With the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, many offices shuttered and employees were swiftly thrust into work-from-home situations. Now, more than two years later, many have since returned to the office, eager for the return to normalcy and a more traditional work set-up. Others have realized that the benefits of remote work are too good to pass up and that they are more efficient and productive with a flexible work arrangement or working in their own environment. Enter, a hybrid work schedule. What is it? How can you make it work for your organization? It’s worth learning about, because this arrangement is more than just a pandemic trend.
What is a hybrid work schedule?
A hybrid work schedule refers to a work arrangement that involves a combination of remote models and on-site models. It’s the new norm for many companies as organizations strive to maintain the perks of remote work with the benefits of in-person collaboration. It gives employees flexibility, choice and empowerment because the work experience is designed around them and can contribute to greater work-life balance.
There are a few different ways hybrid work schedules can be set up. But the goal is to create a flexible, modern working environment that also has elements of traditional workflows.
According to Gallup, prior to the coronavirus pandemic, only about 8% of employees that were able to do their jobs remotely worked from home, and about one-third had a hybrid arrangement. By May 2020, a few months into the pandemic, as many as 70% of them were working exclusively from home. By February 2022, 42% of remote-capable employees had a hybrid work schedule.
And the arrangement is here to stay, with many employees expecting some level of flexibility in their working lives. Six in 10 remote-capable employees prefer hybrid work, and 9 in 10 want some level of flexibility in remote work. So investing in a hybrid work schedule could be beneficial for the long-term satisfaction of your employees.
There are other perks as well.
Benefits of a hybrid work schedule
- Increased productivity (less time to commute allows more time to get things done focus on work that matters)
- Less stress for employees who have a schedule that works for their lifestyle and responsibilities
- A more diverse range of talent because your team isn’t confined by geography or proximity
- Reduced costs (fewer people in the office can mean fewer supplies and resources are needed)
Challenges of a hybrid work schedule
- Working out a schedule for everyone can be time-consuming.
- Communication can be a struggle.
- Getting employees set up with the proper technology can be expensive.
Don’t let the potential challenges scare you off from a hybrid work schedule. There are several ways to make it work for your organization, and with the proper coordination, the transition can be smooth and beneficial for all involved.
Types of hybrid work schedules
There are several different ways a hybrid work schedule can be set up. The arrangement can be more remote-heavy, or it can lean more toward traditional in-office work. There is no singular recipe for success. It’s about finding the model that works best for your organization and will help employees thrive. Here are some examples of how a hybrid work schedule can be organized.
Managers or team leaders determine what days all employees will be in the office and what days they will be at home. For example, everyone works in person Tuesday through Friday and remotely on Monday. This schedule is consistent and keeps everyone on the same page because they know what to expect. It’s also fair because the schedule is the same across the board.
Employees that come into the office work within a certain time frame of their choosing (with the approval of a manager). This is similar to the cohort schedule, but with even more flexibility.
Team members decide when they’ll be working remotely or in the office. This can be led either by the company (managers decide who is in the office and when) or employees (team members have the freedom to decide how, when and where they want to work). This model offers the most flexibility, but requires the most communication from all involved, regardless of who set the schedule.
Whatever type of schedule you decide on for your organization, it could take some trial and error, and you can mix and match different models until you arrive at a plan that works for everyone.
4 Steps for creating a hybrid work schedule
Whatever arrangement you decide works best for your organization, eventually you’ll need to implement it. Here are some steps to help you get started.
Creating a hybrid work schedule
- Get feedback from your team. Listen to employees and what they’re comfortable with. Would a team member want to work 100% from home? Is there an employee for whom working in the office is non-negotiable? Some may love the convenience of working remotely, while others appreciate the separation of home and work. It’s important to gather data from team members so their expectations and priorities are taken into consideration.
- Prioritize tasks. Separate duties into two categories: what’s best done in the office and what can be done remotely. Perhaps most of an employee’s daily tasks can be done in their own environment, or at least the tasks that require a lot of individual focus, while meetings and collaboration-driven tasks are best carried out in person. Figure out the needs of the organization and the best environment for meeting them.
- Take it slow. If you’ve been all in-office, start with working just one day a week remotely. If your organization has been fully working from home and is transitioning back to the office, let the majority of work still be done remotely. You can wade into a hybrid work schedule rather than diving into it all at once. This makes for a smoother transition for employees, as well as allows you to change course more easily if any issues or challenges come up. Speaking of…
- Don’t be afraid to adjust. It may take some time before you find an arrangement that works best, so reevaluate as needed. You may have to reconfigure the hybrid work schedule altogether, or just make simple tweaks. It’s important to be flexible.
So you’ve determined that a hybrid work schedule would benefit your organization, and you’ve identified how you want to structure it in a way that is suitable for workers as well as the goals of your company. There are other factors to consider as you navigate a hybrid work schedule, and prioritizing these values can make your company even stronger.
Culture and leadership
It’s important to remember that positive company culture and strong leadership is just as important for remote and hybrid work as it is for in-person work, possibly even more so. We have discussed a number of factors that can make hybrid employees more productive, but a survey from A Great Place To Work found that a key factor in these employees’ feelings about the job is believing it is a positive atmosphere and working with people who genuinely love the job (and feeling genuinely appreciated by the company).
Communication is crucial for a hybrid work schedule. When you can’t pop over to someone’s desk to ask them a question, you must learn how to communicate effectively digitally. In addition, when employees are facing uncertainty (such as with the pandemic, which led to many remote and hybrid working conditions), leaders have the opportunity to build trust in their employees and offer them comfort and support.
Many of the issues that can result from a hybrid work schedule can be attributed to a lack of clear communication, so transparency is key. Right off the bat, let your team know why a hybrid schedule is beneficial for them as individuals and for the organization. Be clear about goals, expectations and what you’re trying to achieve with a hybrid schedule.
It is also important for team members to be transparent about when and where they are working. One idea for accomplishing this is to have hybrid workers set a status message so the rest of the team knows when they are available.
Inclusion and diversity
Even if you have the best of intentions implementing a hybrid work schedule, a natural consequence of the arrangement could be remote employees feeling less connected to the organization or feeling like there’s a bias against them. Having a physical presence at work or getting “passive face time” makes one more likely to get promotions and pay raises simply because they’re seen more often by people in positions of leadership and power. One solution for this is to have leaders work remotely. That way everyone is on the same playing field when it comes to opportunities because their work is speaking for itself.
You can also incentivize employees to come into the office at certain points, like with free lunches or other perks. This will allow for more chances to foster the benefits of in-person work, like stronger camaraderie, enhanced communication, and a feeling of belonging.
It’s also important to take into account the conditions or lifestyles employees have and how that plays a role in their ability to work remotely. For example, those coming into the office may have access to child care that others do not. This is another reason why it’s crucial to discuss the possibility of a hybrid work schedule with employees to gather data and learn more about what fits their lives.
When done correctly and in a way that’s inclusive to all employees, a hybrid work schedule can actually strengthen an organization’s diversity because it allows you to hire from a larger pool of candidates with a wide range of talents in a wide range of geographic locations.
There are pros and cons to any schedule and work arrangement, but the popularity of a hybrid work schedule has been booming in recent years. Many employees have come to expect some type of hybrid work model, and it could lead to great results for your organization, such as increased productivity and flexibility and better work life balance for employees. Hybrid work schedules merge the perks of a flexible, modern arrangement with the benefits of traditional, in-office work that will never go out of style.