How to Thrive in a Hybrid Work Environment According to Gen T Laureates

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Photo: d3sign / Getty Images

By Chong Jinn Xiung

July 21, 2021

As workplaces shift to a hybrid work model, many of us don’t know how to balance work and life effectively. Here, four Gen T laureates share their thoughts on how to stay ahead in the new normal

The past 18 months have brought about a fundamental change in the way we work. Many companies have embraced remote working and made it part of their day-to-day work life after the bottlenecks are over. Although chaotic at first, this change has reinvented the way we work with an emphasis on flexibility.

Today, after a year of working remotely, many are rethinking the traditional definition of work. According to Microsoft Labor trend index 2021, more than 70% of workers surveyed expressed a wish to have more flexible remote working options after the pandemic. Additionally, 66% of companies are considering redesigning physical spaces to accommodate hybrid work environments.

Nonetheless, while the future may be hybrid, many of us still struggle to balance work and family life. Here, we chat with four Gen.T laureates to find out how they stay productive in a hybrid work environment.

Alena murang
Alena murang

Alena murang

Musician and artist

What’s your go-to method for staying productive?
I am more productive when I have a to-do list that covers not only work, but also personal errands, workouts, cooking and cleaning. Of course, having a good playlist to get you in the mood for work goes hand in hand.

What’s your ideal home office setup?
I work a lot more from home now. I set up my workspace in my living room and spend most of the time at my desk with my laptop. But sometimes I like to break things up by having my paintings handy and a simple recording setup for those times when I want to record demos or write songs.

Any advice for working as a family at home?
When I was in confinement with my parents, I discovered that we all have different work styles and schedules. I mostly adjusted to their schedule, but if I had to record or shoot a video my parents had to be very quiet and it was very difficult for them as they weren’t used to being around a camera or recording microphone that picks up every sound. .

What advice do you have for working with remote teams?
In my team, we are like a family. So, in addition to work, we also share a lot about our personal life as it is essential during lockdown when social isolation can set in. I find it important to check everyone’s well-being beyond work. We all support each other and sometimes take different days off depending on what works best for each team member and their family.

One last tip?
I have found it important to add laughter and non-work-related or non-Covid-related conversations in meetings. These elements are usually missing when we communicate primarily via Zoom or email because we are so focused on the meeting agenda that we forget about those unprofessional aspects that we had when working together in the same office.

See also: The Spotify playlist to start your week off right, according to our Gen.T team

Ian yee
Ian yee

Ian yee

Executive producer, R.AGE

What’s your favorite way to stay productive?
I am a firm believer that taking care of your head space is more important than your workspace. It’s not so much about finding the right workspace or buying a fancy ergonomic chair. Instead, I believe that a large part of effective work is taking care of your mental and emotional state. In doing so, your physical work organization becomes more tolerable.

There are many personal care resources online that can help you be more productive. I am using a method called “breathing box”A lot, which I picked up from Acumen Fellows. It was a lifeline.

What’s your ideal home office setup?
I don’t have a fancy home office. In fact, it’s very low-tech. I just have my laptop and a cheap ring light to light up the scene when I’m taking video calls. That being said, I can’t live without my Apple M1 MacBook Air as I do all of my work and meetings on it.

Any advice for working as a family at home?
I’m lucky because my wife and I have very flexible working hours. We normally divide our responsibilities and schedules as clearly as possible. For example, we take turns watching our children’s online classes and catch up with work later at night if we were on call. Of course, there are times when you need to intuitively step in and help each other. But for the most part, it’s best to set schedules and expectations.

What advice do you have for working with remote teams?
The teams I have worked with are already used to working remotely and independently even before confinement. I have always given my teams a lot of confidence and support to work independently, which made the transition to remote work easier.

We communicate mainly through WhatsApp and avoid having too many meetings. I normally limit in-person meetings to once every two weeks or so. I find it important to keep a sense of trust with teammates because as managers we do a lot more individual recordings just to make sure everyone is okay.

One last tip?
A little empathy goes a long way. I have had so many team members struggling under the stress of the pandemic. Simply asking them to improve their game in such situations is counterproductive. Take the time to understand why they are having a hard time and put yourself in their shoes, and this helps to solve the problem better.

Mark Koh
Mark Koh

Mark Koh

CEO, Supahands

What’s your favorite way to stay productive?
I find that working in different places around the house works for me. I usually spend my mornings working outside on my balcony or in the living room, where there is plenty of natural light and fresh air to keep me in shape. In the afternoon, I move into my “office”, where it is cooler and I have all my setup with a monitor, keyboard and mouse close at hand.

What’s your ideal home office setup?
I have a workspace with tall, cafe-style desks that allow me to vary between sitting and standing while I work and hold meetings. I have a treadmill next to the large table which is perfect for meetings. It allows me to time a few miles for my health tracker, and it also allows me to stay alert during meetings.

Any advice for working as a family at home?
At the moment it’s just my partner, myself and our dogs at home, so we’re pretty lucky to have some quiet time and space when we need it, which it’s true n is not the same for everyone.

What advice do you have for working with remote teams?
We use a number of tools that help us stay aligned in a remote working environment. This includes Basecamp, a project management tool for sharing information, meeting updates, and memos. Discord is our primary chat and voice tool for talking to everyone in the organization. We also keep everyone updated on organization-wide meetings, such as town halls. Our work culture is based on transparency and feedback. This means that information is shared openly between teams and feedback is encouraged.

One last tip?
Having an open line of communication with the teams is so important. You never know when someone needs a helping hand or someone to talk to, and it doesn’t always have to be about work, either. At Supahands, everyone has a weekly one-on-one meeting with their manager or manager, where they can meet privately to give their opinion or ask for help if they need it. To keep the teams aligned, we normally have team-wide discussions throughout the week.

Cheryl Ann Fernando
Cheryl Ann Fernando

Cheryl Ann Fernando

Director, Pemimpin Global School Leaders

What’s your favorite way to stay productive?
I find a corner in the house where I can work while monitoring my daughter’s online classes. What has worked for me in terms of a working environment is being close to my kids, so that they can contact me anytime and at the same time I can do work too.

What’s your ideal home office setup?
I can’t live without my AirPods because they allow me to multitask while listening to calls.

Any advice for working as a family at home?
Although we have been working from home for over a year now, having two kids at home is still a challenge, but establishing a routine helps us cope better.

My husband and I share our schedules every day, so we always know who has urgent calls or jobs to do. We take turns to take care of our children and allow the other to work when they need extra time.

We also have a strict routine for our children: they go to bed at 8 p.m. That way we can finish the rest of our work at night or use that time to rest and relax.

What advice do you have for working with remote teams?
My team uses Asana to keep track of our tasks and deadlines. We also communicate frequently through Slack. We also do frequent checks with each other, so we’re all kept up to date with what’s going on.

As the leader of the organization, I don’t send them a message beyond 5 p.m., because I know it’s important to give them time and space after work. I often encourage my team to talk to me or ask for help if they are having difficulty with something or part of their job.

One last tip?
During my time working from home, I learned to trust my team and give them the space to do their jobs to the best of their ability. On top of that, I also learned how important it is to have clear communication and manage team expectations, especially since most of us work remotely.


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