I used to be one of those “I love working remote” types. I could go for a run in the middle of the day. I could wear what I wanted without worrying about how my outward appearance affected my professional clout. I could cook my own food. But recently I swapped my full-time remote schedule for a hybrid one. Like my co-workers, I’m trying to find a new rhythm coming into the office a few times a week. While it’s great having more flexibility, adjusting to hybrid work is a process. In this post, I’ll share what I wish I knew when I began working flexibly. I’ll also share some ideas on how workplace managers can help their employees ease into a hybrid work model.
Balance social time with getting work done
In the workplace, you can have serendipitous conversations with coworkers any time of day. You can indulge in a stocked kitchen full of chocolate-covered almonds and cold brew coffee every hour. You can play with the dogs running around in the middle of the day. One of the great parts of being on-site is interacting with people and enjoying these extra benefits. That said, coming back to the workplace can be distracting. It’s important to balance these workplace perks with actual work. To do this, encourage employees to develop a time management method to keep their workday structured. For example, this can be a simple trick like setting a timer for whatever interval makes the most sense and “ready, set, go!” (And if they’re a nerd like me, you can tell them to check out the Timeular Tracker to learn how and where they spend their time each day.)
Schedule time to make connections
On the flip side, being back in the workplace means making real in-person connections! As much as we want to believe Zoom can mimic the in-person experience, it can’t. And often, we aren’t even turning on our cameras, which would facilitate a more “in person” feel. At the end of the day, nothing can replace face-to-face interaction. Culture is the holistic and somewhat mysterious force that guides actions and interactions in the workplace. What makes office life enriching is that it fosters company culture. That’s why it’s important to inspire connections between employees. At Envoy, our workplace manager plans regular in-person gatherings where we can grab a drink and a bite to eat while getting to know each other better. People also often bring in shareable breakfast and snacks on a regular basis—like delicious donuts and pastries. These actions go a long way to create those “watercooler” moments that we missed out on while working fully remote.
Take time to rest and recharge
69% of employees are experiencing burnout symptoms while working from home. On the flip side, those of us who have gone back to working on-site in some capacity may feel drained after a long day of socializing. If your organization is hybrid, allow yourself to take full advantage of the flexibility and recharge when you’re not in the office. You can also encourage your employees to take time to recharge while they’re in the workplace. This starts with including workspaces where people can do “heads-down” solo work. This will look different from company to company. Ask your employees what types of spaces they’d like to see in your workplace. At Envoy, we have all kinds of lounge spaces and quiet areas for people to sneak off if they need time to recharge. Making sure people feel balanced will help them feel more energized when they’re in the workplace and keep burnout at bay. —I love to think there’s always a silver lining in every situation. If this pandemic has brought beauty in any sense, it’s that employees and employers became empowered to redefine the workplace. We’re working together to structure a new normal—one where we can find the perfect balance of productivity, culture, and happiness.