Trouble Focusing? Make the Most of Hybrid Work and Switch Up Your Workspace

In the world of hybrid work, some employees find themselves choosing between—or bouncing between—the traditional office, the home office, and remote locations of their choice. Upflex CPO Ginger Dhaliwal shares insights on how leverage all three for greater productivity and focus.

Research shows that once you’ve been unnecessarily or undesirably interrupted for something off-task, it can take more than 20 minutes to get back “in the zone.” And because interruptions in an office environment can be relatively constant, 40 to 60 percent of work time may be lost every day.

Remote workers — between family, pets, and house chores — are certainly not immune to this problem. But a recent Harvard Business School survey of 1,500 employees found that, half the time, collaboration didn’t suffer with remote work. Rather, 500 employees surveyed said their overall productivity and quality was better than it had been in the office. Another third said they had an easier time focusing in a remote work setting.

The everyday interruptions that come with an traditional office environment can break focus, or preclude focused time at all.

“Think about the way our offices are set up,” corporate efficiency and workflow consultant Edward G. Brown said in a Q&A with The Washington Post. “In an open floor plan, with low cubicles, it’s easy for someone to walk by and ask, ‘Got a minute?’ right when you’re about to finish writing up a big project. And you both know that that minute is never just a minute. The flow is constant. And we are our own worst ‘time bandits’ because of the Internet. It’s just about destroyed our ability to concentrate.”

In a coworking space — with all the amenities and studious workspace, but fewer of the unwanted distractions — these unwanted interruptions can be easier to tamp down, and our time and space to think can be easier to protect. Here are a couple ways to leverage your approach to workspace in order to make time to think, foster your ability to focus, and ultimately, boost your productivity.

Boom Zone on Uxbridge Road in London. Book a desk on the Upflex app.

Set a Routine That Works for You

The charm of flexible work is that our days are variable. When it comes to our most productive time, not all eight hours between 9:00 and 5:00 are created equal. Perhaps mornings are chaotic and full of meetings. Perhaps afternoons are drowsy and best left to coffee and catching up with coworkers. Perhaps evenings, when everyone else has logged off, are the times you do the best thinking. Some days, you need to be heads down on a deadline. Others feel made for tying up loose ends.

Sitting in the same workspace throughout all of these different moods and moments and trying to hammer through your to-do list can feel like forcing a square peg into a round hole.

But one of the freedoms of flexible work is location variety, and with that, the ability to complement a traditional office and/or a home office with a coworking space that has flexible access hours. Getting out of the home office is helping some hybrid workers create routines — or respond to needs — that take this variability into consideration. Try carving out time for yourself at a shared workspace close to home that’s conducive to being heads down when you need to, and plan time at the office or at your home office to suit the strengths of those work environments.

Cross Campus near Manhattan Beach in Los Angeles. Discover it in the Upflex app.

Look for Workspace Layouts That Suit Your Goals

Some coworking spaces are all about community: long, shared tables; buzzing common spaces; lounge areas designed for meetings and mingling. Others are built around privacy and focus: distinct workspaces, spread-out desks, sound baffles and private nooks. You don’t need to pick one that fits with your personality and commit to it forever — workers with a vast network of spaces to choose from can pick one that suits their workweek, their workload on a particular day, or their mood on a particular morning.

Get familiar with spaces near you: Check out floor plans that offer the types of workspaces you need, from private booths, to light-filled quiet spaces. And on days when you need to hunker down, add noise canceling headphones to the mix.