After a year and a half of being confined to their own four walls, many people are stepping into a time of unprecedented flexibility in terms of deciding if and when they’re expected to show up at the office. And if you have a spouse, partner, or housemate going through the same transition-to-hybrid situation, your decisions will need to factor in not only what works for you, but also those living with you at home.
Know your fixed constraints
Before you communicate with your boss, sit down and have a conversation with the other people in your home to figure out what are each your fixed constraints, or nonnegotiables. For example, maybe one of you always needs to be in the office on Monday for a team staff meeting. Or maybe you have children that need someone home to do drop off and pick up. Or maybe you have a dog that needs to go out throughout the day.
Whatever the conditions, you want to get clear on which days someone will definitely be away from the house. You also also want to determine if someone needs to be home every day to help with caring for children, pets, or other family members, so you can make arrangements such as an after-school babysitter or a dog walker.
Optimize your work
Once you’ve completed the first step, you will have determined who will be home which days. Therefore, you can spend some time looking at other factors, such as how to optimize work.
For example, one person may have a large report that he needs to produce every Thursday for a Friday deadline, and he does best with a quiet, distraction-free environment to get that work done. If that’s the case, the rest of the household’s members can adjust their days so that Thursday they work out of the house (or schedule a time to go to the office), so your deadline-bound member can have some space.
To break it down further, discuss what kinds of work each of you do best from home and the kinds of work that are better completed at the office, and finally give each other the space needed to be productive
Preserve connection time
Depending on the length of your commute, you might not get home until 8 p.m. at night when you go into the office. This makes the time for personally connecting with those in your home in rather short supply.
Granted, this may not be a big deal if you’re living with housemates and all of you are pretty independent. But if you’re wanting to preserve time for your relationship or children, then see if there is at least one day when you can both work from home. That way it’s possible to have an earlier dinner together and enjoy some extra time in the same space before bed.
When everyone was home 24/7, connection time was abundant. But with the return of office work, you’ll need to be more conscious to preserve it.
Support personal interests
Maybe you have an improv comedy class that you’d love to attend on Monday nights and your housemate has an exercise class on Fridays by her office that brings her joy. If there are certain activities outside of work that mean a lot to you where working from home or working from the office would make them possible, support one another in those pursuits.
A lot of people have been “fun deprived” for a long time, and it’s important to do those things that make you thrive. A hybrid arrangement is a transition after an extended period of fully remote work. But with the right planning, you can use the option to be in the office to find what’s optimal for both your personal and professional lives.