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How to Improve your Office Days in a Mixed World of Work

As more companies around the world ask employees to return to the office amid a drop in the number of Covid-19 cases, the hybrid work model is becoming increasingly popular as it promotes a healthy balance between work and personal life.

“The global pandemic has transformed the traditional way people work,” says Shiraz Sethi, regional hiring director for the Denton law firm.

“Now, with Covid-19 cases on the decline, the prospect of returning full-time to the routine of office work does not seem attractive or necessary.

A hybrid workplace model refers to a flexible work environment that combines remote work with office work. It is essential that business leaders create a work environment that keeps employees happy and productive, while maintaining the culture and needs of the business.”

About nine in 10 employees in the United Arab Emirates favor a fully remote or hybrid work model in the future, according to a 2022 survey by California-based technology company Cisco.

Being flexible in how employees work is key for companies to attract and retain talent in a post-pandemic environment, with 61 per cent of Emirati professionals saying they would be less likely to look for a new job if they had the opportunity to work remotely. Or in the office just one or two days a week, Cisco said.

Hybrid work arrangements also reduced attrition rates at global travel agency Trip.com by 35 percent and improved self-reported job satisfaction scores, with no negative effect on performance reviews or promotions, according to a study by Nicholas Blum and Rubing Han and James of Stanford University. Liang from Stanford University, Peking University in Beijing.

We asked staffing industry experts to share their tips on how employees can make their hybrid workweek more fulfilling.

Improve Work Days

Keep tasks in sync for office days, says Sethi. These are tasks that require collaboration, conversation, brainstorming, or group creativity.

“Asynchronous tasks, which can be completed from start to finish without input from others, such as preparing a one-on-one presentation or mandatory virtual training, should be done at home, since there are larger blocks of uninterrupted time,” he says.

“Each worker will need to assign tasks for work days in the office or at home on the basis that works best for them.”

Organize and Plan for the Future

It’s crucial to plan your days in advance, so you know exactly what you’re doing when you’re in or out of the office, and there are no delays, says Waleed Anwar, managing director of Upfront HR, a Dubai-based staffing firm.

Mr. Sethi says that planning his schedule ahead of time can make all the difference in achieving the right work-life balance, increasing productivity and communicating with his team.

Deciding which days you’ll be in the office, which tasks to prioritize, and scheduling in-person meetings to catch up will ensure you can manage your workload, he says.

Mr. Anwar encourages the daily use of a shared cloud-based calendar that allows everyone to see what the rest of the team is doing at all times.

“This also always allows for collaborative work between team members,” he says.

Check with Your Team

It’s important to build a good relationship with your team to ensure you can count on them for support and collaboration, and to keep up with the latest developments, says Nicky Wilson, owner and CEO of recruiting consultancy Genie, based in Dubai.

Denton’s Mr. Shiraz says developing and maintaining relationships with colleagues is important to ensure the business runs effectively.

“This can be as easy as showing up at a colleague’s desk for a quick welcome and update, coffee breaks, break room chats, joining mentoring schemes or whatever groups your company has created. This will also allow Build trust within the team.

Mr. Sethi says he can also schedule in-person meetings, which will help him network with new colleagues and allow him to communicate with his manager and his team.

Also, host initiatives like a pie day or group lunches to help build team spirit and maintain a work culture, she says.

Getting into an Established Routine

Having a “desktop routine” and a “remote routine” has a direct impact on how successful your days are, says Anwar of human resources firm Upfront.

Although the work you do is the same on a day-to-day basis, there will always be a difference between the two settings, she says.

“The most obvious thing is to go to the office. This will take up more of your day, so you may want to plan your office days around less busy days of the week, commuting-wise, maybe not Mondays.” in the morning, for example,” he says.

“Make it a routine to come to the office on specific days. Having a good routine helps you focus and start in the right mindset.”

External Communication

You need to inform clients, clients, or vendors of your new work arrangements, says John Armstrong, founder and CEO of staffing agency JCA Associates.

If they expect you to be in the office, they may think you’re not available if you’re not, he says.

“Simple things like having a statement in your email signature that you’re working remotely will get the message across. You can transfer your direct landline number [if applicable] to your mobile phone,” Mr. Armstrong says.

Insert Remote

Make sure all internal face-to-face meetings include colleagues who are working remotely, says Armstrong.

If someone’s presence is necessary at a meeting, they should be able to join by video conference or by calling, he says.

Ms. Wilson says that systems like Teams or Monday.com are very helpful in creating a collaborative space to communicate and keep track of deadlines with the team.

“Making sure you’re up to date [with] the latest tools is essential,” she says.

Be aware of Company Policies

Sethi says that having a home device that mirrors the workplace will increase productivity and reduce culture shock when you return to the office.

Training and development programs will also help you re-engage and adjust to working from the office.

“Employees should also make sure they are aware of the company’s return-to-office policies and procedures and make sure they comply with the rules and regulations,” he says.

“This could be as simple as making sure the employee wears the correct and appropriate attire inside the office and making sure they behave appropriately with their colleagues.”

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