How to manage work-life balance with hybrid or remote work

Work-life balance took on a whole new meaning for employees, and particularly working parents, over the past year as students learned from home while many of their parents worked from home throughout the pandemic. In 2021, as school districts and employers continue to work out the kinks of our new working environment, more people continue to figure out how to manage a hybrid schedule.

Hybrid schooling and hybrid work arrangements are becoming popular solutions to the pandemic challenge: Having only half the number of students in school or employees at work at the same time allows for easier social distancing, while offering the benefits of in-person learning or working at least some of the time. Research shows that 81 percent of professional employees either don’t want to go back to the office at all or would prefer to work in the office two or three days per week and at home the other days.1

And more employers are embracing the idea of full-time or half-time remote work: Facebook says at least half of its workforce will be permanently remote by 20302, and Twitter and Square have said their employees will be allowed to work from wherever they want from now on.3

With a year of working and learning remotely under their belts, many employers and employees have figured out some of the nuances to being successful in these new ways of operating. As you endeavor to find the right solution that works for you, your work and your personal life, keep these factors in mind.

Work and life are intricately connected

During the pandemic, with so many people working, learning and doing everything from home, our personal lives and professional lives became intricately connected. In many organizations, that connection will continue to be recognized, and supervisors are likely to be more lenient with remote workers who need to take an hour out of the workday to pick up kids from school. In return, employees may be expected to make up that time by answering emails in the evening or completing a project after hours when needed.

There’s no substitute for open, regular communication

If you have children still learning from home, make sure you’re aware of all the communication channels available with school as well as with work. With the ability to communicate regularly, you can ensure that you and your kids are able to accomplish all you’re supposed to do during at-home days.

If you’re working on a hybrid schedule, use your in-person days to build strong face-to-face relationships with co-workers and supervisors. Having a positive personal relationship with others at work will make it easier to communicate with them during your at-home days.

Time management is crucial

Achieving an appropriate work-life balance has always required strong time management, but that’s even more true when working remotely or on a hybrid schedule. To succeed, build a consistent schedule that will work for your family on both at-home days and away-from-home days. That means waking up at the same time each day and keeping kids on a consistent schedule.

On work-from-home days, working parents who rise before their children can knock a few items off their to-do lists before meeting the demands of helping children with schoolwork or other needs throughout the day. Getting an early start can take off some of the pressure of everything that has to be done—and being able to stop work when it’s time will help you avoid increased stress at home.

Adaptability may trump experience and training

During the pandemic, many employees’ traditional job descriptions were thrown out the window as employers had to reconfigure their business models almost overnight. The employees who were able and willing to adapt to the changes and contribute in any area they were needed, regardless of their job description, contributed to their employers’ ability to survive and succeed during a difficult time.

In addition to finding a balance between work and home life, tomorrow’s employees will also need to find a balance between performing their job requirements and being flexible enough to perform other duties their employer may need.

1 “HBS Online Survey Shows Most Professionals Have Excelled While Working from Home,” Harvard Business School Online; March 2021

2 “Mark Zuckerberg: Half of Facebook may work remotely by 2030,” by Dylan Byers, NBC News; May 2020

3 “Following Twitter, Square to also let employees work from home going forward,” by Dylan Byers, NBC News; May 2020