Before the global pandemic remote work was the exception as opposed to the rule. COVID forced companies to pivot and quickly find solutions for remote work that allowed their employees and clients to feel safe while also still supporting the interests of the business. Now, a few years out from that initial mega-shift, some companies are moving into hybrid work solutions, albeit this change is being met with mixed reviews.
Some employees have found their own rhythm with remote work and cannot imagine going back to working in-office even if only for a few days each week, while others truly welcome the opportunity to get back to in person collaboration and shared learnings. Whichever side of the coin you land on, unless you make the choice to leave your current position, if hybrid work is being forced on you then you should make the best of it and find ways to have the new normal be an enjoyable transition.
Remember What Works
When your role was affected by the transition to remote work it was probably a struggle to adjust, but now that you have, there is no reason that you cannot keep some of those same practices when going hybrid. Software programs are a great example of this.
Just because you are now in office doesn’t mean you need to go back to pre-remote methods of project management, communication, and data tracking and analytics. In fact, if the tech of your company has been moving forward, then you should definitely keep up that momentum.
Fleet management companies lean heavily on real-time telematics for the company fleet to not only track the vehicles in their fleet, but to also improve communications with customers and help with team productivity, and cost management. With the rise of telecommunications networks that can transfer data, managers, drivers, and owners can easily go between in-office workdays and remote workdays without compromising the integrity of the overall purpose and functionality of the business.
Get Out of Your House
Perhaps part of the reason that a hybrid schedule seems daunting to you is that you are no longer used to having to get up, get ready, and get out of your house in order to do your job. If this is the case, consider using some of your work from home days as practice for the days you will have to go into the office.
You can find public places to work from that are near your home to keep this suggestion approachable. Putting a buffer between these two types of workdays not only helps to condition your mind to reduce the amount of dread you associate with this change, but it also conditions your routine to get back to a place where you need to set an alarm, wear appropriate clothing, and be in shared spaces.
The best part about this suggestion is that you have total control over where you will go. Instead of thinking that you only have two options, the office, or your home, you have blown the possibilities wide open to include basically anywhere with Wi-Fi.
Keep Things Consistent
For a lot of people, working from home has totally negated any need for a specific schedule. This fact has both pros and cons to be aware of. In some cases, bouncing back and forth between the days where you need to be in the office and days you get to stay home can put you in a constant state of chaos and make you feel like you are never actually settled into a routine. Find pieces of the day that have nothing to do with where you are working and keep those elements consistent regardless of where you are working.
One example would be your lunch. Assuming you are packing a lunch for your office days, but when you are at home, just figuring out what to eat whenever hunger strikes. Challenge yourself to pack a lunch for every day of the week no matter what. This will help create a habit and also benefit your time management strategies.
Your daily workout is another area that you can create cohesion. If you are someone who prioritizes daily movement, try to handle that task at the same time each day. This might mean setting an alarm and doing it every morning, or perhaps you plan to use exercise as a way to wind down at the end of the day. Either way, having a set time of the day that you keep specifically for exercise will ensure not only that you actually do it, but also that it feels like less of a chore because it is something you anticipated.
Use Your PTO
Many have noticed a decrease in the number of days that they take off work once they began working from home. This is great for employers and speaks to the loyalty and work ethic of the employees, however, everyone needs and deserves some time away from the grind.
Take a look at your PTO allowance and give yourself permission to use those days. Many got used to being able to stack personal things with professional things while they work from home, but that is not true time off. Additionally, it has become increasingly common for people to bring work on vacation with them since they can work from anywhere but is that really what a vacation should be about?
Our minds and bodies need time away from work to reset and come back ready to motivate and move forward. So, get your calendar out, schedule some days off, and leave the laptop at home.
Get a Good Night’s Rest
Sleep hygiene is something that is not talked about enough, especially in corporate settings. There is so much more that goes into an overall healthy sleep routine than simply getting eight hours a night, although that is a crucial part. Try to get into the habit of finding what works for you, and doing it every single night, no matter what the next day holds. Some valuable elements to consider for the best possible nighttime routine are:
- Unplugging from all electronics one hour before bed
- Ensuring the lighting in your room is dark enough to keep you asleep throughout the night
- Investing in sheets, pillows, and a mattress that best suit your preferences and the physical needs of your body
- Restricting caffeine and sugar after a certain time of day
Each individual needs to do a trial run with these suggestions and others of the like to find a personalized system that works for them. Some have reported other things like a warm bath or shower, reading, or guided sleep meditations as being great ways to transition from day to night in a calm and healthy manner.
Reunite With Co-workers
Even for those who absolutely love it, working from home can be isolating. Think back to what your daily work experience was like in terms of spending time with coworkers when you were reporting to the office full time and take those beloved elements with you into a hybrid situation. Did you and a team member always do Taco Tuesday for lunch? Bring it back.
Are you and your manager invested in the same Netflix show? Seek them out and discuss over coffee mid-morning. While you may not think that these are things that you actually miss or that their absence has affected your workday negatively, reigniting these routines will bring some excitement into your office days and give you back a little bit of the freedom you may feel you are losing by not being able to work from home every day.
Something else you may not even realize, is that potentially you have co-workers that you have never even worked with in person before. Of course, you have had communications and many companies heavily prioritize virtual team building exercises, but all of that cannot fully supplement meeting someone in person. If this is the case, specifically seek these individuals out and formally introduce yourself. Getting to know the people that you work with is a huge part of overall job satisfaction and even for Zoom aficionados, there is something to be said for shaking a hand and communicating in person.
Maintain Your Boundaries
Just because you are heading back to the office that most certainly does not mean that you have to lose all the boundaries that you have established as a remote worker. You are still responsible for your deliverables, meetings, and other various functions of your role and if that means creating in-person boundaries same as you did remotely, you should feel empowered to do so.
Additionally, try not to allow yourself to go backwards. If you were someone who pre-COVID was always the first to get to work and the last to leave and all you gained from it was a serious case of burnout, don’t slip back into that routine. You, and your boss, have likely established over the past few years that your quality of work and dedication to the job has not been negatively affected by only working within certain hours so there is truly no need to revert back to overextending yourself at the cost of your mental health or personal time.
Keep Your Expectations Flexible
Remember when COVID first hit and in one swoop everything about your job looked and felt totally different without warning? Well situations like that are incredibly hard to adjust to because you have no way to properly prepare your own personal expectations for something you could have never anticipated. With the switch to hybrid however, you get the luxury of some advanced notice, and therefore can get your mind right before you put the plan into action.
Trial and error are going to be your best friend as you navigate this changeover. It is important to allow yourself some flexibility and be kind to yourself when something you thought would work out, doesn’t. All the aforementioned examples are simply suggestions that can, and should be, tweaked to make sense for you personally. Another crucial aspect to consider is that, like you, all your co-workers and bosses have gotten used to the autonomy of remote work, so they are all adjusting same as you. Give yourself, and those around you some grace while you all figure out how to get back to the harmony you once shared in this new and different climate.
Share your methods and routines with those around you and encourage them to do the same. There is certainly knowledge to be shared and gained regarding tips and tricks to make the most of hybrid working.
Overall, the main theme is to maintain a positive attitude, even if this is not your preference and you cannot control the situation you can control how you respond to it. Having a narrative in your head that speaks negatively about going back to the office will no doubt manifest a negative experience.
If covid taught professionals everywhere one thing, it is that toxicity in the workplace is incredibly contagious and can really derail the goals of you as an individual and the team that you are a part of. Being a catalyst to prevent and combat that toxicity is a way to enhance your job satisfaction and working environment.
Make Your Office More Comfortable
If you are used to working every day at home in a robe and slippers, you probably are not going to be able to mimic that level of comfort with hybrid work, however there are ways to bridge the gap between the comforts of home and the professionalism of the office. Did you spend money on an incredibly comfortable ergonomic chair for your home office? Tell your employer about it. You might be surprised to learn that many business owners are very willing to make the office a place that their employees actually want to be, and feel comfortable in.
Include personal touches at work that you have become accustomed to from home. If you diffuse oils each day in your home office and have come to love that ritual, place a little of those same oils on your wrist before you head to the office and inhale a few deeps breaths of that scent throughout the day.
The old-faithful’s such as personal pictures, a plant on your desk, your favorite coffee mug or water cup, and office supplies you cannot live without are all still worth their weight in terms of making your in-office workspace a happy and productive spot to do business.