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6 Tips for Moving from Remote to Hybrid Working

As organisations begin to open their offices again, many people across the country are experiencing a feeling they haven’t felt in decades: the familiar pang of last-day-of-the-school-holidays dread.

After spending the last two years working from home – experiencing new-found levels of autonomy, flexibility, and the ability to compile spreadsheet reports in pyjamas with no one judging you – it’s no surprise that people are getting angsty about returning to the office.

We’ve had a taste of freedom, a world where work doesn’t rule our lives (or our lunch options), and we like it.

Luckily, a return to full-time office work doesn’t look to be on the immediate horizon. Instead, employers are moving to hybrid working: an approach where you spend some of your work week in the office and some at home.

So, how can you adapt to this new way of working smoothly and ease yourself back into an office-based work environment? Here are our best tips for moving from remote to hybrid working.

What is Hybrid Working?

First of all, let’s deal with definitions. ‘Hybrid’ is a word that’s flashed around a lot, but what does it actually mean in the context of work?

Hybrid working is basically a blend of working from home and working in the office. In most arrangements, hybrid working typically takes the form of going into an office to work for one to three days a week, and then spending the remainder of the time working from home.

As governments across the world declare that we must now ‘learn to live’ with COVID-19 rather than try to mitigate it, and begin to scrap remaining restrictions, many employers are trying to return to office-based work and transition away from remote working.

Hybrid working is one strategy that employers are using to get bums back on office seats and start to transition to face-to-face working again.

Tips for moving from remote to hybrid working

1. Get organised the night before returning to the office

The more you can prepare in advance, the more relaxed and comfortable you’ll feel about your return to office life.

Here are a few ways to get organised for a day back in the office:

  • Lay out what you’re going to wear the day before so that you don’t have to spend ages deciding in the morning.
  • Pack your bag the night before, and remember to take any work equipment you’ll need, like your laptop, mobile and key card!
  • If you take a packed lunch, make sure to prepare it in advance.
  • Make sure you know your route to work and method of transport (especially if you changed jobs during the pandemic and will be going to the office for the first time).

Even if you think you know the public transport timetables, it’s worth double-checking. A lot of bus and train companies have reduced the frequency of services they offer due to the falling demand of transport during the pandemic.

Many are only just beginning to reinstate routes, so the 7:20am train you took to work every morning for 5 years from Platform 2 might not necessarily be leaving from Platform 2 at 7:20am anymore.

It makes sense to be careful and double-check that your means of getting to work still exists!

A female worker at home using a laptop with a young child on her lap

2. Align your remote and hybrid workspaces

Moving from one workplace to another calls for a high degree of organisation and coordination. You’ll need to think about how you can create a remote and an office workspace that are easy to slip between and that don’t compromise your productivity.

After all, moving from one place of work to another constantly can be quite jarring and take some getting used to. Ensuring that your home working environment and your office-based working environment are as closely aligned can be a great way to minimise this disruption.

Here are some tips to align your remote and office workspaces:

  • Ask your employer for a decent laptop case or bag so that you can safely transport it to and from both work environments.
  • Keep the same routine in both workplaces. For example, try to start work or go to lunch at the same time each day.
  • Have identical sets of stationery at home and in the office (such as a to-do list, a diary or notepad), or take these with you each day to ensure you have access to all the information you need. This will stop any important tasks from falling through the memory hole!

3. Take one day at a time

Changing a routine or a schedule can have a big impact on our mental health. If you find you’re feeling particularly anxious about returning to the office, taking hybrid working one day at a time can be a good tactic.

Evolution has wired human brains to break big problems down into smaller ones to help us cope with the sheer immensity of the world and the situations that we encounter. Using this innate ability to compartmentalise situations can work to our advantage when it comes to coping with mentally draining tasks.

Use your brain’s biology to your advantage by breaking the week down into smaller sections and taking each day as it comes – one at a time.

A woman sat on a sofa working on a laptop

4. Treat yourself!

Moving from remote working to hybrid working can take a lot of motivation. Creating an informal reward system for yourself is one of the easiest (and most fun!) ways to get yourself going!

Using rewards is a useful way to tap into the chemical processes in your brain. When you’re rewarded, your body releases a chemical called dopamine which makes you feel good. Dopamine is highly addictive, so once you’ve had some, your body craves more.

Of course, when we say rewards, we don’t necessarily mean treating yourself to massive, bank-breaking things like buying yourself a new iPhone or going on a shopping spree.

You need to find a type of reward that works with your budget and your interests, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all response. Make a list of small things that make your day in the office that little bit easier.

It could be getting a posh coffee once a week, setting up a lunch date with your work BFF for that new restaurant you’ve been wanting to try, or treating yourself to a cheeky takeaway once in a while.

Whatever it is, take time to reward yourself!

5. Bring creature comforts into the office

One of the reasons many of us enjoyed working from home was that it was, well, comfortable. We could wear what we wanted. We could listen to our own music whilst we worked. Snacks, sofas, blankets and fuzzy slippers were always near to hand.

Going back to the office means re-submitting to rigid discipline, upright chairs and trousers without elasticated waistbands – a move few of us will relish/

Whilst we may not be able to change bigger aspects of our office décor or dress code, there’s no reason we can’t work within them to bring more comfort to our workspaces.

Your imagination is the limit when it comes to thinking about how to make your office more comfortable.

For example, food, drink and snacks are a great way to bring home comforts to your working area. If allowed, consider creating a snack drawer or table, where everybody contributes a snack each week and anyone can take what they fancy that day.

Office a little chilly? A blanket over your lap might be inconspicuous enough to pass muster with your boss (and inspire your colleagues to get an office blanket of their own!)

If your workplace is a little more formal, something as simple as asking management for a space heater or a fan can give you more control over your surroundings.

6. If it isn’t working, request a change

Whilst employers might like to pretend that every single employee is clamouring to return to full-time office work as fast as possible, a significant number have serious misgivings about returning to crowded, face-to-face environments whilst a pandemic is still raging, and nearly 50% of people globally still haven’t been vaccinated.

Real world data supports the idea that workers are not particularly happy about returning to the office. A survey by McKinsey, for example, found that roughly a third of workers said that returning to the office had negatively impacted their mental health.

If hybrid working is really not working for you, let your employer know.

Raise your concerns with your workplace’s trade union representative, HR department or your own manager and see if they will help you request flexibility from your employer and perhaps a different type of working arrangement.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get!

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