The COVID-19 pandemic permanently changed the business landscape and, in many ways, this was for the better. The need for remote access to work drove meaningful change for companies across the globe and as a result, many have now adopted a permanent remote or hybrid work model. Most of the businesses that didn’t weren’t able to survive the damage the pandemic caused to the economy.
As an attorney and co-founder of Kjar, McKenna & Stockalper LLP, Robert McKenna III knows firsthand how imperative it is for entrepreneurs to be proactive about business continuity, especially when up against adversity. His hybrid office quickly adapted to remote work when it became necessary during the pandemic, and once quarantine restrictions were lifted, McKenna was able to pick and choose which tasks benefited most from a remote work model and which were most effectively completed in-office.
This unique approach not only afforded his legal team a better work-life balance but slashed his overall operating costs and increased his return on investment.
Benefits of a Hybrid Office
The hybrid office model is arguably superior to strictly remote work for many reasons. First, it allows employees to work from home when they need to or when conditions are conducive to more productive work at home. Team members can come into the office when the home environment is less suitable for the task at hand, such as when young children are at home or when access to special equipment or files is needed.
As McKenna quickly learned, the hybrid office also provides greater flexibility in hours and days worked, which can lead to higher levels of motivation and concentration when working. Furthermore, a hybrid office can promote increased engagement by providing opportunities for social interaction and collaboration that might be lacking in a purely remote environment.
Hybrid Office Challenges
McKenna is no stranger to the challenges presented by a hybrid office, namely communication and collaboration. It can be difficult to keep everyone on the same page when some employees are in the office and others are not.
“Trying to get five people from across the country to meet in Chicago on a Thursday or a Friday was almost impossible, and now you could probably line that meeting up within a week. You could just find a slot of time for everybody to get on a Zoom call,” he tells Boss Magazine in a recent interview.
Other challenges of a hybrid office are distractions and isolation. Working from home can be distracting, especially if there are kids or pets in the house. And working in an office can be isolating if employees don’t have much interaction with their coworkers. There may also be a lack of structure and support that can be found in a traditional office setting or problems with technology that makes it hard to stay connected with coworkers.
Tips For Managing a Remote or Hybrid Office
McKenna learned a lot about what to do and what not to do through experience during the pandemic, and he has some straightforward tips for transitioning to a remote or hybrid office model.
First, he emphasizes taking an inventory of all the tasks that need to be completed at your office. Then, you can start to identify which tasks must be done in person by an employee. For example, this can include tasks that require the use of a specific type of equipment or those that need to be completed in a certain environment.
“I spent two or three weeks looking at the business to determine what needs to be done in person. I realized all we needed was one person in each office to pick up the mail, scan it, and send it off to whoever needs it,” he said. McKenna went on to add, “We also needed the same person or a different person to come back in the afternoon to print, address, and send outgoing mail for that day.”
The most important thing to remember is that no one model will work for every office or business. The tasks that one company can do remotely may need to be done in person by another. For example, retail stores require several employees to be present to assist customers with transactions, stock merchandise, etc. But in this example, a person that strictly does billing or ordering for the company may be able to work remotely all or part of the time.
You should also make sure that your office space is set up to support both remote and in-person work. This means having dedicated spaces for each, as well as plenty of common areas where people can gather to collaborate. If you haven’t already, it’s important to invest in the right technology to support a remote workforce.
“People needed a good chair. Some people didn’t have laptops. So, we got them a laptop. We’re cloud-based, so people can be anywhere and sign in any time,” McKenna said of his own remote work setup.
How to Maximize Productivity When Working Remotely
To maximize productivity when working remotely, McKenna recommends having an established space in your home that is specifically dedicated to work. He cautions against working in the bedroom or anywhere else that you sleep, as this can make you feel tired and sluggish when you need to be the most alert. Having separate spaces for your activities is a great way to help your brain adapt more easily to each.
McKenna also suggests creating a routine that works for you. “Whatever you do on the weekend, don’t do [it] during the week while you’re working. Create a separate routine, even if it’s putting on a different kind of shirt or just showering and shaving when you wake up,” he says.
It’s also important to take regular breaks and time away from work when you take work home with you. Unfortunately, the convenience of remote work has also led to more unrealistic expectations of what people can and should be doing while they’re working from home. McKenna elaborates, saying “People say, ‘I know you’re on vacation, but we have a virtual conference. Can you do that? You have internet.’ And the turnaround time people expect on text messages and emails has dramatically shrunk. People want instantaneous reassurance that you’re available to respond at any time.”
Protect your peace by saying no and turning down projects or requests that you don’t have the bandwidth for. Be clear about when you are and will be on a break and let people know what to expect in terms of communication from you when you’re away from the desk.
About Robert McKenna III
Attorney Robert McKenna III is a UCLA graduate and successful tort lawyer with a practice in Huntington Beach, California. His focus is largely on medical malpractice claims, personal injury, product liability, and other types of civil claims. McKenna is currently admitted by the Bar to practice law in both California and Nevada and belongs to numerous professional organizations, including the California Medical Malpractice Defense Professionals group and the California Medical Legal Association.
McKenna is also highly acclaimed in his field of legal practice, having achieved Southern California Super Lawyer Rising Star and Southern California Super Lawyer designations between 2004 and 2020. He was also named a Lawyer of Distinction and a Top 100 High Stakes Litigator and holds the highest AV Preeminent® rating from Martindale-Hubbell. McKenna enjoys doing community work as well and works with many committees and organizations that support people who live and work in the area, like the Long Beach Junior Chamber of Commerce, the Long Beach Community Medical Center Foundation, the Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital Long Beach, and the St. Mary Medical Center’s ethics committee, to name a few.
When not working with clients to help them obtain the highest possible settlement available in their case, McKenna enjoys partaking in water activities he used to enjoy as a child growing up in Hawaii, like swimming, scuba diving, and fishing.