You cannot cut & paste a work from home schedule into an office day.

Think back to 2020; you were plunged into remote work without warning. You resisted, complained and couldn’t comprehend working from home permanently.

Now you’re resisting being summoned back into the office because you have created a new routine, and it’s working for you.

Resisting reality is going to leave you frustrated and resentful. The truth is that the office is not the problem; it’s how you’re thinking about it and your attitude towards it.

Here are some mindset shifts to create an attitude of enthusiasm, energy and passion for those office days:

Use design thinking.

You cannot cut and paste a WFH (work from home) schedule into an office day.

Consider a typical workday and a vacation day. They are entirely different in every way from your headspace, the activities you do and how the day unfolds. Trying to compare them is not practical or realistic.

I ask you to apply the same thinking when working from home versus an office day – they are entirely different and should be planned accordingly. Some questions to think through:

  • What time do you need to wake up?
  • How long do you have for self-care in the morning?
  • If the morning doesn’t work, when will you make time for self-care?
  • What kind of activities will you schedule each day?

You need two separate routines for WFH and an office day. Your time is not the same, so your plan has to adapt accordingly. You cannot expect the same morning routine; it is impossible and will leave you frustrated about what you had to give up.

Plan your week before you are in it, and schedule what you intend to do for your work and non-work activities, considering the different structures for an office day and WFH day.

Remember – if your inbox dictates your day, it doesn’t matter where you work.

What about office distractions?

Most people complain that they never get to their actual work because the office has too many distractions. A better question is:

What did you plan to do that day?

Accept that the office will have more interruptions than when you are alone at home. The author, Paul Graham, writes about having a maker vs a manager schedule.

A maker schedule is dedicated to long stretches of interrupted time to work on strategies, planning documents or writing. A manager’s schedule is focused on shorter bursts of time for meetings, including planning, rescheduling, hosting and attending meetings.

A meeting will sabotage a maker’s schedule because it is intrusive and doesn’t allow for flow. When you know a task requires a maker’s hat, schedule long blocks of uninterrupted time at home. Or, if you are required to be in the office, book a meeting room where you will not be disturbed.

Plan your office and home activities based on what needs to get done. The more clarity you can create ahead of time, the more productive you will be.

Think about why you are coming to the office – how can you maximise the time for the relevant activities? Can you plan for brainstorming or collaborative activities with your teams rather than using the office as another location to check your email?

Can you use your office days to walk the floors and help mentor your more junior reports?

If you have a deadline that requires uninterrupted time to think, then don’t plan that for an office day. Certainly not between meetings, as it will only leave you frustrated.

Own your inbox

Hybrid work has introduced the ‘In-office’ autoresponder. If you are in the office, manage people’s expectations with an autoresponder informing people that you may not be available to pick up Team’s messages or WhatsApp as frequently.

When you live by design and not default, you will master hybrid work and own your days rather than feel like they own you.