In the past, going to work meant heading to a traditional office. Today, it might mean settling in at your kitchen table, traveling to a customer site, setting up at a hotel, or connecting at any number of other places. As the pandemic has proven, work can happen just about anywhere – but staying engaged and productive in all environments isn’t always easy.
Here are five things you can do to help you stay focused and on-task, wherever you happen to be.
1. Adjust your expectations
Work today is not like it was yesterday. And it won’t be tomorrow, either. Prepare for a new normal where nothing will really be normal. Due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic, your office may be open, but the cafeteria where you once gathered with colleagues may not. Ditto for the gym where you’d catch a mid-day workout.
Virtual meetings will be different too. Not everyone will be working remotely – or in the office for that matter – so leaders should ensure they are creating an inclusive virtual environment with equal airtime for all, regardless of where they sit.
2. Know thyself
The pandemic has taught us that work can be done in multiple settings. Figure out where and how you work best and be honest with yourself – and your manager – about it. If you need quiet time to focus on individual activities, you may choose to work from home. On the other hand, your quiet time may be in the office, away from roommates, kids, and dogs. If you’re engaged in a project that involves coordination across functions and teams, you might want to head to the office. Consider the impact on your team and customers in making your decision. At the end of the day, where you work should be about where you are best able to deliver on your priorities.
3. Plan ahead for office time
You’ve made the commute to the office, but when you arrive, none of the colleagues you expected to see are there. And the dedicated cube you used to have? It’s been replaced by shared space. Like any trip, traveling to the office now requires planning. Coordinate with your colleagues before you go to the office to ensure you maximize your time and are able to accomplish your goals.
4. Be respectful of colleagues
After nearly two years of virtual meetings and limited interactions, many people are eager for in-person contact. But not everyone. Some people will use the office as an escape from the distractions of working at home and want to simply focus and get work done. Give them their space.
On the flip side, lots of people work better from home and don’t want to deal with the commute and the time it takes from their day. Don’t judge them for not being physically in the office and find ways to include them in activities that allow them to contribute equally, even if they are working remotely.
5. Give hybrid work some time
The changes in how work is done that have happened over the last two years are nothing short of epic. Give yourself time to adapt. Processes and systems that used to work may no longer work – and vice versa. Be willing to learn as you go and adjust as needed. And don’t be afraid to ask your peers and manager for help when you need it.
Hybrid is the future of work. With the right mindset and a little planning, you can make it succeed for you today.
[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]
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