Astero StarFish

18 Tips to Optimize Your Return to Office

Employee looking at a monitor.We began returning to office in late 2022 and continue developing new work practices, adjusting to new renovations, and bonding with colleagues added during our months of remote working.
This blog offers tips and insights from StarFish Medical employees from their experiences transitioning to working in the office or hybrid working.

Look at the upside

Walk around. It’s amazing all the little conversations you can have in a day and what you can learn. At home you forget how many conversations you have and how much you hear and learn just by bumping into people in the hall or kitchen at the office.

When you are in the office you can actually meet in a single room, which is great because you get totally different dynamics when meeting in a room. We do hybrid meetings where everybody in the office brings a laptop to the room to be more equal with the people online. This democratizes hybrid meetings as everyone has a square on the screen. It also creates balance by having everyone represented. Now we get to do all these fun things we used to do pre-Covid, and also include virtual Teams/Zoom participants more effectively.

Avoid the temptation to multi-task to be productive during virtual/hybrid meetings. Divided attention during meetings often makes one question whether it was worth meeting at all.

If you have the option to work at home or at the office, be cognizant of where you are the most productive and happiest. Personally, I would much rather work at the office than at home, and so I’ve transitioned back to working from the office nearly 100% of the time. Others may feel that they can work more effectively at home.

The right mix of working from home and working in the office will differ. Find what works best for you personally within the expectations of your organization.

Return to office, full stop! I personally prefer being in the office. My role is much better fulfilled while on site and while I appreciate other’s reasons for wanting to continue at home or hybrid, I am honestly much happier working from the office again. I like the clear delineation between work and personal, home and office. I like coming in each day and seeing folks in the flesh and blood, catching up at the coffee machine and supporting each other in those brief walk-by moments.

Work social events, meetings, and shared responsibilities are much easier executed when we are all in one place. Yes, I am a big proponent of returning to the office. After all, it worked before and it can work again!

 Give yourself time and space to adjust

 I was anxious when I first returned to office. I think it’s important to give yourself an adjustment period that works for you and take time to reflect on your experience and how you’re feeling.

 Find a happy balance

 Work a hybrid week, Mon-Wed in the office, Thu-Fri from home. I save the activities that need uninterrupted concentration (i.e., reviewing documentation, review of DHRs, research & writing for blogs/whitepapers) for the days I work from home. If I’m in the office, people stop by my desk, ask questions, which makes it hard to get back into the flow of writing/editing.

Plan recurring team meetings for in-office days to establish routine. Encourage team members to have regular in-office touch points to re-establish routines. Communicate them to your team. This will allow team members to synchronize project tasks with you online and in person. Schedule in-person meetings and hands on work to maximize the value of being in the office.

On the other hand, meetings that traditionally involve multiple time zones and locations were often troublesome pre-pandemic and are now quite normal due to improved remote connections and meeting practices. Shift video conferences to days you’re working from home.

Maintain a work-life balance. Working from home can be challenging to separate work from personal life. And it can be challenging to take your brain off work. That’s why returning to the office is great because it provides a clear distinction between work and family time, allowing us to fully switch from work and recharge.

Identify the most effective day/s to work at home to avoid activities such as repairs, household chores, errands, etc. And days at the office for optimum use of the office resources (i.e. labs) and in-person collaboration with your colleagues.

 Apply new techniques learned while working remotely

 Equalize hybrid working through communication, and more specifically, meetings. It is important to communicate objectives and agenda in the body of meeting invites to make sure that things talked about in the office are shared prior to the meeting. This allows those who were not in the office to prepare and formulate questions/responses to the meeting topics.

When influencing teams remotely over Teams or Zoom, keep your camera on, be expressive to show you’re listening, and ensure you’re heard in every meeting by adding a value-add perspective or commentary.

Tips for home or office

Leave a task half completed at the end of the day, then come back to it as the first task for the following day. Doing so gives a sense of accomplishment when starting a new day.

Keep hydrated and use a stand-up desk (both at office and home) to help maintain movement through the day.

Take 30-to-60-minute lunch breaks and disconnect from Outlook / Teams. At work, focus on food and conversation with colleagues during that time to help break your routine.

Wherever you work, understand your personal working style and what motivates you to stay productive. Use a To-do list / planner to increase focus and productivity. I jot down everything I want to achieve for the day, create bite size deliverables spread throughout the day, and continue to stay motivated as I tick these off.

Additionally, I make weekly objectives which I overcommunicate to my team so that they’re aware and I have accountability.

Maintain self-care while working from home or at the office. I have a routine before turning on my PC in the morning, schedule frequent breaks and always try to take a 30-minute lunch break.

Use these tips to optimize your return to office and send us your tips and insights on navigating this massive shift in work location and behaviour.

Image: StarFish Medical

Astero StarFish is the attributed author of StarFish Medical team blogs. We value teamwork and collaboration on all of our medical device development projects.


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