Much of the legal industry is transitioning to a hybrid workforce, bringing along new challenges and changes. On one hand, many lawyers and staff haven’t been in the office for quite some time and may miss the benefits of working near colleagues. On the other, transitioning back-and-forth from working at home or the office brings its own challenges.
With these changes, stress can take over and bad habits may form. Luckily, there are ways at home and in the office to combat this stress and win back the work-life balance you have earned. To become flexible with these changes, recognize stress about returning to office and learn techniques to ease the transition between work environments.
Relieve the stress of returning to the (law) office
For many people, working around other people — especially after so many months working remotely — is a stressor in itself. While you aren’t alone, it’s important to recognize any anxieties about returning to the office and deal with them appropriately.
Many psychologists suggest that changing our mindset about the situation can relieve some of this stress. Rather than dwelling on the negatives, focus on some of the benefits of working in the office. Some positives may be:
- Culture: Working in the office may provide a better sense of your organization’s mission. Being around other people can help reinforce behaviors that relate to this mission, making you more motivated to work.
- Collaboration: A lot of information is shared through short, casual chats at the water cooler. The informality of these conversations may be just what you need to ask a question or come up with a creative solution.
- Productivity: The office may provide fewer distractions compared to working at home. It can help you distinguish your personal priorities from your work ones, making you more focused.
Once you’ve coped with the stressor of going back to the office, consider what you can do to reduce stress related to transitioning between different work environments frequently.
Tips and techniques to regain work-life balance
The hybrid working model means working both at home and in the office, creating frequent changes in work environments. But lawyers are still expected to be productive and efficient no matter where they’re working. These expectations and a new way of working can take a toll on you.
Reduce stress related to transitioning, and fully regain work-life balance, by thinking about how to prepare for each environment you’re working in:
For both environments:
- Set practical goals: Being able to complete tasks helps us feel more accomplished and have a sense of control. Make a to-do list of what needs to get done so you remain focused on the tasks at hand.
- Manage your time: Delegate time to complete each goal. This will help you be more efficient throughout your workday.
- Take breaks: We often feel that we need to be continuously working, but taking breaks is beneficial for our productivity and quality of work.
- Eat well: Some meals are just better prepared at home than reheating in a microwave at the office. Take advantage of your kitchen, and make a tasty lunch that fuels your body to get stuff done.
- Unplug: Keep the same schedule as when you’re in the office to create a better routine. Closing your computer at the same time every day will help ensure that you’re not overworking, preventing burnout.
- Create a designated space: Although many lawyers have already done this, continue to separate your work and home life. Simulating a real office can help form boundaries between the two. Your workday will also feel more complete when you walk out of the “office.”
In the office:
- Prepare for going into the office: Meal prepping, planning your outfits, and packing your work bag can help you feel more prepared and be less rushed in the morning.
- Get help when you need it: Sometimes it’s easier to ask questions in person. Prepare in advance what you need help with to decrease some of the in-person stress.
- Plan for social time: Even if you aren’t as excited to get back into the office, face-to-face interactions improve our well-being. Get a coffee with a coworker or a small group to ease yourself back into in-person human contact.
Transitioning frequently is no easy task, especially when you’re still expected to do your best work within each work environment. By preparing for each condition, you can regain more control over both your work and personal life.
The hybrid working model brings new challenges that can create an overwhelming amount of stress. Reducing the stress of working in-office again, along with transitioning to different work environments, can help you regain control of your work-life balance. Discover other ways to implement work-life balance at your law firm by reading our white paper: Striking the right balance between work and home.