Dana Brownlee, Senior Contributor
Feb. 14, 2022
Nearly two years into a global pandemic, organizations are increasingly turning to hybrid working options. While this compromise approach blends the benefits of the traditional face to face environment with the convenience of working from home, working in a hybrid environment certainly poses unique challenges as well. Indeed, working effectively in a hybrid model requires an intentional approach.
While working from home offers enviable convenience and flexibility, home environments are often distraction landmines, and it can be easy to not just waste precious time but also feel a sense of whiplash with the constant movement back and forth between office environments.
Author of LinkedIn Learning courses “ Enhance Productivity in a Hybrid Work Environment ” and “ Be an Effective Hybrid or Virtual Employee ,” Paula Rizzo insists that optimizing productivity as a hybrid worker won’t happen by accident, but it certainly can happen if you avoid these common pitfalls.
1. Maintaining inconsistent workspaces
Constantly adjusting to two completely different workspaces requires additional energy so set yourself up for success by mimicking a similar setup in both locations. “When going between offices it’s easy to forget something and it will throw off your whole day,” insists Rizzo. “It’s important to think through what you’ll need to do your job well before you start working remotely or go into a hybrid setup. You should mirror your workspaces with the same tools and equipment.” Rizzo suggests making a list of everything you need including your computer, camera, folders, etc. and striving to have two of everything in each space. “If you can’t do that then make a checklist of what you’ll need to take with you when you travel between spaces,” she explains.
2. Not tailoring work activities to each space
One of the benefits of having two workspaces is that you can now tailor sections of work to the environment that best supports it. Do you notice that at home it’s much easier to read or write long reports without the distraction of the office? Or maybe you’ve noticed that for tasks requiring collaboration or back and forth exchange, it’s much easier to complete those in the office where you can grab a few people and work through a problem on the whiteboard together? “Identify which tasks you like to work on in each environment and then assign those tasks to yourself on the days you’ll be there,” suggests Rizzo. “If having group meetings is easier when you’re in the office make sure to schedule those meetings in batches when you’re there. Perhaps keeping the solitary work you do for when you’re working from home will work better.”
3. Keeping the same mindset
Rizzo suggests that a perhaps the hardest change for hybrid workers to make is shifting their mindset. “Things will be different than you remember them being and that’s OK,” she insists. “Having an upbeat attitude will help and getting help and support from your family and team will too. Since you’ll be spending some time at home and some time in the office it’s important to communicate what you’ll need in each space.” Indeed, working from home part-time on an ongoing basis when many of those around you have returned to a more traditional office environment is a real shift, and doing so successfully will require you to fully embrace this new way of working mentally as much as practically. It won’t be perfect. There will be advantages and disadvantages, and you may indeed feel differently within the team (particularly if others are in the office full time). FOMO (fear of missing out) is absolutely real so it’s important to not bury your head in the sand—pretending that nothing has really changed—and instead, fully acknowledge that you’re venturing into a different work approach that may bring new challenges.
5. Relying on the same organizational tools and tactics
Without question, working between two different locations requires a higher level of coordination and organization. In one of her courses, Rizzo mentions the idea of having a “command center” to help keep you organized no matter where you are. “For me that’s a central notebook that I always have with me no matter where I go,” she explains. “It has all my to-dos and notes.” Most professionals tend to rely on some sort of task management tool to help manage tasks or communicate quickly with team members. “No matter if you use Asana, Mondays or Trello, having a central location will keep you on track since it syncs no matter where you are or whether you’re using a desktop or an app,” she says. Indeed, virtual or hybrid working can create communication challenges for the entire team so it’s critically important to embrace the tools that can help you continue to collaborate efficiently.
While the Covid-19 pandemic forced most professionals to work virtually as a response to a public health crisis, many of those same professionals are now contemplating hybrid working as their longer-term reality. This phase two (if you will) will indeed feel different and will require intentional preparation and focus. Indeed, those who are able to successfully shift into long-term hybrid work may find amazing successes both at work and home. For many the pandemic forced a reevaluation of what is most important in life. Many argue that the “great resignation” has been in part a result of that fundamental reevaluation process. Most professionals love working but don’t necessarily love some of the less desirable elements that often accompany a trek into a traditional office five days a week. For them, this shift towards long-term hybrid work could be a game changer in the best way.
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