Good news: Your company has decided to permit hybrid work, or work that happens both on and off company property. Hybrid setups can offer the day-to-day flexibility that we crave, reduce our commuting and work-related expenses and allow greater focus on our well-being.
Bad news: Hybrid work can also create unexpected headaches, overwork, isolation and strained relationships as expectations and styles clash.
Here are five ways you're risking burnout with your current practices — and how to make sure you stay on track with all of the benefits hybrid work can provide.
1. Your professional and personal lives blur together.
For most of us, work used to be a place where we went. You could be someone different, use different skills, shed your home life for a few hours, and swap it for a new persona like Mr. Rogers changing his shoes and jumper before showtime. Now, a couple of days a week, you host your office at your home. Once used for relaxation and rejuvenation, the space has become a classroom, restaurant, conference room, gym for the entire family or maybe the whole office.
The best strategy for sharpening the lines between work and home is setting boundaries. Schedule everything, create a defined space and speak up. Talk to your manager if you need help separating work from home. Create a written agreement detailing your results, availability and expectations. Ask your supervisor to help you stay accountable. If they notice you emailing at 10 pm, they should call you on it.
2. You don’t have time for creation or reflection.
If you find that yourself in a whirlwind, review your to-do list and schedule. First, recognize that everything on your to-do list is optional. You don't have to do anything – nothing. It's all optional.
Now, take control of your time and decide what kind of life you want. Do you want to be a productive, well-nourished, groomed person who is raising healthy children? Then put self-care, eating, showering and taking care of your kids on your schedule. Birthday party? Sorry, we can't make it. Bake sale? Can't do it. Ruthlessly honor yourself by saying no to things you don't want to do and that you have not previously scheduled.
3. You feel isolated, both at work and at home.
Loss of community and connection to colleagues is the top drawback to hybrid and remote work, and it's no surprise. People make the experience of working excellent or miserable. So, if you're missing the post-meeting autopsy in the conference room, the high-five from your boss after your presentation, happy hour with your team, or coffee with your "work spouse," you're not alone, and you need to speak up.
People are starving for interaction. We build a connection as we develop familiarity, so take a couple of minutes to do an icebreaker at the start of meetings and schedule virtual team events and social activities. Talk to your manager about planning regular team-building activities into the calendar and scheduling time for unstructured creativity and access to leaders. Celebrate small and big victories and listen when a team member is struggling.
4. You can’t keep everything in one place.
It can be frustrating (and time-consuming) to pack and unpack your workstation as you move between telework locations. Especially when you realize you've left your laptop cord in the wrong spot. Your first call should be to your manager or IT department to ask about a duplicate setup or docking station.
After that, get yourself a good bag and an even better system. Make a checklist and laminate it. Assign everything a place so that you can see at a glance if you've forgotten something. Make a practice of backing up your data and storing essential documents in the cloud so they can be retrieved anywhere. Use the same software for personal stuff as work tasks. Getting familiar with one email program and one operating system will make life much easier.
Being organized with your equipment and supplies will make your transition from work to off-site a snap.
5. Your professional future feels unclear.
Ambiguity about the future is one of the top causes of employee anxiety. If your company leaders haven't created a compelling vision for the future of work – it doesn't mean you can't make your own.
How do you think about your future? Are you having negative thoughts like, "I'm never going to get promoted," or are you cultivating more valuable ideas such as, "I am contributing at the highest level I can”? Our thoughts trigger a series of responses that show up in our results – so, focusing on your mindset can provide tremendous gains independently of what is happening around you.
Talk to your manager about your development plan and career goals. It's always a good practice to keep your resume and LinkedIn profile updated and seek learning from outside your organization by joining a professional association and networking. No one can anticipate the future with any absolute certainty, but as Louis Pasteur famously said, "Chance favors only the prepared mind."
The new frontier of hybrid work will require us to be increasingly thoughtful about our development and promotion, stay connected to colleagues and leaders, and look after our physical and mental well-being by setting boundaries and protecting our work-life ratio.
Keep in mind that remote work doesn't have to be performed at your home. You can find co-working spaces, libraries, parks and other public spaces to spend a few hours and get some inspiration.
What’s your no. 1 piece of advice on hybrid workplaces? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss'ers!
This article was written by a Fairygodboss Contributor.