The luxury of working from home was hard to come by in Canada, before 2023. Working from the office five days a week was expected and the norm. Now, fast forward to 2023 where the hybrid workplace has become the norm, and our schedules are split between office and home.
The new hybrid model offers many ways to get the most from your work week! Going into the office has many positives including opportunities for collaboration and teamwork that inspire creativity and promotes work life balance. It allows you to disconnect at the end of the day, recognizing the difference between being productive and burnt out. At the office you can leave your work at your desk. Working from home can blur these boundaries, interrupt your work-life-balance, and make you “hyper-productive” with no opportunity to recharge.
I started coming into our office regularly in July 2021 because I wasn’t feeling motivated working alone in my basement. I found my stress levels were increasing, I barely took breaks during the day, and I was increasingly anxious. Working alone with minimal real life, in-person social interactions five days a week wasn’t doing me any favours and I decided to change that.
I started making in-person connections at the office and found myself most excited when I knew team members would be there with me. Most importantly, I started feeling like myself again --- happy, creative, sociable.
Research from Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, finds that social connection is one of the greatest predictors of happiness and reduced stress. I entirely agree.
Based on my hard-earned experience working remotely at SO through the pandemic, and now working three days a week at our office, here are:
My Top Three Tips on How to Get the Most From your Hybrid Work Experience.
1. Plan team activities outside of work
At Strategic Objectives we value our team and want to enjoy working and learning together. We prioritize a culture where people are genuinely interested, even passionate about the work we do, and feel a genuine connection to it and our teammates.
Bonding, and making friends from work means a lot to me. And it can happen outside of work. Why not sign up for a spin class, grab lunch, go to a gallery, take in a comedy show, or explore new venue spaces together. The options are endless based on your interests! Making plans outside of work forges a bond of friendship –- especially with teammates you may not get to work with directly.
Working exclusively from home is a different story. It’s easy to feel disconnected and bogged down. It’s important to take social breaks to stimulate your brain and get relief from always being on. Why not add in-person lunch, coffee, or cocktail dates with your colleagues and clients to liven up your work week.
2. Skip Virtual Meetings and Meet IRL
One thing I value most about coming into the office is seeing my colleagues. Social experiences and in-person connectivity is something virtual work will never match. In-person meetings create a synergy without boundaries to separate or distract us, like screens, wayward pets, family members, and fire alarms.
There’s less worry you won’t get to contribute your thoughts. Or that someone’s Wi-Fi will disconnect in the middle of the meeting, or your tone and content will be misunderstood. I’m confident that you, like me, will find the increased quality of communication and collaboration makes in-person meetings a higher priority moving forward.
This article from Forbes explains how increased happiness is directly linked to overall health and well-being which in turn, impacts work performance.
3. Take Advantage of Your Learning Environment
Soon after I started coming into the office, I found I was learning and developing my PR skills more quickly because people are more accessible and available to answer questions. When you’re in the office you can approach someone and have a conversation –- a message that sat unread for hours can now be answered instantly. The skills you learn can be anything from software training to a Microsoft hack or media relations tip, but whatever it is, it will make you more efficient and knowledgeable in your role. People learn skills faster in a stimulating, real-life environment.
When I head into the office I’m always eager to see who’ll be there. I love when there’s a group of us and to feed off the buzz and energy. We humans are social animals and benefit from in-person learning and connectivity. There’s no doubt, the hybrid workplace is here to stay, and it’s up to us to take advantage of it and create the best of both worlds.
Taffin Sekulin is a very sociable Senior Consultant at Strategic Objectives.
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