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Hybrid work schedule? Here’s how to navigate a part-home, part-office setup

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Hybrid work schedule? Here’s how to navigate a part-home, part-office setup

So you’ve got one dress shoe in the office door, one slipper in your living room.

Yes, for many, a partial return to work is finally here.

Perhaps your company has armed you with an arsenal of antigen self-tests, the lure of free lunch at the office or the ability to select which days you come in versus workin’ from home.

Whatever the case, you’re maybe feeling a little — or a lot — anxious about it all.

“It’s understandable if employees are jittery about returning to the workplace after so long,” said Joe Flanagan, senior employment advisor at VelvetJobs, the career matchmaking platform that connects curated jobs to job-seekers globally.

“In addition to a massive change, it also represents foregoing the small luxuries that we have gotten used to while working from home and having more autonomy in the way we work. For many, the physical workplace, the culture or their colleagues are the biggest stressors of their job, and understandably so, they are reluctant to go back to the way things were.”

Still, career experts say you should do your best to try and spin things positively.

“For life at work, there is no ‘back to normal,’ ” said Maureen Kennedy, a coach at Bravely, an NYC-based company that provides professional coaching for corporate employees.

“What we’re getting instead is something better: the opportunity to reinvent from the ground up. That’s exciting, but it’s also daunting, and won’t happen overnight. If we stay curious and courageous, we can continue to experiment and [find better ways] of working.”

Below, here are a few of those tips and tricks to get the most out of hybrid work.

Remember we’re all in the same boat

You’re not the only one feeling overwhelmed.

“Although HR and/or your boss might come across as confident regarding a return to the office, they are all just as unsure and nervous about the transition as you are,” said Dr. Michael McCutcheon, co-founder and head of coaching at Wanderlust Careers, an NYC-based career services firm, stressing that this adjustment is strange for everyone, regardless of where they stand on the totem pole.

“Be sure to practice self-compassion and patience while you figure out how to navigate this brave new world that is the in-office/WFH hybrid.”

To quell your anxiety, McCutcheon advised that the best thing you can do for yourself is to be transparent with anyone being directly impacted by your return to work (partner, kids, roommate, work friends, etc.).

Tell them what you are specifically nervous about and how they can help.

“People who care about you want to support you during these times. They just need to be told what you need from them,” said McCutcheon. “Even something as simple as asking a close co-worker, ‘Hey, I’ve been super anxious about riding the train to work and being in a closed space all day. Would you mind going for a walk with me over lunch for a quick venting session?’ can alleviate so much of your back-to-work stress. And they’ll probably need the support, too.”

Be sure to step away from your desk for regularly scheduled stretching or fitness breaks while working from home.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Set rituals for your ‘at-home’ days

Your office days will have a built-in routine, stressed Kennedy.

“You wake up at a certain time, get dressed a certain way, and make your commute,” she said. On the flip side, WFH is more freewheeling, so “adding consistent elements of structure to your home days can boost your motivation to get through them.”

Now that you have the structure of an office schedule part of the time, it’s prudent to solidify some practices at home. For instance, start your day at home with a “commute” by taking a walk.

Get away from the computer with regularly scheduled stretching or fitness breaks.

“Importantly, your ‘home rituals’ don’t have to mirror your ‘office rituals,’ or even be confined to the morning,” said Kennedy. “They can be whatever helps you stay motivated and focused throughout the day.”

Listening to a certain radio station (Hello, WQXR), drinking from a specific mug and setting timers for tasks go a surprisingly long way in terms of signifying that it’s work time.

masked workers elbow bump in the office
Look at your in-office days as a chance to work on your social skills.
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Use office days strategically to advance your career

Ah, body language above the shoulders, remember that?

“Schedule all your brainstorming and creative meetings on the days you are in the office,” said Flanagan. “Don’t be caught slacking or idling away too much time on personal tasks, talking on the phone or other such things on the days you are in.”

Flanagan suggests you can show initiative and take up an extra responsibility or two outside your immediate projects at work, like organizing a quiz or arranging for a team lunch.

Even impromptu “water cooler” breaks can be a great time to make a good impression in the workplace.

“Unfortunately, our social skills are just like every other muscle — if you don’t use it, you lose it,” said McCutcheon. “Think of the hours in the office as an opportunity for keeping your interpersonal chops ready for action.”

Some experts suggested that taking a back seat can be a boon for your success at work, too.

“It may seem counterintuitive, but one of the best things you can do to ‘compete’ is to not compete at all,” said Kennedy. “Instead of thinking of winning the fight for visibility, focus on elevating the team as a whole. Bring new voices into conversations; be generous with giving public recognition. In an environment where most people will be trying to get noticed, it’s the ‘includers’ who will stand out.”

Have grace when things go wrong

It’s important to have clarity of role, timing, expectation and goals before the hybrid model takes effect, said Flanagan, but be aware that things might not go without a hitch even with careful planning.

“Don’t expect things to be smooth and seamless from the first day, and show flexibility,” said Flanagan.

“Depending on your relationship with your colleagues, it might take some time to get back the same cordial warmth, but don’t overdo it or complain about coming back to work on the very first day.”

If you can show that you can be patient and understanding while the kinks in the new hybrid system are ironed out, it won’t go unnoticed. “And if that feels like too much work, bringing in doughnuts, bagels and cupcakes should do the trick,” said McCutcheon.

Can’t stand office life? Give it time

A brutal commute, health concerns — whatever it is, you may want to shift to fully remote despite your company going full steam ahead with a hybrid setup.

“Going to the boss after the first day back to demand a complete WFH schedule might not be the best approach,” said Flanagan, who suggested you wait at least a month before expressing your desire to WFH full time.

“Be authentic in your request and state the reason why you prefer working from home and in what ways it impacts your output or results,” he said. “If your employer isn’t willing to let you go and values you, chances are they will agree.”

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker
USA TODAY Sports

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers

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Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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