Adjusting to hybrid working in 2022

2022 has not started the way many of us had hoped. With Omicron surging through Australia, Covid-19 cases are at the highest they have ever been. Many workplaces are beginning to open back up after the festive season, and the hybrid model is likely a trend that workplaces will continue to adopt in the future. These flexible working arrangements have begun to reshape many workplaces, balancing remote and in-office work.

Each of us has different feelings and concerns regarding returning to the office. Some may prefer to continue working from home, whilst others may be eagerly ready to get back to the pre-pandemic sense of normality in the office.

While many Australians have started the year off working remotely again, 2022 will likely bring a hybrid “balance” of remote and in-office work. Here are some helpful tips to navigate this hybrid work environment to optimise our time effectively and get the most out of each day.

Set up a schedule

Setting up a schedule can help us adjust to hybrid work by creating a strategic plan of action that leverages our ability to work most efficiently when we are both in the office and working from home. It’s essential to consider both environment and tasks.

Here are some questions to get started:

  • “What environment better facilitates the completion of my work?”
  • “What tasks can be accomplished from home?”
  • “What tasks better suit the office environment?”
  • “What tasks do I prefer doing in the office?”
  • “When does my team / colleagues / manager need me?”
  • “How can I maximise productivity in the hybrid setting?”
  • “Does my work require collaboration?”

Asking these questions can help us build a schedule that coordinates and aligns team members or certain tasks with office days. This can maximise our time in the office, productivity, and the resources available.

Create a plan when working from home

Having a daily routine, and establishing structure when working remotely will facilitate a successful day ahead. If we have one goal for 2022 it should be setting up a dedicated workspace at home (if possible with household living arrangements)! This should be away from the bedroom or other communal household areas. Research suggests that working from a bedroom can have a negative impact on mental health and productivity. This is because our brain creates associations between different experiences. A bedroom is normally a place of rest and relaxation, so when we work from this environment, we can become easily distracted trying to stay awake and alert. Conversely, our bodies may, as a result, re-associate the bedroom with work, which could then make it difficult to switch off at night. A dedicated workspace can eliminate distractions at home by separating work from home time, allowing us to be more focused and productive.

Establish supports with peers / leaders

Establishing support with our peers and leaders is essential for hybrid work. For some people,  working remotely may be isolating and create a sense of disconnection. Therefore, by establishing clear communication measures, employees will feel supported as they navigate the hybrid work environment. Scheduling regular check-ins with our colleagues and leaders enables us to discuss and rethink ways to communicate while being remote. This promotes our wellbeing and ensures we are equipped with the necessary support networks when working in this environment.

Schedule regular breaks

Scheduling regular breaks in a hybrid work environment is crucial for our productivity and wellbeing. Breaks can help us to accomplish our tasks through deactivating and reactivating our goals. When working for prolonged periods of time, our cognitive control systems fail to maintain a state of focused attention on a particular task. Research suggests that taking regular breaks can heighten our attention, so when we return to our work, we have a better sense of direction and clarity which can help us to think and work more productively. Additionally, taking breaks allows us to recover from the negative effects of work stress through psychological detachment and relaxation. A break helps us return to our pre-stressor level and replenish our mental energy to maintain our performance throughout the day.

Navigating the hybrid work environment can be challenging. If you are struggling, it’s important to reach out for support from your leaders, a professional, or your Employee Assistance Program.