Maximising Productivity in Hybrid Work Environments: Tools & Techniques 

For those of you who have the kinds of careers where we can work remotely, the work environment has changed significantly in the past few years. There is significant proof that working remotely is a relevant and successful option. 


There is also a shift in the market now that the immediate threat has dissipated toward hybrid work. There is a desire for some to be more personal. To be together. To share in a human-centric way. You could argue that you can be personal and human-centric with remote work, yet some yearn for that personal connection. Whatever the motivator for it, it is real.  


I think the reason for drawing people back to the office more is a mixture of desires around human connection, trust and economics – what do you do with all that office space if no one is there? Let me know if you think I am wrong or if there are other reasons to add. 


Maximising productivity through hybrid arrangements, I believe, needs to be negotiated honestly. For instance, if you really want to have the team in the office for human connection, say it – ‘I like to spend time with the team face-to-face, as it allows us to get to know each other in a more fluid way’. Or ‘we can work together more fluidly’ than via the virtual realm. This of course is setting a decree and it is one way.  


So, if you are a leader make sure you engage with your team to negotiate the middle ground. Find out what works for them. Why they like to work the way they do. Settle on an arrangement that works for them as well as you. Make sure you negotiate openly and perhaps over several discussions. No ‘one hit wonder’ conversations with a view to walking away with it all your way.  


A great example of the benefits of working remotely for me recently was I had 4 minutes between meetings. No time to start anything new. So, I hung a load of washing, put another on, grabbed water, gave the dog afternoon tea – a carrot, and used the bathroom. It was probably the most productive 4 minutes I’ve had in a long time. It meant I finished the day knowing I had been productive in a way that was useful for my clients and me alike. Yes, the washing was dry at the end of the day. So less to do on the weekend with the domestic juggle! I was very satisfied. 


Some practical tips for creating an effective work schedule 

1.      Work together in a collaborative way to agree on the days and times for being in different location/s.  

2.      Work out what tasks need to be done in the office versus what can be done elsewhere. Then arrange schedules to optimise the way work will be done. 

3.      Aim to remove the bias of those who have a one way or the other preference. To do this, make sure that everyone spends time in both scenarios. 

4.      Reevaluate quarterly to see what is working and what is not. Then make changes as appropriate. 


If you are grappling with how to make hybrid work the best for you personally  

1.      Set your work boundaries for when working at home. Avoid working extra hours in case people think you are not working enough.  

2.      Balance your time ensuring you focus on delivering your work. 

3.      Block out in your calendar the times of day when you need a break. 


Bring your hybrid work environment to life by making sure your desk and work aids are set up according to Work Health and Safety recommendations. There are many resources for ergonomics on the Internet. Your employer may also have guidelines too. 



Technology at Your Service 


·         Overview of tech tools and software that can facilitate seamless transitions between workspaces. 

·         How to leverage project management and communication tools effectively. 


Staying on the right side of communication and collaboration 

Virtual communication is fraught. Have you ever received a text message and taken it the wrong way? You might be thinking something, expecting a rub from the person, or not in the mood to be asked to do something, and your emotions begin to take over. You read or take it the wrong way. And when you go back to it later it comes across differently to how you took it in the moment. REMEMBER this and: 


1.      Draft your messages and hold off on sending straight away if your senses are heightened 

2.      Take a breath – literally and metaphorically if your senses are heightened, and review any message you have received to see if it is as you thought it was 

3.      Take another look at your draft and make changes if needed 

4.      If in doubt – call the person. Many businesses utilised MS Teams and similar. This makes it easy to connect.  

5.      If you are confused or not sure what you are being asked to do, ask open questions. Ask the person if it is OK for you to get more information first. Some open question examples are: 

a.       I am not sure what you mean by… can you please explain a bit more 

b.      Can you tell me more about … so I can make sure I give you what you want 

c.       When you said … did you mean … – this is called checking your understanding 

If you think something has been lost in communication and there is a risk that something is going to go awry, you can respectfully challenge with an approach like this: 


‘Do you know of Edward De Bono’s six hats?’ 


If they don’t you can explain they are a way of channelling thinking. You can find a reference here: 


You think there could be a risk, and so are putting the ‘black hat’ on for challenge. Say; ‘If I may, I’d like to put the black hat on for a moment to tease out some questions I have that, as I think there might be a risk with…’  


And now proceed with your questions with a view that using the black hat is not going to be critical and invoke defensiveness. 


If you are chairing a virtual meeting make sure you seek everyone’s input.  


If you are attending a virtual meeting, make sure you have your camera on. Mobile phone facing down and away from you with the ringer off. Engage with others by asking questions, having something insightful to say or simply clarifying. 


Clapping from the sidelines with emojis is nice and supportive. But make sure your engagement in meetings is deeper. Ask questions too. 



Staying focused on your work and looking after yourself at the same time 

I am the kind of person who the moment I start working I can easily not stop allllll day! I love my work – who wouldn’t when I get to work with great people like you!  


This habit of mine is not the best though for my wellness. I find myself taking off to see the Osteopath way too frequently, as I am not looking after my wellness. So, let’s take a look at some strategies for balancing on being productive and caring for your wellness. 


Tackling productivity straight on, there are many studies that show how our concentration works. We move in and out of our ability to concentrate intently and then with lesser ability. Take a moment to consider when you are at your best during the day for different types of work. 


You may be better able to focus on more complex work during the morning when your brain is fresh from sleep.  

Later in the day may be a better time to focus on more administrative tasks. 


Build breaks into your day. They can be: 

·         Walking around the block 

·         Eating and drinking away from your desk 

·         4 x 2-minute stretches per day 

·         4 x 1-minute eye focussing breaks 


If you are at home, consider what you can do with a 4-minute break between meetings. One day I managed to hang a load of washing, put another on, grab some water and use the bathroom. At the end of the day, I felt like I had accomplished a lot and didn’t to worry about the washing! 



If you are in a virtual meeting, build in personal connect moments. Get to know your colleagues and find things to talk about.  

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