Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

7 tips to thrive in a hybrid work environment

Learn how to overcome challenges in switching gears between working in the office some days and in different environments on others

Published: Nov 14, 2022 10:23:20 AM IST
Updated: Nov 14, 2022 11:17:17 AM IST

7 tips to thrive in a hybrid work environmentWhen you’re at home working, you’re still “at work.” Fully dress for the part, especially if there’s a chance you may have to appear on camera for scheduled video conferencing calls. Image: Shutterstock

Hybrid working environments were around long before the advent of the recent pandemic. However, you may not have heard about these situations as much, because they were few and far between and weren’t referred to as such. Additionally, hybrid work environments were not considered practical or welcomed options, at least for most job roles. 

The number of employees who telecommuted — performed work via telephone from outside the office — was gradually overtaken by the increasingly commonplace home internet services in the ’90s and beyond.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many, but not all, roles that were typically accomplished in-office, quickly pivoted to work-from-home roles. Since then, many of these jobs evolved into hybrid work formats. There can be challenges to switching gears between working in the office some days and in an office environment on others.

If you’ve been granted the option of a hybrid work schedule, you’re among what some might consider to be the lucky ones. Follow these hybrid work environment best practices to thrive in your new surroundings.

1.  Keep Defined Working Hours

It can be a bit more challenging to keep regular working hours when working from home than in an office. That’s because you don’t have to leave your home “office.” As tempting as it may be, avoid checking email and team communication tools outside of work hours, whether it be on a laptop or a phone.

On the days you’re outside of the office, don’t tack your usual commute time onto your working hours. No or little commute time to the coffee shop where you like to work is one of the primo benefits of having a hybrid work schedule.

Downtime from work is important. When you’re working in the office and elsewhere, don’t forget to:

  •     Step away from your work, rest your eyes, and have a good stretch.
  •     Schedule breaks throughout the day to keep your productivity at peak.
  •     Take a lunch break.
  •     Set a daily start work and finish time. Do your best to stick to it.

2.  Communicate With Colleagues

Maybe you like the solitude that’s associated with working from home. Maybe you don’t. Either way, it’s important to stay in communication with your work colleagues as needed throughout the day.

When working outside the office, be as responsive as you are on days you’re working in it. Maybe more. It demonstrates to employers that you’re engaged and appreciative of your hybrid work status. Most importantly, it shows that you’re capable of handling a hybrid work schedule.

Also read: Has hybridity killed teamwork?

3.  Dress for Work

When you’re at home working, you’re still “at work.” Fully dress for the part, especially if there’s a chance you may have to appear on camera for scheduled video conferencing calls.

Of course, how you dress when working outside the office may depend on whether you work in a buttoned-up environment, such as in law or finance, or a more relaxed environment. It should go without mention that whatever you do, don’t don pajamas or anything that looks like them.

Meanwhile, companies that schedule casual clothing days in the office may reap rewards in higher productivity, according to Indeed. Consider dropping this suggestion to someone with some pull in your in-office setting.

4.  Have Tools That Work

When you’re working somewhere besides the office, it’s especially important to have working tools, such as dependable internet. It's also expected.

Hybrid work requires a bit more planning. For example, before you set off to work in a new coffee shop, take your laptop or cellphone in during off hours to see if the internet connection there is reliable. Don’t assume that all prospective remote work locations have internet access you’ll be allowed to connect to.

When video conferencing from home, you may be using your speaker. If that won’t work for in-office workdays, be prepared with earbuds or headphones so you’re not broadcasting to the room. They might also help you to better focus in an open office environment.

5.  Set Up Your Workspace at Home

Yes, you need an actual work space when you’re working from home. The sofa won’t do for long work hours over months or even years. Some companies require you to have a desk or similar on which to work. For your own sake (and posture), you probably should. A few companies even offer reimbursement to help you set up your home workspace with a desk and chair. Ask your company if it provides any benefits.

Good lighting, a desk and chair, and a background suitable for video calls may satisfy the minimum.

6.  Limit Your Employer-Provided Equipment to Work Use

Your employer may provide you with a laptop, mouse, keyboard, or cell phone to use at the office and in your remote location. Reserve it for work.

Your family members and roommates should never use employer-owned equipment in your off hours. Neither should you. Personal use is a big no-no, according to ZDNet, who says IT staff knows when you use it and what for.

Also read: Is remote working helping careers or hindering them?

7.  Be Curious, Empathetic, and Open to New Experiences

Organizational psychology research suggests that these three traits can help you be successful in a hybrid work environment, according to Harvard Business Review:

Curiosity suggests your desire to learn, advance your potential, and take charge of your self development.
  • Hybrid work environments require you to do some learning on your own when working outside the office aids in learning creative methods for problem solving on your own.
Empathy assists in comprehending the feelings and thoughts of others and helps you self-reflect on how your online and in-office communications with others may be perceived.
  • Practicing empathy can help you better understand and navigate others’ emotions in online interactions and in the office environment.
Openness to experiences encourages you to exceed self expectations and question assumptions. Being open to experiences also:
  •  Enables your willingness to explore new ways of conducting work and yourself.
  •  Pushes you to go outside your comfort zone, which hybrid work requires.

[This article has been reproduced with permission from Knowledge Network, the online thought leadership platform for Thunderbird School of Global Management]