Navigating the Remote & Hybrid Work Landscapes

This article is sponsored by Auburn University Harbert College of Business Graduate Executive Programs

The pandemic was a primary catalyst for the transition to hybrid and remote working environments for millions of employees around the world, and there are few signs that the world will ever go back to pre-pandemic office culture. For the most part, companies prior to COVID-19 expected employees to work full-time in their offices. Over the last two years, the increase in remote working has produced a completely new landscape and set of cultural work norms across the globe.

With the transition to work-from-home, people found time for activities they never had the chance to do when spending the full day in the office. Many Executive MBA students at Auburn University saw the pandemic as a time to reconsider going back to school to further career opportunities.

Though the pandemic did change the work landscape, it’s far from the only reason that the world has continued to maintain the work from home habits. With 97 percent of people preferring to continue remote work practices, according to Forbes, it’s unlikely that we will see the office culture return to its pre-pandemic culture. Our interviews with several Auburn MBA students who are currently working from home gave valuable insight on the trend. Caitlin Tierney, an Executive MBA student at Auburn, explains, “Hybrid work has allowed me to maximize productivity, but on a schedule that works best for me.”

Remote Work Challenges

Although working remotely does have many benefits, our students also note the challenges they face working in this format. Amanda Hedgepeth explains, “The main challenge for my experience was onboarding and training remotely in an environment where they hadn’t done that before.” Her words echo what many remote workers feel – that their utilization and productivity feel low without that in-person training. She overcame this concern by “[learning] to be proactive and not wait on other people for assignments.” Although this proved to be challenging at times, her work paid off through her promotion on her one-year anniversary at work.

Another challenge that many employers have faced in the remote working environment is maintaining productivity.  Elizabeth Griffin explains that working remotely “requires a lot of trust that each person is getting their work done.” Having conversations about expectations when working from home is highly important. In the past, workers who were in person could generally be trusted to spend most of their time in the office committed to work, and it was easier to see when they were not. However, the remote environment gives employees free rein to use their working hours how they please. They might have certain meetings scheduled, but there is no simple accountability method outside that.

Advice for Working Remotely

In conclusion, here are some pieces of advice from our Auburn University Executive MBA students about how to be successful in a remote working environment:

  • “Creating boundaries and carving out space to decompress is critical for successful work, life balance. I block my calendar every day at lunch to work out. Having ‘me’ time is crucial for my mental and physical well-being and makes me a more productive (and happy) employee when I return to work.”

—Caitlin Tierney

  • “My biggest tip is to still get up and do the same routine as normal – still make sure to get up, shower, get dressed, and eat/drink like normal.”

—Elizabeth Griffin

  • “Time seems to go by faster when I’m at home. I have to really be mindful of what is taking too much of my time when I need to be more focused on something else. I set timers for tasks.”

—Amanda Hedgepeth




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