A remote work expert offers three simple ways to navigate the transition to a hybrid form of work. Now that everyone has experience in each world, it’s time to find the sweet spot and successfully balance a combination of both.
In theory, working from home is a slam dunk. A 10-step commute? Check. Flexibility, a no-brainer wardrobe, observing neighbors’ daily routines with the precision of a life scientist? Check. But now, a year and a half into the whole spontaneous experiment, it’s time for many to face reality again: Returning to the office in a hybrid form—some days in the office and some at home.
“Millions of people are grappling with this and millions more will over the coming weeks,” said Kevin Rizer, remote work authority and author of Always Wear Pants: And 99 Other Tips for Surviving and Thriving While You Work From Home.
Use these tips to ease the transition to a hybrid work situation and make the switch between two worlds easier.
Keep a Routine
Treat your morning routine the same, regardless of whether you’re going into the office or making the 10-step commute to your home office. Get up, take a shower, get dressed, and walk the dog at a certain time. Keep those routines as you switch back and forth between the office and the home office.
“That’s really key and will help reduce some of the friction,” he said. “Because at the end of the day, you’re doing the same work, you’re just doing it in a different place.” The more you can create that structure and that sense of normalcy, the less unsettling those switches back and forth will be.
Bring the Best of Home to Work
It’s also a good idea to take some of the comforts you enjoyed while working at home to the office, like noise-canceling headphones to listen to music while crunching data, or re-creating what you did midway through the afternoon to avoid a crash, like taking a quick walk for fresh air.
“Find those things that sustained you through the pandemic while working at home, and bring those into the office,” Rizer said.
Be Your Own Advocate
Getting back into the groove and facing large groups of people again can feel like an out-of-body experience. And going back to the office has that same feeling. “We’ve all been desensitized to being around people the past year and a half,” he said. Add discussions about masks, current events, and vaccinations to the mix, and it gets a little anxiety-inducing.
“You really have to stand up for yourself and be your own best advocate,” Rizer said. “If you don’t want to have that conversation, don’t. Because we all have that one colleague in an office situation that’s a little bit too nosy,” he said. “It takes two people to have a conversation, and you are one of those people.”
Shifting to a hybrid form of work will require a balancing act. It’s also been proven that employees can get the work done and, in many cases, are more productive working remotely. “Work from home is here to stay,” Rizer said. And he predicts it will continue to be a driving force long after the pandemic is over. Remote work is a central part of a hybrid situation, so that means hybrid is likely here to stay, too.
Instead of continuing to debate whether employees should be allowed to work from home, Rizer said organizations should be looking at the situation differently. “Smart companies are asking: How can we better equip those people who want to work remotely,” he said. “And how can we reap some of the benefits of that as an organization?”