5 Time-Management Tips for the Hybrid-Work Era

Seven in 10 firms plan to have people work at home and at the office. How to make the best of that.

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Wednesday is an office day for a necessary meetup with colleagues to hash out a product launch. Thursday is supposed to be a work-from-home day, a chance to catch up on paperwork without interruption from others. But the interruptions rarely stop. Friday is completely up in the air.

Just as employees and leaders have figured out full-time remote work, numerous organizations are aiming to get employees back to the office on a hybrid schedule. A recent study found that 70% of companies anticipate the “new normal” to be a mix of remote and in-person work. “We’re still in a space where a lot of employees are trying to get comfortable with what type of work environment they want to work in,” says Ryan Frechette, a Korn Ferry Advance career coach. Experts say while hybrid work has certain perks, it can be tricky to manage time while effectively juggling multiple work venues. Here are some tips:

Plan ahead, and specifically.

It may sound obvious, but experts say be sure to communicate with your colleagues and map out the days you’ll be working in the office in advance. This can help avoid uncertainty. Once you have your remote and office days planned, you can assign your work accordingly, says Frechette. “Planning the right task for the right environment” is key to making the most of your time, he says. Work that involves crunching or analyzing numbers may be best suited for when you’re in a quiet space, and whether that’s at home or in an office would differ for each person.

Establish expectations.

If you’re a manager, set clear expectations about in-office days, meetings, and activities. Sit with individual team members to figure out logistics and address concerns such as childcare or other personal issues. Employees also need to communicate their needs to their bosses and consequently figure out work schedules. “It’s important for the manager to understand what the employee is going through, and for the employee to also understand that they need to contribute as well,” says Sondra Levitt, a Korn Ferry Advance career coach.

Try time-blocking.

Block out chunks of time on your calendar to work on individualized tasks, says Mary Elizabeth Sadd, a senior client partner at Korn Ferry. Even on days when you’re working remotely, maintain a concrete schedule and plan out tasks on your calendar. For example, if you need to write a client report, assign starting and ending times on your calendar, much like you would for a meeting, says Sadd. In addition, make sure to set boundaries and log off at a given time every day, she says, since your work shouldn’t permeate into every moment of your life.

Align commitments with your goals.

Effective time management is all about prioritization. Your work priorities could be almost anything, including having face-to-face conversations with colleagues, plowing through as many individual assignments as possible, and finishing all essential phone calls by 4 p.m. Experts suggest setting daily or weekly goals that match up with your priorities. For instance, if you want to have as many as 10 colleague interactions on office days, take care of your other tasks when you’re working from home, Levitt says. Most high-functioning people will make these types of lists and prioritize the most crucial tasks first, says Frechette. “It’s the cornerstone of good time management.”

Mirror your work setting.

To get into a professional groove quickly and consistently, create a similar work environment whether you’re working from home or in the office, says Sadd. If you have a monitor or any other technology at your office desk, set those up at home as well so you don’t have to spend time adjusting to a new work setting every day. On top of ergonomic solutions, forming good habits and discipline around your schedule can help you make the most of your time.