Working from home can be difficult for a lot of people, even if it’s just for a few days per week. It makes it harder to separate our careers from the rest of our lives, leading to stress, anxiety, and burnout. Rather than going into the office for the day and returning home in the evening, everything is now in one place. You may be getting emails and Slack notifications at all hours, long after you’ve clocked out. Your meetings may be at inconvenient times due to everyone’s newfound flexibility, making it harder for you to plan your day. How can you adjust to today’s developing hybrid work culture?
Set Expectations and Stay Connected
Before you start working from home, set some expectations with your managers. These new guidelines should dictate all areas of hybrid work, from how to communicate with your team members, to how to organize your documents and resources. You’ll likely have to set new standards for meetings and deadlines, too. For example, your daily discussions might turn into weekly meetings or vice versa to accommodate everyone’s schedules. Lastly, you and your managers should account for who is working where and when. If you’re working closely with certain people, it’s best to try and coordinate your days in the office together.
Don’t forget to keep in touch with your coworkers, too. For example, shared calendars and project management software can make your respective workflows much easier to track. Keep everyone up-to-date on what you’re doing and how you’re progressing, especially if you need help. Lastly, you should also find some time to connect with your colleagues outside of work. If you’re spending most of your days working from home, the lack of social interaction can be detrimental to your mental health. Whether you’re planning a team dinner or a virtual game night, don’t underestimate the importance of getting together.
Keep Your Workspace Consistent and Invest In Your Set-Up
One of the best ways to adjust to hybrid work is to keep your separate workspaces consistent. This helps you move between locations with ease. For example, is your computer monitor in the center of your desk or off to the side? Do you keep your pens and sticky notes in your desk drawer or next to your keyboard? Try to mirror your work office and your home office to the best of your ability. The familiarity helps you focus more on getting your work done and less on trying to find your stapler. Similarly, you should also consider what kind of snacks and drinks you like to have while you work. Having them available at both locations will keep you from getting “hangry”.
You should also make sure that your home office is properly set up for hybrid work. No matter where you are, your work environment should be comfortable, quiet, and productive. For example, you may want to invest in an ergonomic chair or a standing desk. You might want to look into noise-canceling headphones or purchase a few decorative items that will liven up your space. Lastly, you should consider doubling up on certain accessories, such as your laptop charger or your wireless mouse. That way, you no longer have to carry them back and forth between your home and the office. It also reduces the risk of you losing or forgetting something during your commute.
Block Off Your Time and Maintain Your Sleep Schedule
One of the biggest challenges of hybrid work is learning how to differentiate between your work life and home life. For example, can you do a load of laundry between virtual meetings? Will you be able to finish your tasks before you have to start preparing dinner? Dedicate some time to blocking off your schedule on a day-to-day basis. This might mean setting aside thirty minutes every morning to answer emails and messages, or a two-hour period for researching your next big project. You should also determine what’s easier to do at home and what’s easier to do in the office. This helps you prioritize your responsibilities and stay on track.
You may also be tempted to sleep in or even stay up if you’re working from home. After all, you don’t have to go anywhere, and there’s less urgency to start your workday. However, an irregular sleep schedule can make hybrid work more difficult than it needs to be. Try to sleep and wake up at the same time no matter where you’re working. If you’re at home, spend your “commute” time eating a healthy breakfast or doing a little exercise. Take a moment to review your tasks or set some intentions before you start. A consistent schedule helps you maintain a sense of routine, especially in times of uncertainty.
Define Your Hours and Mute Your Notifications
Hybrid work makes it easier than ever for people to contact you outside of your work hours. Oftentimes, this can make you feel like you’re never truly away from the office, resulting in stress and frustration. To avoid this, have an open and honest discussion with your team about your availability. For example, you may want to set a “last call” for responding to emails or have a procedure in place for work-related emergencies. Make sure that everyone else feels comfortable setting their own boundaries so that no one feels pressured to be available on a 24/7 basis.
Lastly, consider how often you pick up your phone or open your inbox to check your messages. Again, this can easily cause your work life to bleed into your home life. Once you have agreed-upon procedures for how to communicate and respond to emergencies, turn off your notifications. Most tools offer a setting in which you can mute your notifications during specific periods of time. For example, if you finish work at 5 PM but are open to answering emails until 7 PM, tell your email program not to notify you between 7 PM and 6 AM. This will give you the peace of mind you need to focus on what really matters.