, and regular talks.

9. Allow Your Workers To Engage With Each Other

Allowing your team to be more interactive means they might feel more motivated and less stressed to be back at work, thus increasing their engagement and productivity levels. This also encourages a healthy flow of teamwork and ideas. Therefore, allow on and off interactions throughout the day but clarify that they must meet deadlines.

10.  Onboarding New Hires

Certain dos and don’ts make new hires feel less anxious when they first meet their employers. So, when your new hires arrive at your office, please introduce yourself, your company, and what you do, then take them on a tour around your office building.

If you have new hires for different departments or teams, ensure you introduce them to the people in their group and then set a meeting time for a one-on-one meeting with their immediate supervisor. Once you’ve given them all your expectations and company rules, allow them to interact with other employees in the office.

The One Step You Shouldn’t Skip To Encourage Hybrid Collaboration

Here’s the simple truth. The success of your return to the office plan and the way you approach the next phase of work will determine the level of employee job satisfaction in your company. It will play a pivotal role in attracting and retaining talent in the future.

You could rally your troops back to the office in the hope of reviving collaboration and productivity but you know that’s not likely to work. Too much has changed.

Most US and UK employees anticipate easier collaboration (60%) and better productivity (52%) after returning to the office – provided it caters to their needs and creates opportunities for those watercooler chats that leave them happier and energized for an hour and more afterward. A lack of chance encounters and in-person meetings will leave your people struggling to build trust and strengthen the emotional bonds that are essential to effective collaboration and wellbeing, particularly in a hybrid workplace.

However, orchestrating these isn’t that easy when more than a third of office workers expect to choose their working hours and location. Nearly half (44%) of them struggle with poor work-life balance and feel they need to be “always on”.

Employees may quit if you can’t offer flexible working

If you don’t allow your people the flexibility of personal work routines, you might lose them – or face a rise in anxiety and depression among employees alongside the resulting fall in company productivity. Yet, with flexibility comes the challenge of creating and maintaining an inclusive culture that doesn’t risk remote employees feeling like second class citizens.

The solution? You already know it.

Establish a people-first hybrid workplace that promotes natural collaboration

What many don’t realize is – it starts with the return to the office plan. Using it merely to take care of the logistics and safety precautions of opening the office doors would be a missed opportunity. Instead, allow it to build the foundation for a hybrid workplace that:

  • Gives people ownership of their workday – think flexibility of choosing when they come in, how often, and where they sit; and a workplace app that ensures a seamless desk and room booking experience).
  • Enables personal and team cadences with a balance of synchronous and asynchronous collaboration. They will be the difference between presenteeism – being in the office as a performative measure but working less efficiently due to exhaustion, illness, etc. – and joyful productivity at work.
  • Establishes inclusive hybrid meetings as the new norm, including desk booking software that focuses on facilitating collaboration by showing your colleagues’ cadences or allowing short- and long-term group bookings.
  • Creates a test-and-optimize process for continuously improving the workplace experience without relying on countless employee surveys.

The key is in the right mix of all the essential ingredients.

To discover the exact steps to creating a hybrid workplace that attracts and keeps the best talent – download our Complete Guide to Building a Return to the Office Plan.