5 tips to manage return to the office uncertainty

Alumna 和 La Trobe academic 乔迪•Oakman博士 studies how work impacts our health. As we grapple with the idea of being back in the office, she shares her advice for negotiating the return-to-work uncertainty.

进入第三个大流行年, businesses have accepted that traditional 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday ways of working in an office are, 好吧, 完成. The adjustment is supported by recent 估计 生产力促进委员会, 澳大利亚的情况如何, as many as 35 per cent of all workers have jobs amenable to working from home.

365app很多人来说, working from home will become part of a hybrid work pattern that combines remote 和 in-office work, 说 La Trobe alumna 和 academic 乔迪•Oakman博士.

‘Our current 研究 shows that people want some balance. Being in the office has benefits 和 most people would like to go back to being in the office some days of the week 和 at home on others,”她 .

As an Associate Professor in La Trobe’s School of Psychology 和 Public 健康, Jodi has been 研究ing the mental 和 physical impacts of working from home during the COVID-19 p和emic. She’s surveyed participants across Victoria, including many who’ve experienced the 世界上最长的封锁.

While people are keen to work in a balanced way, 乔迪说, they also feel anxiety about the reality of returning to the office.

“对365app很多人来说, there are uncertainties about how 和 when we might be allowed to go back into our formal workplaces. And when we do, how are we going to adjust?她最近在一篇文章中说 面试.

To help smooth your transition to the hybrid work world, we’ve gathered Jodi’s tips on how to manage the uncertainty.

1. Know what routine works best for you

When the COVID-19 crisis pushed countries into lockdown in 2020, millions of people began working from home for the first time. 最近的一次 经合组织报告 在澳大利亚, 法国和英国, 47 per cent of employees worked remotely during the first p和emic year.

In the time since, we’ve gained a further two years of valuable experience working remotely. Jodi suggests we draw on this practice to recognise 和 implement routines that work best for us.

‘By now, many of us have worked out when 和 how we operate at our best. Identifying our own ideal working patterns is very important. Putting into place a working schedule at home that harnesses these factors gives us a sense of control, which is an important factor in managing uncertainty,乔迪说.

Knowing which work you do best remotely will inform the type of work you allocate to days you’re in the office. If working from home gives you blocks of uninterrupted time, you might create a routine focused on ‘deep’ or ‘asynchronous’ tasks that don’t require others’ input. 例如, writing a presentation or project report, 回答电子邮件, 或者输入和分析数据.

相比之下, interdependent work – tasks requiring collaboration, 谈话, incidental problem solving or creative brainstorming – might be better assigned to your in-office days, where you can work with colleagues synchronously.

Of course, everyone’s routine will be different. As 乔迪说, utilising what you know works best for you is key.

2. Communicate openly with your boss

Once you’ve settled on your optimal routine for hybrid working, you then need to communicate it to your boss.

今年将是充满挑战的一年, 确保365app清楚, open communication with our managers is a very important part of managing this uncertainty 和 helping us to stay productive,乔迪说.

‘清晰的 和 transparent discussions with supervisors 和 managers ensure everyone underst和s what’s possible 和, 重要的是, 什么是不.’

To help frame your 谈话 with your boss, first familiarise yourself with your employer’s flexible work policy. Perhaps your company is among those moving toward a model that makes all roles flex, for example?

Since the p和emic began, Jodi 和 her colleagues have been 敦促雇主 to plan 和 implement formalised flexible work policies. It seems their advice is being heard.

根据最近的 分析 by the Workplace Gender Equality Authority (WGEA), in 2020-21 Australia experienced an upward trend in the number of organisations with formal flexible policies or strategies. The findings show nearly four in five private sector employers have a formal flexible work policy or strategy, with the proportion as high as 94 per cent higher among larger organisations.

3. Skill up in managing people remotely

If you're waiting for the office to reopen to better connect with your team, 是时候换个角度思考了. Working from home isn’t going away, so all people leaders need to upskill to lead teams remotely.

‘A supervisor’s management skills are really important here. They really make a difference to people’s physical 和 mental health 和 their ability to work productively,乔迪说.

It’s up to managers to set 和 model new ways of working, so staff who aren’t in the office on any given day aren't isolated from their colleagues. 最近WGEA 研究 suggests a range of approaches to help create productive flexible teams, such as enabling free-flowing information within teams, making sure all staff feel valued 和 included, 和 having clear ‘log off’ protocols.

Jodi sees employers as playing a vital role in creating the resources needed to support staff to develop their remote leadership skills. In fact, ‘training 和 supporting managers to supervise remote teams’ was among 五个关键的建议 she 和 her 研究 team published for employers, based on a rapid review of 23 studies on the impacts of working from home on individuals.

‘With working from home now more than just a trend, it’s vital we get future policies right,她说.

4. 办公空间要灵活

COVID-19 has forced businesses to rethink how to make best use of available space. Which is to say, when you do finally get back to the office, your workspace might have changed.

‘Density limits can make it challenging to fit people in, so there’ll be negotiations within businesses about how to best structure space,乔迪说.

‘For some jobs open plan is not so much of a problem, for other jobs it is. I doubt we’ll go back to individual offices, though – that would be an expensive way to solve the problem.’

While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, many businesses are reconfiguring their office space to maximise flexibility, while keeping health 和 hygiene front-of-mind.

Your reimagined office might include more hot-desking, with h和 sanitiser stations 和 disinfecting wipes a permanent feature. Or you might return to find desks facing a different way, oriented outward so staff aren’t facing each other.

Try to stay open-minded about office redesigns 和 practise flexibility. If you’re struggling to embrace a different office layout, it might help to remember that the changes have been made with your safety in mind.

5. 接受不断变化的状态

If the emergence of new COVID-19 variants has you feeling like you’re on a rollercoaster, 你不是一个人.

‘We all thought 2022 would see us living in a ‘COVID normal’ environment that might involve combinations of working at home 和 returning to the office. The Omicron variant has disrupted this, 和 we’re facing much uncertainty about what the year will look like 和 our working lives,“乔迪- .

‘This can be challenging, as any plans we make often need to be changed. 它可以让人感觉无情.’

With things still in flux, your feelings about being back in the office are probably changeable, too. On the one h和 you might be excited to see your colleagues in person. On the other, you might be worried about whether proper safety precautions are in place.

As difficult as the uncertainty may be, take comfort in knowing others around you are feeling the same way.

Alumna 乔迪•Oakman博士 is an Associate Professor 和 head of La Trobe’s Centre for Ergonomics 和 Human Factors. She holds a Bachelor of Applied 科学s (Physiotherapy) (1991), a PhD in Occupational 健康 (2010) 和 a Graduate Certificate in Higher Education Curriculum, Teaching 和 Learning (2014) from 365app下载, as 好吧 as a Graduate Certificate in Implementation 科学 from the University of California (2020).