If you’ve been considering the move to remote work, you’ve no doubt heard about its many advantages.
It saves costs, encourages flexibility and autonomy, and allows workers to do their jobs with fewer disruptions. In fact, many studies have shown that, with the right tools, telecommuting can boost productivity.
However, that’s not the entire story.
While there was a shift to alternative work arrangements due to COVID-19, we’re not completely done with the traditional workspace—at least not yet.
Many workers have found that there are some parts of working in the office that they miss and would prefer to return to the office, but maybe there is a possibility to find a middle ground.
Why Going Fully Remote Isn’t Always the Answer
Despite its dreamy benefits, a virtual work environment has its downsides.
There are some aspects of the on-premise office that a remote arrangement does not offer. Twingate surveyed 300 full-time office workers and 700 employees who transitioned to the WFH model. 94% of those interviewed missed at least one aspect of the traditional office. The report also said 42% missed everything about the in-person environment.
Social connections, face-to-face meetings, and human contact, in general, were among the top things the respondents missed.
A Pew Research study reported that 42% of respondents aged 18 to 49 feel less motivated working remotely. However, the percentage grew to 53% when it came to respondents aged 18 to 29.
Another study showed that workers in Romania struggled to perform while working from home. 57% of respondents said it negatively impacted their work. However, 50% said they would prefer working from home two to three days a week.
What’s more, the remote work environment isn’t suited to every industry. It gets even worse if you’re not fully equipped to go virtual permanently.
So, how do you deal with the challenges of remote work without giving up its benefits?
The hybrid work schedule.
This model allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds. However, you have to do it right to get the best result. In this article, you’ll get tips on creating the best hybrid work schedule for yourself or your team.
Hybrid Work Schedule: What Is it?
A hybrid work schedule combines the best parts of remote and in-person work environments. Many companies – and employees – love the advantages of remote work but are concerned about its negatives. So, allowing the option to come to the office alongside a virtual framework seems like the best way to do things.
Examples of Hybrid Work Schedule
Understanding the different variations of the hybrid work schedule will help you make an informed decision. In addition, these are real-life options that you can consider rolling out, depending on your team’s needs.
Cohort/group schedules work like shifts and they are pretty standard. Managers group employees according to the nature of their tasks and workloads. It could also work by department. Each group has a different on-premise timetable.
For example, Group A or the sales team is scheduled to show up at the office on Mondays and Wednesdays. On the other hand, Group B or the finance team can show up Tuesdays and Thursdays.
This kind of schedule is ideal for departments that require collaboration. They can arrange in-person meetings and presentations for office workdays.
This involves assigning two or three days each week for remote work and the rest for in-person hours at the office. Of course, this schedule can be worked out to accommodate each team’s needs.
That said, a detailed and defined schedule comes with its perks. Workers know what to expect and can arrange their work calendar accordingly.
This approach prioritizes the virtual workplace without unplugging on-premise arrangements. So, while the first approach to work is remote, employees still have a space at the office.
Some employers allow their workers to pick the days they’re comfortable coming to the office. This method is ideal for companies with the toolset to go fully remote but enjoy the perks of in-person work.
Hybrid Work Schedule Pros and Cons
While the hybrid work schedule benefits employers and employees, it’s not all rosy. So, let’s explore its pros and cons.
This is one of the most apparent benefits of the work model. Even before the pandemic, flexible working arrangements have been trending. Everyone prefers routines that aren’t fixed and tiresome. If anything, the past year’s events showed that workers increase productivity when they work flexibly.
With a hybrid schedule, employees can work from home when conditions are not suitable to commute. They can also choose to head to the office whenever the urge for social connection stirs up.
Companies Can Implement Better Safety Measures
Employees can stay back home if they fall ill or have an emergency.
Since the remote infrastructure is already available, timetables can be quickly reorganized without breaking the workflow. This makes it easier for employers to put safety first and reduce work-induced stress and injury.
The Invaluable Face-To-Face Interactions
Many employees are tired of everyday zoom calls and pacing around in pajamas. Heading to the office twice a week could be the refreshing break they need to maintain their sanity.
And, let’s face it, in-person meetings make more sense most times.
In addition, a hybrid work environment ensures workers have an escape hatch when working from home becomes wearisome.
A full-time remote work environment can create a disconnect. The hybrid work model recharges the teamwork spirit after employees must have stayed away for a while. Sometimes, workers have to be reminded that they’re part of something.
Also, in-person collaborative sessions can boost productivity and cooperation.
A hybrid work model involves a lot of moving parts. You’ll have to shoulder the costs of maintaining physical and virtual office infrastructures. What’s more, the logistics of setting up timetables for different workers can be tiresome and expensive.
Welcoming New Employees Can Be Difficult
If you don’t have an optimized system, integrating new team members can be challenging. This is more likely an issue if you rotate office hours.
It Could Hurt Synergy
A hybrid work model where teams are rotated could cause a lack of cross-team collaboration. That’s because different departments could go months without crossing paths.
Managers will prefer to promote workers they see over those who work from home. According to research, being observed in person can boost one’s chances at a promotion. So, an employee could put in extra hours at home and remain low in the pecking order.
However, if employers choose uniform working hours for everyone, it hurts flexibility.
Creating the Hybrid Work Schedule
If you’re tasked with creating a hybrid work schedule for your team, these are the ideal steps you should take.
Consult Your Team
You must talk to your team before setting up the schedule. If you’re currently in a remote environment, set up a teleconference. You can also use other methods, such as conducting surveys or one-to-one sit-downs.
Let them know why you’re moving to the hybrid model instead of a full-time in-person or remote arrangement.
Next, make sure they understand what’s expected of them and communicate how the transition will work.
Now, listen and try to understand what everyone would be satisfied with going forward. It would be best to ask them what aspects of office and remote work arrangements they prefer. You’ll find that most employees want to work from home and maintain a connection to the physical office.
The data you gather from consulting with your team should guide setting up the hybrid work schedule.
Do Your Research
Since this is your first foray into the hybrid work model, it would be a good idea to learn from others. Many companies have implemented the schedule successfully and are open about their policies. Find out what they did and how they did it, then consider tailoring those plans to your company.
For example, Salesforce’s employee survey gathered that more than 70% wanted to maintain a connection with the physical office. Quartz also interviewed its staff and found that some employees would prefer two to three on-premise workdays.
Also, the Quora leadership decided to restrict managers from working in the office. This is because they could favor workers they see in the workplace over remote staff when it comes to promotion.
Identify jobs that will be handled better on-site and those that can be executed remotely. This way, there’s ease across the board when dealing with specific issues that require unique approaches.
You can take advantage of social connections, for example. Schedule team update meetings to coincide with office workdays. While there are excellent communication and teleconferencing tools, they don’t beat in-person meetings.
So, you don’t necessarily need Zoom for collaborative events when you have a hybrid work schedule.
That said, this only truly works when your hybrid schedule involves defined office workdays.
Make sure everyone is on board with the plan. For example, if your hybrid work option involves a split team or workers on shifts, it might be challenging to schedule in-person meetings. So, in this case, make sure you plan the get-togethers well ahead.
Be Explicit About Priorities
Every member of your team should take their hours seriously. Whether you allow them to choose or set the hybrid timetable yourself, make sure everyone respects the model.
Prioritize tasks according to well-defined objectives and set a clear list of goals.
It should be clear to team members whether they should attend an in-person meeting or round up a project. In addition, you must communicate what tasks should be worked on in the office or at home.
Adopt a Gradual Roll-Out
Remote work was one of the alternative work arrangements due to COVID-19. That means your team must have got used to it, having worked from home for a considerable period. So, it wouldn’t make sense to yank them off that work-life into a hybrid schedule.
Create a plan that allows them to ease into the new arrangement. For example, if you agree to a two or 3-days a week plan with your staff after the consultation, you can start with one. This way, they can assimilate to the reality of commute and the office space again.
You could also restrict in-person workdays for meetings and brainstorming sessions. Flame the social fire as much as you can until workers start growing the urge to come to the office themselves.
Optimize the Schedule to Address Your Team’s Workload
You have to make sure your changes cause as few disruptions as possible. Your team’s workload should ideally make up the data that guides your hybrid schedule plans.
Pay attention to who is doing what and the level of work assigned to each employee. Now, use those metrics to determine how you ease individual workers into the hybrid schedule. For example, employees might have to stay home longer if they have sensitive tasks that a transition might disrupt.
Team members who rely on collaboration to get things done can transition faster.
Optimizing Personal Hybrid Work Schedules
If your manager gives you autonomy to set your schedule, you have to be smart about it. First, make sure you liaise with them. Communication is key. Ensure you’re both on the same page about things that affect your work arrangements.
Be clear about:
- The days you should go to the office
- How you intend to communicate with other remote employees
- The tasks you should be handling at home and in the office
Now, schedule your to-do list to fit into your hybrid schedule. For example, you’ll want to do jobs that require collaborative efforts in the office. This way, you’re reducing zoom calls and will have enough time to concentrate on solo tasks.
Combine the Best of Both Models
Creating the proper hybrid work schedule means you’re resolving the challenges of remote work and enjoying the perks. Remember that it might take time to make your schedule near-perfect. Optimize your system as you go and always talk to your team or manager about things you should change.