The world we live and work in is changing, and so are the relationships we have with other people.  As many of us move towards a new hybrid way of working, developing new and maintaining existing relationships may become more difficult.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), around a quarter of the UK’s workforce (23%) will be working remotely and 41% will be working in a hybrid way in 2022. (1)

We are tribal!

Fundamentally humans are a tribal species.  We seek out the company of others and aim to build strong relationships.  Many of us are at our best when we’re part of a group and can often struggle when we feel alone. Working in a hybrid way reduces the opportunities to physically connect with other people in your ‘tribe’ which is why it’s so important to make the most of the time that we do spend ‘face-to-face’.

Tap into your ‘happy hormones’

Being part of a group makes us feel safe, secure, and valued.  When we experience this, we produce our ‘happy hormones’ – serotonin, dopamine and most notably oxytocin (the ’love drug’) – which help to regulate stress, calm the nervous system, encourage positive behaviour and even help support the immune system.

By doing simple things such as spending quality time with other people, paying a compliment or doing unexpected acts of kindness for someone else, we can help stimulate the production of these hormones and, in doing so, improve our own health and wellbeing.

Leading a ‘Hybrid Tribe’

Research by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) indicates that two thirds of managers (65%) have not yet received training on how to manage remote working staff.(2) We all have our preferred way of working and communicating but for some it’s hard to maintain the same level of connection when we aren’t face-to-face.  It can also be easy to focus on those who you are spending more ‘face-to-face’ time with, which can lead to ’unconscious relationship bias’, a situation where you inadvertently favour one person over another. It’s not intended or deliberate, but it can happen without you even realising.

If you are managing hybrid and remote teams, think about ways of making the most of any face-to-face time.  Monitor who you are seeing and think about setting up ‘agenda free’ calls and team meetings to allow the whole team to maintain and strengthen their relationships, away from work topics.

Learn to listen

Over half (55%) of our interpersonal communication is done non-verbally through body language(3) – something that doesn’t lend itself well to virtual calls and meetings. Video and phone calls make it much harder to feel connected with someone else which can lead to them or us feeling like an outsider looking in.

To feel properly connected we need to believe we are being listened to, that we are being understood and that our point of view is acknowledged – the key elements of empathy.

This blog is taken from Sovereign Health Care’s latest employee health and wellbeing topic, ‘relationships – how to be real in a virtual world’. The topic is available, free of charge, to all Sovereign Health Care’s corporate customers and their employees via the Sovereign Resource Hub. This online information centre is designed to support businesses’ health and wellbeing programmes by focusing on a new topic each quarter. It’s there to help organisations raise awareness of and improve employee health and wellbeing. It’s FREE to use and provides activities and materials to help employees make simple lifestyle changes that could lead to big improvements at home and at work.

Sovereign Health Care’s straightforward health and wellbeing solutions are quick and easy to implement in your business. Let us help you get started. Talk to us today! Find out more here


Sources: (1) Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) 2021, (2) Chartered Management Institute (CMI) 2021, (3)

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