When we started working from home at the start of COVID, many of us felt like it was a temporary adjustment that would be reversed when everything “returned to normal.” However, if the past 18 months have taught us anything, it’s that working from home is here to stay, at least in some form. We’ve enjoyed the additional family time, a ditched morning commute, and increased productivity too much to turn back now.
However, as in-person work becomes possible once again, a lot of us are remembering the benefits that come with being in the office. We’ve all struggled to replicate the social aspect, team collaboration time, and face-to-face interaction with co-workers and managers that we’d always taken for granted.
The question that begs asking is: Is it possible to have the best of both worlds?
Yes. Yes it is.
That’s why an increasing number of businesses are going hybrid. Meaning employees can work from home on some days and from the office on others. Adjusting to a hybrid office system takes a little extra leg-work to find the right balance between working from home and working in the office.
Let’s take a look at some questions to ask yourself in order to master a hybrid work calendar.
Six Questions to Ask Yourself When Mastering a Hybrid Work Schedule
1. What requirements does your employer have in place?
So your employer announced a shift to hybrid work, but what does that mean? Truth is, hybrid means something different to everyone. Some businesses have strict requirements for hours or days that employees must work from the office, while others leave that choice entirely up to their employees.
The first step to mastering your hybrid work calendar is knowing what your employer requires so you can plan accordingly. Once you know that, you can start to determine:
- How many / which days you will work from home during the week?
- Will those days stay the same or mix it up week by week?
- Does your office require you to schedule your in-office hours ahead of time? If so, how far in advance?
- Are there certain set hours you are required to work?
2. How will you maximize productivity?
Inevitably there are certain tasks that you will do more efficiently from home and others you prefer doing from the office. In order to maximize your daily productivity, you’ll need to identify those tasks and schedule where you work accordingly.
For many, working from home is preferred for work that requires the most focus, such as writing, filling out reports, or any other tasks that require sustained attention to detail. In-office work, on the other hand, is often better for in-person meetings, collaborative work, or tasks where communication with co-workers is paramount.
Of course, those are just examples. Everyone works differently, only you will truly know how best to maximize productivity.
3. What should you do to set yourself up for future opportunities?
Nobody wants to be in the same position at the same company for an entire career. New opportunities and new roles are what keep many of us motivated from day to day.
Even if you think you do all your best work from home, dread returning to a morning commute, or are just opposed to real pants, recognize that decreased face time with managers and co-workers might affect future opportunities.
This is especially true if your direct managers or senior-level management are working from the office on a regular basis. Promotions and role changes are impacted by a number of things, and that includes having a confidence that comes from seeing and getting to know someone in person.
4. What schedule is ideal for your work/life balance?
The obvious benefit of hybrid work is extra time spent at home. Capitalize on that by injecting flexibility into your work-from-home schedule to make time for dance recitals, sporting events, or other chances to step away from work for a short time.
That said, be wary of keeping things too flexible on your work-from-home days. Your brain needs some level of consistency in order to be locked in and focused when you sit down to work. Things like keeping the same morning routine, starting work at the same time every day, and taking regular breaks protect you from burnout and mental exhaustion.
Another thing the past year taught us is how much we need social interaction. So before you plan your schedule, ask yourself how much social interaction do you need to stay sane and be sure to accommodate that in your calendar.
5. How will you avoid communication lapses?
Video calls, Slack messages, emails, or other forms of asynchronous communication have changed the way we work. However, even with so many methods of communication at our fingertips, working from home still opens the door for plenty of opportunities for communication lapses.
To minimize the risks of mis- or under-communication, make sure you are meeting with your team in-person often enough to ask questions and avoid confusion.
6. What equipment do you need to do your best work?
For a hybrid calendar to actually work, you need to be productive working in two (or more) different locations. That means your equipment needs to be consistently good at home and in the office.
Some companies are giving employees a stipend to buy home office equipment as they move to remote or hybrid work. If that’s your employer, great! If not, invest in the necessities like reliable WiFi, a comfortable office chair, and anything else you need to be productive for an entire day away from the office.
Once you’ve asked yourself all the above questions, it’s time to map out your work calendar. Understanding company requirements, keeping a favorable work/life balance, and understanding where and when you are most productive will make you a master of hybrid work.