How can I get the best of both Work-from-Home and Return-to-Office? - Devan, Accounts Manager
The pandemic is finally coming to an endemic. After a rollercoaster 2 years, Singapore has made its boldest steps to reopen the economy and restart social living.
Even as many rejoiced at reduced restrictions for dining, gatherings and travelling, the announcement for more people to return to the workplaces was met with mixed feelings. After all, we all tasted the goodness of working from home and yet we also relish the opportunity to exchange Zoom / Teams / Webex meetings with real human interactions.
We are glad to share some views on how you can prepare yourself to get the best of both worlds, given that hybrid work arrangement is here to stay.
Use Different Spaces for Different Purposes
Office spaces are evolving into community, collaboration social spaces and hot-desking will become more of a norm, to cut down unnecessary space rental. These changes will mean that you will need to get rid of old mindsets of "my cubicle, my work space" and adopt a "our space, our ideas" mindset. You should also be ready with your best "social A-game" each day at work to face new colleagues and be prepared for interesting conversations from these new interactions.
With more lowered walls and open spaces, you can expect more noise from talking, laughing, discussions happening around you and less privacy too if you are handling work with sensitive information. Working from designated privacy cubicles or choosing to work from home may be needed if you need the quiet and space to focus on your work.
Expect Video Calls to Stay
Don't throw out your fancy headphones and microphones yet! With the prevalence of video call tools over the past 2 years, emails and phone calls will likely be supplemented with video calls for internal or external communications.
You can expect to use video calls for communication with people and agendas that require a slightly more personal touch than emails or phone calls. Video calls will also likely remain as the main communication platform for team or department meetings, to allow people working onsite and remotely to tune in.
Track your Work Progress
With people working from different locations, it is a manager's nightmare to have to keep track of work progress. Enter time task tracking - the reporting of your work tasks and the hours, progress spent on it.
Be prepared to fit in an additional routine to track your efforts and the start, end times to report to your managers. While this form of tracking may seem almost insulting, it is not a new concept and it has been commonly used by consultancies, project managers to monitor productivity and progress.
Make your Commute Productive
One large grouse against return-to-office is the daily commute time. Everyone likes to be able to wake up later, work straight from our homes than to leave home earlier to fight the commute traffic. Arguably, the commute may leave us more tired, frustrated before we even start the work day, making us less productive during work.
Choose to make your commute productive by using the time to build up your emotional well being by practising mindfulness. Choose to look at the people around you, focus on their emotions and notice what they are doing. Look past or laugh off unhappy incidents by acknowledging that we are all humans and we all make mistakes. Give thanks for being alive and be grateful that you have a hybrid work arrangement that allows you the best of both worlds.
Instead of watching dramas or shows on your mobile device, you can opt for an online learning programme, read a book or listen to a podcast to enrich your knowledge. Given that it is quite rare to have standstill time in our busy lives to do any learning or reading, make the most of your commute for this purpose.
Work out your Daily Routines
Having a non regular work routine can become stressful for your spouse, your family if it is not built with their needs in mind. The flexibility of a hybrid work arrangement needs to be planned and managed well to avoid conflicts from happening.
Spend some time each week to talk to your family, spouse and find out about their work arrangements, important events, activities. You can create an online family calendar and track all your work-from-home, return-to-office dates and family events together to facilitate discussions. A task like this would test the your relationships especially when it comes to deciding who has to compromise their work for the family so take time to invest in strengthening your communications and relationships too.
Choice is only good if you know how to use it.
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