Five Tips for Getting the Best Out of Hybrid Working
With many charities making a return to the office in some form this autumn, you may find yourself with another new way of working to get used to: hybrid or blended working. Spending some days each week in the office and some days working from home can give more flexibility and freedom about how you work. But how can you make hybrid working work for you? Here are five tips for getting the best from it.
1. Understand your own needs
You need to be clear what your charity expects of you when it comes to hybrid working, but it’s also important to understand your own needs and strengths and weaknesses.
Are you easily distracted when working from home and prefer working in the office? Ask if you can go in more often. If you find you can only do ‘deep’ work when you’re at home, then plan your week around that. Or if you’re more productive with the background noise you get from working in an office, then try replicating this at home with a noise generator like Calm Office.
If you understand your own needs and the ideal conditions to produce your best work, then you can really use hybrid working to your advantage.
2. Try to keep to the same routine
Do you jump out of bed ten minutes before you start work when you work from home? If so, now could be a good time to stop! As far as you can, try to keep a consistent routine to allow you to be more productive and help you adapt to your new work situation.
Try to wake up and go to bed at the same time on days that you’re in the office and days when you’re working from home. This will help you get into good habits and cause you less stress when you need to be awake two hours earlier than you did the day before! On days you don’t need to commute you can use the extra time for exercise, hobbies or relaxation.
If you’re in the office the next day then you could use your evening ‘commute’ time to prepare. Pack up your laptop, make your lunch and plan your day, so you’re as ready to go as possible in the morning.
3. Improve your home workspace
If you haven’t already, then now is the time to establish a proper workspace at home. We’re no longer working at home in temporary crisis-mode—this is the new normal—so, if you can avoid it, it isn’t ideal to be working from your bed!
Consistency helps our brains to focus, so make things as easy as possible by replicating your office set-up in any way that you can. For example, if you have a list of contact numbers stuck to your desk at work, do the same at home.
Reduce stress by developing a system to make sure everything is in the place you need it to be. If you’re carrying a laptop between work and home then have a dedicated bag to pack everything into when you log off each night. Consider getting duplicates of things like laptop chargers to limit what you have to carry around (or could accidentally leave in the wrong place!). And it goes without saying to be as paperless as possible.
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4. Plan your time
When you spend different days of the week in different locations it can be even more important to plan your time effectively.
Do you prefer to have meetings in person in the office, or video calls from home? While this may not be fully in your control, it can help to state your preferences. You may find that, at the very least, meetings involving creative ideas or any kind of brainstorming are better done in the office.
Some charities will have a ‘virtual first’ meeting strategy, meaning if one person in the meeting is working remotely then everyone should be on a video call. This can be tricky in a noisy, open-plan office, so think about how to make it more manageable. Perhaps you need to get some headphones, or move to a quieter space to take the call.
If you have more meetings when you’re in the office and you’re also spending time catching up with colleagues, then you may not get as many tasks ticked off your to-do list. This is still very valuable and productive time, but it means you need to have realistic expectations about what you can achieve on your office days and plan your week accordingly.
And don’t forget that you may need to go into the office on different days some weeks, so don’t be too rigid in your schedule. Flexibility works both ways!
5. Look after your wellbeing and stay connected
It’s been discussed so much since the start of the pandemic, but don’t forget to continue to look after yourself and prioritise your wellbeing as you navigate hybrid working. Being back in the office, even only some of the time, is a big change to your routine and so is bound to feel tiring to start with. Don’t feel you need to work longer hours from home than you do in the office and make sure you fully switch-off and recharge when you’re not working.
It’s also important for your wellbeing to build relationships at work. If your charity has a policy of hotdesking and you don’t have a dedicated desk in the office, then try to sit with different people on different days, so you can get to know more of your colleagues in real life.
It makes sense to catch up with people face-to-face, so book in lunches, coffees and one-to-ones when you’re in the office, but don’t forget to keep in touch on days you’re at home as well. Use team chat to stay connected so you can really feel the benefit of the relationships you’ve built.
Hybrid working is a brilliant opportunity to improve your work life balance and take the best bits from both working from home and working with others in the office. Follow the tips above and you can truly make sure you have the best of both worlds.