As we ease into the post-pandemic era, many of us will return to a hybrid workplace where we'll be expected to spend a few days in the office and a few days working from home. Unlike full-time remote work, though, hybrid work is likely to become the norm, according to PwC. Sixty-eight percent of executives surveyed by the consultancy believe employees should be in the office at least three days a week, but 69% are accepting of some level of remote work.
Just as making the transition to remote work was a challenge, we can expect a bit of a bumpy road before we all adjust to hybrid work. How can you smooth the transition and get the most out of your hybrid workplace? Start by cultivating these five habits.
#1: Mirror Your Home and Office Set-Ups
For optimal productivity, your home and business workspaces should be mirror images. Is your desk at home set up ergonomically? Do you need dual monitors? Would a printer come in handy? The more these spaces look like each other, the less transition time you will need when you switch environments.
This is particularly true for technology and access to communications and business applications. Nothing is more frustrating than settling into your workday at home only to find you can't tap into the company phone directory or collaborate securely with colleagues. The undesirable result of this approach is a growing list of tasks that can only be completed whenever you're in the company office.
Cloud-based communication technology integrates with critical business applications like your ERP and CRM. With the right remote working technology, you'll always be able to reach the people, data, and documents you need - no matter where you're working for the day.
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#2: Minimize Household Distractions
Most of us share our homes with some combination of roommates, family members, and pets. For everyone's sanity, it's important to maintain healthy boundaries. If space allows, create a dedicated office area. Keep regular hours and let other household members know you can't be disturbed during those times.
In addition, avoid areas where items such as bills, dishes, and laundry are in view. Although taking the occasional break to fold clean towels is a welcome refresher, you don't want household chores to take over your day.
Noise is another common distractor. Whether it's a neighbor renovating their kitchen or your dog barking at the Amazon carrier, home just sounds different from the office. If you're distracted, consider noise-cancelling headphones which are valuable tools for both home and business offices.
#3: Get Used to Virtually Popping In
When working hybrid, it can be tempting to save less enjoyable tasks and conversations for the days in the office. Maybe you feel reluctant to interrupt your coworkers with a video chat. Maybe you simply prefer to conduct meetings in-person. Whatever your reasons, saving up those interactions for the office can quickly lead to unproductive and unmanageable days.
Get used to virtually "popping in" instead. Previously, many of us regularly poked our heads over the cubicle wall to get a co-worker's input. You can make this a virtual habit. It's easy to share your screen, web chat, or video call with a single click. It may feel different at first, but we are creatures of adaptation. The more you use technology, the more natural it becomes.
#4 Make it Emotionally Sustainable
COVID-19 took its toll on everyone's mental health. A Harvard Graduate School of Education study shows 43% of young adults reported increases in loneliness since the outbreak of the pandemic. The hybrid model can help alleviate this struggle.
For most of us throughout the past year, our home has served as an all-in-one office/gym/school/theater/24-hour diner. Now that you're working hybrid, make it a priority to connect with people during days in the office. Eat with a coworker or go on a walk together during your lunch break. The mind needs a balance of routine and novelty; change things up when you can.
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#5: Keep the Lines of Communication Open with Your Manager
The manager-employee relationship is reciprocal, so it's important to remember that people on each end have different concerns and stressors. And both will be adjusting to post-pandemic changes.
The most effective workers and managers attribute clear communication to their success. Frequent manager communication and feedback motivates employees to be more engaged, Gallup reports. Still, employees can be the ones to set the tone. Rather than wait for your manager to reach out to you, make it a habit to ask questions and seek help―especially on days when you're not in the office together.
Also, keep in mind that you and your manager may have different notions about the ideal number of days spent in-office versus working from home. Take it upon yourself to discuss your preferences so this never becomes a point of contention.The transition to a hybrid workplace will be a journey―not a trip around town. Finding the work routine that fits you―and your manager―will require some experimentation. You won't know at first which habit will stick, but that's ok. Just take the time to figure out how you work best.