Put technology to your advantage in the new hybrid workplace

When working with remote colleagues, a text or email is probably fine for quick conversations, like setting up a meeting. But for more serious discussions, a phone or video call is probably best.

Video calls can get tedious, so they should be used sparingly and primarily when there is a clear purpose for the video, Dr Simon-Thomas said. It could be a meeting with visual aids in a presentation. Or a first presentation to a colleague, when it’s nice to see a face.

Whether in the office or at home, if you are going to write to your colleagues, be careful, added Dr Simon-Thomas. Avoid terse notes and add nuance and context to your post. Whenever possible, use curiosity when discussing solutions to problems to avoid sounding like a harsh critic.

“We don’t have the intonation, facial expression and postural cues that we normally rely on,” she said. “The most mundane answer can mean a universe of things to a person who receives it.”

Regardless of our rank in an organization, our time is precious. When our work is interrupted by a digital distraction like a message, it takes 23 minutes on average to return to the original task, according to a study. So in a hybrid work situation, sticking to boundaries will be crucial, said Tiffany Shlain, a documentary filmmaker who wrote “24/6“, a book on the importance of disconnecting from technology.

There are powerful tools like scheduling emails and setting a status message that you can use to let others know you’re busy and to set limits.

Let’s say you work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and at 7 p.m. you have an idea to share with a colleague, so you jot it down in an email. If you shoot the email, two things happen. First, you have removed your own limits by letting others know that you are working during supper hour. Second, you potentially interrupted a coworker during their downtime.

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