Making the Most of Hybrid Working Situations
You’ve probably noticed - hybrid working is here to stay.
For some, the return to in person working, training, etc. is something we’re really enjoying! We delight in the company of others, and those long months working alone in our basements was a bummer and a half. We’re thrilled about the collaboration opportunities and the chance for hallway conversations again! We’re so glad to get back to lunches with colleagues, whiteboard sessions where we build on each other’s great ideas, and the chance to connect as humans with others outside our immediate family.
For others, the luxury of uninterrupted focused work, the shortened commute (from the sleeping space to the working space at home), and the convenience of being able to do a greater variety of things with our breaks (a quick lunch with the spouse, walk the dog, throw in a load of laundry) was a joy that we’re going to miss. We’re not so sure about the stress of the cross-town drive, more time away from home, and the constant barrage of chatter at work. We’re not relishing the close contact with others, and it turns out, we prefer our bunny slippers to those less-comfy work shoes.
And a whole lot of us go back and forth with a love-hate relationship to work-from-home and work-at-work.
Many employers have picked up on the value of tapping into both, offering hybrid working situations that allow for the best of both worlds. A couple of days at the office, a couple of days at home. For someone who really dreads the thought of going back to the office, knowing there are a couple of days at home gives them something to look forward to. For someone who really dreads working from home, having a couple of days at the office gives them something to look forward to.
As we continue to offer ways to make better workdays wherever we can, here are some tips for making the most of hybrid working situations.
1 - Ask and acknowledge (don’t judge).
With so many of us working hybrid situations right now, if you’re setting up time to connect with someone, have the grace to ask them what they prefer. Rather than assuming they will want the same thing you want, take a moment to ask if they prefer in person or virtual, and then honor that preference and don’t judge their decision. We don’t know what’s going on in someone else’s head, and judging them for whether they prefer to be in the room or in a Zoom is counterproductive to good relationship building.
2 - Reduce travel time.
As you’re planning in person events, take an extra beat to schedule things that are close together for adjacent time periods, and make just one trip instead of two. With the price of gas these days and the known impact of driving on the environment, reducing your extra trips could save you time and hassle as well as take a little stress off your wallet - plus it’s better for the environment!
3 - Schedule focused work when you can focus.
We’ve mostly discovered that if you don’t want workplace interruptions while you’re doing focused work, then you should do that focused work at home (which is mostly free of workplace interruptions). Most school-aged kids are back in school, and day cares are open across the country, so we’re no longer attempting that impossible task of parenting and working at the same time, so maybe it’s quiet at your home office. On the flip side, however, if you’re one of those who is easily distracted by your home environment, then schedule your focused work when you’re at the office. Whichever one is better for you, schedule it, block the time on your calendar, and honor it.
4 - Use together-time well to build relationships.
Hallway conversations, casual “drop by” moments at someone else’s desk, face-to-face meetings, friendly lunches - these are all great ways to build relationships with colleagues, team members, peers, leaders, and business partners. And we learned a lot these past two years about how to build relationships across the miles - taking time at the front or back end of a virtual call for casual conversation, remembering and honoring someone else’s special day, praising accomplishments, asking about that recent trip they took or that recent challenge their kid took on - these don’t require us to be in the same place for them to be meaningful! Not everyone loves the same kind of collaboration, so taking time to figure out what the other person likes will go a long way to letting the other person know you care about their preferences! What’s most important is that we’re intentional about building the relationship.
5 - Plan ahead.
So this one’s not much of a surprise given my previous tips. Spontaneity is great, and it has its time and place, but to make a hybrid work schedule work, we’re going to have to get better at planning ahead. Scheduling dental and optometric appointments for ourselves and those in our care, planning for the errands we need to run before or after work, carving off time for focused work, setting up times to collaborate and build relationships with others - these are going to require intentional, active, advanced planning. For example, if you and I are both working hybrid schedules, and we need to connect about a topic, we need time to check whether in person or virtual is best for what we’re trying to do, and we need time to make sure we’re both able to accommodate that connection at the same time with the same level of focus. I’m guessing we’ll adapt and find our groove pretty quickly, but with a hybrid work environment, we’re going to have to be more careful about looking at our calendars to schedule future activities.
How about you? How do you make hybrid working situations a success? Let us know in the comments or on social!