Hybrid work: the new office life

The signs are that schools are going back in September: and so too are many offices, with leaders deciding that working from back bedrooms, surrounded by old playmobile and computer cables, has gone on long enough. Teams need their buzz back: for sales, for innovation, for training. Even if it’s once a week or twice a month, many leaders are determined to break the stalemate and drag us back into town again from time to time. Although some of us  will come skipping, happy to escape home. For all those staring into their wardrobes, trying to remember the person who wore those dark, heavy clothes, here are a few things to consider:

Honing your video skills. Whatever happens next, presenting well on live stream or video is going to be an essential – and differentiating – skill. There are technical considerations of course, the kit, set up and sound, but more important is how you connect emotionally. Being able to engage and energise will put you and your team ahead in times when people need all the energy and connection they can get.

Factoring in the Covid sensitivity of your colleagues and clients: some will be very nervous of any form of meeting and others will be mad keen to see you again. Everyone will need to gauge responses to possible meetings and perhaps censor what they did during lockdown (especially if they were in the lax ‘inclined to visit Bernard Castle’ team).

Boxing your time. Many people will be working in timed phases – early and late shifts – to decrease density. Which means leaving at set times. This will be a welcome relief for everyone who has worked night, lunch and day for the last few months and seen their home and work lives blend into a giant, untidy mess. This is the time to take all the advice out there and reset your boundaries and work better when ‘on’ and decompress when ‘off’.

Rebuilding networks. Our networks got smaller in lockdown. We spoke to fewer people and met fewer new ones, which means we are less likely to hear different views and ideas. Looking at your strategy to refresh some weak ties and create new ones is important if we are to make better decisions. It will include making times to drop someone a line or pick up the phone for a catch up.

Reviewing your communications platforms. Live streaming calls has been hugely overdone in lockdown. Review all your comms platforms: from Slack to instant messages to direct calls and even walking meetings and choose which works better for which purposes and at what time of day.

Cascading some joy. Even if you loved it, a lot of people had a bloody awful time during lockdown: home-schooling was a nightmare, many had to cope with illness, loneliness was rife and relationships came under real pressure. Whatever you think about the return to work, it’s a great moment to share experiences, boost each other with some kindness and rekindle friendship – and remember the pleasure of a really good laugh with colleagues.

Christine Armstrong is a contributing editor of Management Today, speaker and author of “The Mother of All Jobs”. To book her (or any other speaker) for your event, contact JLA here

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