According to the Forrester report, 70% of companies in the US and Europe are pivoting to a hybrid work model, which is a mix of both in-office and remote work cultures. Since most employees were working remotely during the pandemic, this work model was developed to facilitate employees for an easy transition from a remote to in-office work culture.
However, most companies are planning to continue this blend of two work models, as it offers more flexibility and work-life balance to employees. So, this article lists some handy tips on how you can manage your time in an effective way and become more productive in a hybrid work model.
1. Plan Everything Beforehand
Before the onset of the week, gear up and plan everything in advance. You can discuss with your coworkers which days you will be going to the office and when you are going to work from home. Once you are certain about your in-office and remote days schedule, determine the course of action accordingly.
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For instance, you can pursue work that requires creative or logical thinking when you are working from home. At the same time, jobs that require collaboration, reviewing tangible content, project meetings, brainstorming sessions, or decision-making stand-ups can be blocked for in-office days. Moreover, if there is a collision between the timings of your teams due to hybrid working, consider finalizing a common in-office day in which everyone can be available.
Generally, daily standups or work update calls can be done via virtual meetings. But, when it comes to an in-depth review of any deliverable or making prudent decisions, where you are required to be ‘at the table’, in that case, the in-person meeting will be more apt. After all, 30 minutes of face-to-face interaction can save you from hours of email or other written communication.
2. Better Time Management with Time Blocking
You can block chunks of time on the calendar with different tasks for a systematic completion of your work. For both remote and office days, create concrete schedules mentioning tasks with start and end times to stay on top of your deliverables.
Additionally, during the remote days, you have the flexibility to complete your work at your own pace, so you can determine which hours will suit you for productive work and which hours would be a great fit for administrative tasks. For example, if you prefer working on tasks that require creative or cognitive thinking at the onset of the day, you can block such tasks in the morning time, while the monotonous tasks can be blocked after the lunch break.
Additionally, during the remote days, we tend to lose the boundary of our log-in and log-out time. With the help of a calendar, you can clearly set the hours you will be working to maintain the work-life balance.
3. Time Tracking to Track Your Productivity
Whether you work from home or the office, it is essential to keep track of how you invest your time in both scenarios. This is where a time tracking app can be of great assistance, which record employees’ working hours. This tool tracks your time usage on different tasks, activities, or meetings during work time and provides a holistic view of your productivity.
You can assess this data to understand which tasks took more time to complete and which ones less in order to outline better strategies for future projects. Moreover, you can compare time data of WFH and in-office days to evaluate how an environment affects your productivity and pace.
4. Replicating Office Environment at Home
Whether you work from home or the office, an environment has a great impact on your work efficiency. It is one of the most overlooked concepts, but it greatly helps workers to make a smooth transition between home and office.
If you have a dedicated office set up at home, you are likely to be equally productive as during your in-office. Even if you work from home, make sure to set up your desk and other essentials in an orderly manner.
For instance, if you have a monitor, mouse, or such devices, set them in an appropriate place so that you do not have to adjust your workstation every single time. Also, if you have a filing cabinet on the left side, and you keep your phone and other gadgets on the right side in your office, then mirror the same arrangement for your remote workspace also. In short, your remote workspace should match your office environment, as your mind will hardly find any dissimilarity while working from two places.
5. Centralized Place for Information Exchange
One of the biggest challenges in the hybrid model is planning impromptu or ad-hoc meetings, as some remote workers may not be able to join it right away. The unavailability of a team member can sometimes lead to ambiguous information exchange related to the project.
To avoid such scenarios, teams can leverage project management tools, which allow all documents, notes, reports, files, and other resources to be kept in a centralized location, which is accessible to everyone. Managers can encourage all the staff, whether they are working remotely or in-office, to log their individual pieces of information in that one place so that data is accessible by everyone in the team whenever needed and the time-consuming communication related to data access can be saved.
6. Prioritize Your Work
Your weekly goal should resonate with your priorities, and therefore, you should plan out your work schedule while clinging to your priorities. For example, if you have a target of interacting with 20 clients on a one-on-one basis in a week, then you should work on it as a priority when you are working from the office.
Since humor and human connections are lost in digital communication, dealing with clients face-to-face can step up the game. You can also use personal planning tools, including planners, calendars, index cards, or notepads, to plan and prioritize your work schedule for upcoming weeks/ days.
7. Take Regular Breaks
Staying chained to your chair for a long time does not make you productive. Instead, it causes more fatigue and burnout, resulting in poor performance and time wastage. Therefore, breaks are important to rejuvenate your mind, whether you are working in-office or remotely.
Switching off from your work for some time and taking much-needed breaks helps in increasing productivity and improving focus. It also helps your brain process more information and be more creative. Experts advise taking brain breaks in regular intervals, in which you put aside your work for some time and do something creative or relaxing. It can be anything from taking a short walk, reading a magazine, listening to music, or taking a power nap. Small breaks reset your brain to be more focused and creative, ultimately making you more productive and helping you get more work done in less time.
8. Stay Connected with Your Colleagues
Irrespective of your location of work, you should stay connected with your coworkers using chat tools and video conferencing tools. You can collaborate with your colleagues using digital conferencing tools to work on any task that has roadblocks or requires brainstorming discussion. You can also coordinate with your teammates in solving any impedances if they are not in the office. It will also help in building healthy work relationships with your team.
9. Using Distraction Blocking Apps
A source from FastCompany reveals that it takes around 23 minutes and 15 seconds on average to regain focus on the task after getting distracted. Distractions can appear in the form of usage of social media, visiting shopping websites, responding to emails, attending personal phone calls, etc. To overcome this, employees can use distraction-blocking apps in their systems. It enables you to block certain websites or apps from your system for a certain time period so that you can zero in on your work and save your precious time.
10. Create Daily Collaborative Hours
Effective team collaboration is key to the success of any project. However, in the hybrid model, where some are working from home while others are from the office, smooth collaboration can become somewhat tricky. To overcome this, the team can designate a specific period for every day, such as 10 am to 12 pm. In this slot, teams can reach out to each other without any appointment or blocking any time on the calendar.
In short, the hybrid work model offers several benefits, including work-life balance, more flexibility, and an easy transition from remote to in-office work cultures. But managing the in-office and remote days effectively can work as a game changer. Planning everything before the inception of the week, prioritizing tasks for in-office and remote days, and blocking appropriate time for the right activities are some of the good time management practices that can improve your productivity and efficiency in the hybrid work model.