Last Chance! 4 Ways to Make the Most of Hybrid Work this Summer
The summer of 2021, specifically in the United States, has been unprecedented. We’ve never had a summer following a year and a half of mandated quarantines and social distancing. We’ve never experienced a summer the way a grizzly bear experiences coming out of hibernation. This summer is going to be unique in more ways than one. But, how we embrace and take advantage of remote and hybrid work is certainly a big piece of it. Summer may not last forever, but this time is a key opportunity for leaders to set the tone for the future of work.
Thanks to a massive effort to disseminate the COVID vaccine, the restless bears have finally left their lonely caves. While it looks like boosters will be recommended in the near future, things are still opening up. Restaurants, bars, concert halls, and festival grounds will be filling up with people over the next few months. Governments, owners, and organizers have some discretion around how to handle the crowds. Whether we need vaccination cards or masks, the summer is happening. The bears are all far too excited.
Whether you’re in New York, New Haven, or New Mexico, if you’re working on the same remote or hybrid team you’ve been with through the pandemic, this summer really is an exciting one. Let’s take a look at the top four ways to take advantage of the last days of this once-in-a-lifetime summer and how these strategies can build a foundation for the future of work.
1. Take advantage of outdoor workspaces
The most obvious way to take advantage of your remote or hybrid work setup is to get out. Get out of your apartment. Get out of your office (if you still have one). Go work in the sunshine. After months and months of feeling cramped up, it’s an incredibly liberating feeling to work from a busy cafe. This summer, it’s especially nice to sit down and take a deep breath on an outdoor patio. Think freshly made coffee in arms reach, your computer connected to the wifi.
Working in this environment, after what we’ve been through, it’s hard to imagine this wasn’t acceptable for so much of the workforce less than two years ago. We had to “report for duty.” That simply meant connecting to a particular wifi network and drinking coffee in a particular place. The office was our ball and chain, and it already seems hard to believe this location-independence is so new for so many. It’s not shocking that significant portions of the workforce are demanding at least a hybrid future of work.
After struggling through the down months, cafes, bars, and co-working spaces are eager to dust off their chairs and welcome customers. Many cafes and bars are catering to the remote worker, inviting workers to be productive on their wifi, although proof of vaccination may be required. Coworking spaces are reopening their doors across the country, and this is your summer to take advantage. If you don’t normally work at cafes, go try it. If you haven’t dived into the coworking world, find a place that offers a free one-day pass and see what you think. This is the summer to work from wherever you feel best, because for the first time ever—it’s both widely approved and open.
2. Take advantage of the flexible hours
The benefits of a hybrid or remote work setup are many. However, just after “working from anywhere” is a whole new flexibility around when you need to work. Many organizations around the world handle this differently, but in general—there is overall much greater flexibility around when you need to be online in the summer of 2021.
For some teams, there are no “work-hours” and productivity isn’t measured by “hours worked,” but rather outputs. Did the project get finished? Did all the customers get a response? For other organizations, there might be specific work-hours, or maybe just a short 2-4 hour overlap period where all members of the team (regardless of time-zone) are expected to be online. Either way, being forced to work 9-5 feels fairly antiquated in a post-pandemic world.
With the freedom to control more of your schedule, be sure to take advantage of it. Look into what fun concerts, festivals, and gatherings are taking place in your area. Sign up for that morning boot camp. Take the kids to the park or a museum in the middle of the day. Work when you feel most motivated, and go have fun when the sun is shining. This summer is sure to be full of so many fun opportunities, and thankfully, ”I need to work” isn’t why you have to miss all the best moments of the summer of 2021.
3. Take advantage of new playful async work tools
Through the pandemic, through our universal adoption of remote work, there’s been a subtle parallel shift in how we work. The shift from synchronous to asynchronous platforms. When offices were the place that work got done, much of our work—most of the decisions—happened face-to-face. The work took place in real-time. Now that remote work is ubiquitous, most of our work happens asynchronously. Meaning, most of our work happens on platforms like Email, Slack, Whatsapp, and Teams. It happens whenever you decide because it happens whenever you log onto those platforms.
Zoom and other video call software is a big piece of how remote work has thrived, but getting “zoomed-out” is already a well-established phenomenon. The correct response is to lean into asynchronous work. Zoom has its place—but it’s not a good crutch, it’s a painful one. We need to embrace async work not only because it makes far more sense for remote and hybrid teams, but because we like it more. The founder of Doist, Amir Salihefendic, suggests “While I think remote work is the future, I believe that asynchronous communication is an even more important factor in team productivity, whether your team is remote or not.”
Luckily, with this universal transition to remote work, new async tools have sprouted up to keep pace with the changing work landscape and build a better future of work. We’re not stuck to communicating via written text only. A new workplace communication platform, Voodle, allows you to take advantage of async workflows through the magic of video.
Imagine sending 60-second videos into specific channels with your co-workers. Team members contributing ideas, adding to the brainstorm, giving updates, and deeply connecting as three-dimensional humans. (The video will be even better when it’s shot from the fun new coworking space you’re trying out!) Using new, playful async tools fits the jovial or free feeling of summer. Or in Amir’s words, “Not only does async produce the best work results, but it also lets people do more meaningful work and live freer, more fulfilled lives.”
4. Take advantage of the vaccine distribution percentage
With the vaccine in more people’s arms every day, there’s a chance that your team could get together in person for the first time in well over a year. You can finally get together with your team. You can finally hug most of your co-workers. This summer provides a chance to bring back the summer baseball outing and the Friday happy hour drinks of old. Encourage vaccinated teammates to connect again in person while working. Just as importantly, remind them to bond face-to-face with computers off.
Along with weekly traditions and in-person events, summer of 2021 provides a perfect opportunity to plan a meaningful offsite. You can even organize a hybrid offsite where those who can’t get vaccinated as easily can still participate. The future of work has fewer geographic restrictions than ever before if we take advantage of the tools and strategies emerging.
If your team is largely US Based, there’s a good chance that a critical mass will be eager to gather. You could take a fun work weekend to attack specific goals via offsite. Make it a camping trip (just keep an eye out for actual excited bears) or maybe put the whole team up at a resort. Just do something that will get your people excited about finally getting together again in person. This summer is the first time it’s even been possible to safely come together since the start of 2020. So enjoy it! It might not be the Summer of Pleasure, but it’s prime to be the most enjoyable work summer of our lives if we lean into these top-four tips.