Return to the Office: 5 Tips for Choosing Your Days Strategically
After many months of remote work, many of us will be returning to the office a few days a week. The name of the game: hybrid mode! Is this the case for you? Some companies have established a gradual return, while others are leaving it to the discretion of their employees to manage this new schedule. In either case, strategic reflection is necessary to get the most out of the days you choose to go physically to work.
Indeed, experts and studies show that this presence can make all the difference when it comes to professional advancement. “The lens of visibility in the workplace is very powerful,” says Johanna Weststar, Associate Professor of Industrial Relations at Western University, specifying that this bias affects how employees are evaluated and promoted. In other words, out of sight means out of mind in the decisions managers make. The long-term result is a decline in feedback, recognition, promotions, and raises.
The good news is that this can be avoided simply by heading in to the office a few days a week. To maximize the impact of this valuable time, here are a few factors to consider so you can be strategic when planning your return!
Factor #1 — Your professional opportunities
Ideally, you’ll make sure you have direct access to the people who can positively influence your career growth and offer you the support you need to achieve your ambitions. Think of your manager, of course, but also of trusted colleagues, mentors, or sponsors. The idea is to create favourable opportunities to let them know what you want to achieve and allow them to see you in action. It’s a known fact that in important meetings, you have much more impact if you articulate your ideas in person rather than through a screen. What’s more, by being there, you’ll have access to informal conversations and spontaneous meetings that allow you to find out about the latest company news… and opportunities to be seized!
Strategic questions: At what point in the week can I cross paths with the most people of influence? Which are the important meetings that I should attend and contribute to?
Factor #2 — Your productivity
Thanks to extended teleworking, you now know which tasks are best done solo (and in your pyjamas). You’ve also figured out when you need to collaborate with your colleagues, discuss with your team, or seek input from your manager — activities that all work better face to face. It’s also worth noting that whether at home or in the office, the equipment, workspace, or comfort you have can make or break your productivity. So, what should you do? First, set priorities for the week, then choose the context in which you can work most effectively.
Strategic questions: In which environment do I perform best? Do the tasks I need to perform require concentration (at home) or collaboration (in the office)?
Factor #3 — Your social life
After months of isolation, people’s social needs vary greatly. While the more extroverted are eager to recharge their batteries with others, some feel more comfortable reconnecting gradually. In any case, knowing your own pace will allow you to make good use of those days spent in the office and keep up your internal professional network. Maintaining rich and varied relationships is not only good for your mental health, but it’s also a great way to build trust across the organization — and maximize your influence!
Strategic questions: Outside my usual team, who are the colleagues that I want to see? Who do I have stimulating conversations with? Are there any new recruits I could meet?
Factor #4 — Your work-life balance
Hybrid mode preserves two undeniable benefits of remote work: flexibility and time savings. You might as well take advantage of this in your weekly schedule to make room for the times that matter most to you, to both minimize friction between the many facets of your busy life and manage your energy in an optimal way. For example, you could combine your days away with a workout at the gym, if that’s what helps you relieve stress, see your friends, and look after your physical health.
Strategic questions: What are my priorities and my responsibilities? How can hybrid mode improve my life overall?
Factor #5 — Your enjoyment
The fun factor is also part of the equation! Fun is essential for keeping you motivated and energized to take on challenges. By identifying the sources of joy, inspiration, and creativity in your daily work life, you have access to an infinitely renewable fuel source to propel your ambition!
Strategic Question: What puts me in a good mood?
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