Flexible work is a powerful tool for employees
Individuals are encouraged to assess their work-life circumstances and individual situation and communicate their concerns and needs with their supervisor when exploring a return to the workplace.
Some employees can easily continue working remotely, while others may adopt a hybrid model and still others will fully return given their job functions. Due to the responsibilities of their positions, many UC Davis employees are not eligible for flex work.
Employee Flex Work Success
Step 1: Plan for your Day
- Use your calendar: work backwards from the year, monthly milestones, weekly deliverables, daily tasks (in addition to the everyday tasks)
- Structure each day of work:
- prioritize non-negotiables
- tend to things behind schedule
- determine what is the most important work in front of you
- move difficult tasks to your best “work-energy” of the day
- Examine if you are an Integrator or a Segmentor
There is no "one way" to do "Work-Life." Some people prefer to blend work and life and others have found that they are more comfortable with very clear boundaries. The blenders are "integrators" and mixing up work and life in the same pot is as natural as breathing for them--these folks are thriving right now! Segmentors, those who like to compartmentalize their work responsibilities away from their home life, may feel more discomfort with working from home, (for themselves and even for their staff) to the point of it feeling inappropriate and distracting. Identify and examine your leaning, avoid rigidity in your preference and understand that others fall in different places of the spectrum.
- Identify and Optimize your Chronotype
Are you a night owl or an early bird? A chronotype is a person's inherent individual differences in activity and alertness in the morning and evening. It defines your peak productivity times, allowing you to plan your day wisely by tackling difficult tasks during peak times and more routine tasks during less optimal times. Flexibility in when we work during the day allows us to optimize our peak creativity, energy and enhances our potential to work "in flow." Wise leaders allow their staff the same opportunity to explore their individual chronotype by not only allowing, but embracing flex hours in the day. In fact, the hours a unit/department is "open" to the public can be extended in a win-win-win situation with more covered hours, working with individual's peak productivity, and avoiding high-volume commute times.
Step 2: Set up your environment
A recurring, well-organized, dedicated space to work sets up a “work attitude” and productivity.
- Optimize natural light
- Ensure noise control to promote focus
- Optimize temperature
- Essential tools: quality chair, desk, computer, external monitor, storage
- Add personal touches
Watch Organize Your Physical and Digital Workspace in the UC Learning Center
Read Ergonomics for Remote Work by UC Davis
Step 3: Strive for productivity
- Respect work time: ensure non-work activities are not an option to invade work time
- avoid personal distractions (physical or digital)
- turn off email for multiple chunks of time throughout the day
- keep “office” hours—establish rules and priorities with others in the dwelling
- keep distractions out of sight
- meet your health needs (food, sleep, exercise)
- Establish a routine that works for you to create order out of randomness
- start with a 5-minute review of your goals for the day
- keep in mind that your established routine does not always work for the demands of every day
- break routine to encourage creative thought…take your breaks
- Read more about Managing Motivation vs. Burnout
When not in the presence of our team and the physical work location, we may not feel that sense of camaraderie and collaboration, impacting motivation. Many of us are also struggling with feelings of grief; missing our social ties and being unable to engage in our usual routines and rituals that help define our sense of self and purpose in the world. Taking stock, finding gratitude, reassessing life-goals, and tying those goals to the work you do will help regain some sense of purpose and therefore motivation. Additionally, make sure you prioritize frequent connection with your teams and co-workers.
The flip side of a lack of motivation is the inability to know when to stop working. The removal of the usual "clocks and walls" of the workplace make it difficult to identify when to stop working leading to burnout. This absence necessitates even more work-life thoughtfulness. Aim to work with intention for meaningful work, while still prioritizing your personal well-being by establishing thoughtful boundaries.
Step 4: Optimize communications
- Decide how you will monitor the various channels for communication
- Use proactive messaging to reduce emails requesting your attention (status updates, fyis)
- Block times/let the rest of the team know if you have a busy day or time planned for “offline” work
- Balance e-communication with more human communications and connections
- Make sure your voice is heard on big issues
Step 5: Stay connected
Feelings of isolation can lead to loss of motivation and focus. Essential tactics for connection:
- Find a way to connect in-person on a regular basis
- Remember the higher purpose you serve beyond your paycheck
- Use technology tools for social interactions as well as work interactions
- Don’t forget to take breaks...use the opportunity to socialize
- Maintain dialogue with the larger circle of colleagues
Step 6: Envision your work in the "new normal"
- Begin to identify which tasks are best done at home and best done at the workplace
- Demonstrate you can successfully work, or do certain tasks from home
- Continue to manage impressions with supervisors and colleagues
- Analyze current role and/or specific tasks for remote potential