Hybrid work: 4 ways to manage work/life balance

Struggling with time management in today's hybrid workplace? These expert tips will help you stay happy, healthy, and productive
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Returning to the office can be a jarring experience after years of working at home. When my company, Alphawave Semi, began its transition to a hybrid model, I had to re-incorporate a long commute and break the work-from-home routine I had become accustomed to, balancing work and life as a full-time CTO, professor, husband, and father.

However, by structuring each day and optimizing work based on the changing environment, I found that I can create a healthy work/life balance and experience the joy of meeting with my colleagues and students in person again.

Read on for four hybrid work strategies that can help you maintain a healthy work/life balance:

1. Prioritize meetings on in-office days

Videoconferencing has come a long way since the pandemic’s start and will continue to be a fixture at work and events worldwide. A core part of my work in high-speed connectivity solutions is reducing data center latency, which helps create a more seamless experience while meeting online. But in-person meetings are still irreplaceable as opportunities to reconnect with colleagues and bond with your team.

[ Related read: 10 pieces of advice for hybrid work to take into 2023. ]

These meetings are especially crucial if you hold a leadership position. Mentorship roles exist across all levels of an organization, but in general, the more senior you are, the more mentees you have. A large part of a company’s success depends on the growth of its employees, so I feel a strong sense of responsibility not just to show up but be fully present and attentive to my colleagues in the office. This mindset helps shift the perception of the office as a needless burden into a vital opportunity to strengthen your team.

2. Get through quick work during down periods

The key to being productive and maximizing your time and energy is to adjust your work based on the changing nature of hybrid work. I have a 90-minute commute on the train, for example, which I use to go through my email inbox and prioritize my day. This enables me to hit the ground running once I arrive and prepare for the next day on the way home.

While that approach may not be an option for everyone, identifying and using the downtimes in your day to review your email and check off other small tasks can help maximize your energy for your personal time.

3. Be proactive and utilize technology to improve interactions

Nothing is more time-wasting than those first few minutes of a meeting spent setting up technology and ensuring everything works, especially in calls with multiple participants. You can prevent this by working closely with your IT team to get high-performing, user-friendly tech for the office.

Allocating at least five to ten minutes to go over conferencing equipment can save hours over the course of a month. Finding a simple and consistent solution respects everyone’s time and is especially important as teams switch between home and office setups.

4. Create room for deep work

Finding long quiet periods for deep work can be difficult. One way is to prioritize meetings for in-person days and leave more uninterrupted time at home for work that requires more focus.

Another strategy is to block your calendar regularly, letting your immediate team know that you will be heads-down on a project and asking them only to reach out if something is urgent. Implementing this tactic will help you produce higher-quality work in a shorter time while taking advantage of benefits from both environments.

Returning to the office can be daunting, and at first glance, it may seem like a time and energy drain. But with these strategies, embracing a hybrid environment can bring more purpose, engagement, and enrichment to your work/life balance.

[ Want more advice on leading hybrid work? Read What is a hybrid work model? and Hybrid work model: 5 advantages. ]

Tony Chan Carusone is the CTO of Alphawave Semi. Tony has been a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto since 2001. He has over 100 publications, including 8 award-winning best papers, focused on integrated circuits for digital communication.