Hybrid working is on the rise as lockdown restrictions around the world loosen. The current “work at home” guidance from the UK government is due for review on the 21st of June. With a recent spate of announcements across the legal sector heralding “hybrid work”, here are some of our favourite hacks for making the return to the office work for you, whatever form it takes.

#1 Make sure you’re road-ready

If you’ve seen your dry-cleaning bill diminish and relegated your suits and smart shoes to the back of the wardrobe, the return to the office will require a bit of organising. Hybrid working can involve unexpected meetings in person, so make sure you’re ready for the road.

  • Keep at least two office outfits prepped, including shoes
  • Have a bag ready with phone charger, travel card etc 
  • Sign up for a service that will collect and deliver dry-cleaning to your door.

If you’re going to need less workwear going forward, declutter and either give stuff away or pack it away so that getting ready in the mornings is easier.

#2 Health check your childcare

Arranging childcare for shorter hours or different days of the week to support hybrid working can be more difficult than full-time nursery or after-school childcare. As well as your regular childcare provision, now is the time to: 

  • Update your list of local holiday clubs – many are now back up and running 
  • Find emergency backup – reinvigorate your network of trusted babysitters
  • Buddy up with friends – see if you can pair up to cover school drop-offs and pick-ups for each other.

Preparing children for a shift in routine is important too. If they’ve got used to having more time with you around, talk to them about what’s going to change and how you as a family are going to manage it. 

#3 Quick boosts to freshen up your “Zoom face”

Yes, we know it’s vain but after months of having our own face beamed back at us and being bathed in blue light for eight hours a day, any cheats to feel a bit fresher are welcome – especially as the prospect of 6:00am starts for the commute is looming. Here are three relatively easy things you can do to look your best: 

  • Invest in some eye masks to tackle tired eyes – try a hot mask for five minutes at the end of the day or some under-eye disposable masks first thing.
  • Make sure you’re cleaning your skin extra-thoroughly after trips into town – you’re exposed to considerable extra amounts of dirt and pollution compared to being at home.
  • Use an overnight facial oil to help your skin recover while you sleep. These can be as plain or fancy as you like, simple squalene or rosehip oil aren’t too expensive and will still get results.

#4 Fine-tune your fitness

With recent research suggesting we should exercise for three minutes for every hour we spend seated, it’s worth having a look at your fitness routines for both home and office work. Find ways to build more movement into your day. Simple exercises can build strength and health benefits, sneak in some of these old favourites in spare minutes throughout the day:

  • press-ups
  • squats
  • lunges 
  • sit-ups

Other tips include joining meetings via your mobile so you can walk and talk (assuming you have some quiet space), blocking out 40 minutes for an exercise session into your calendar or building in low intensity cardio to your commute — walk for part of your journey whenever you can.

If going back to the commute means there are going to be some days when it’s harder to eat well, try subscribing to a meal box service or cooking extra the day before. And don’t forget to plan on healthy snacks – carrying some fruit or nuts can help you resist the temptations of the station snack shops!

#5 Choose the habits that work for you

Everyone has had a different experience of working through lockdown. Whether you’re looking forward to being back in the office or dreading it, take some time to reflect on any positives from the last 15 months. Rather than falling back into old habits automatically, identify what you want to go back to and what you’d like to keep from lockdown life. This might lead to a few small changes you keep hold of going forward, or even point you to a new way of working altogether. 

86% of lawyers surveyed recently by Thomson Reuters said that they want flexibility in working conditions to survive beyond the pandemic. We hope these tips will help you navigate the new world of hybrid working and make it work for you.

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