Working from home has become the new norm over the past few years for many employees around the world, but as more and more companies look to get employees back to the office, we’re seeing an interest in mixed work schedules.
Remote work has many benefits, such as increased motivation, a reduction in turnover, higher productivity, and better work/life balance. On the other hand, employers are equally keen to reap the benefits of a traditional office such as the ensured quality of the environment, easier accessibility, and overview of security benefits. So, what are companies and employees to do?
A hybrid work schedule seems to be the answer, offering many of the benefits of both worlds, with only a few drawbacks, which we’ll get to later. First, let’s look at what a hybrid work schedule is, some work from home schedule examples, before covering how to manage your own hybrid work schedule as well as that of your team.
What is a Hybrid Work Schedule?
There are numerous types of working structures that a company can implement, but in terms of where your employees are based, there are three main options:
In-office: the traditional format of being in a building, whether one or many, and working in-person.
Remote: this is working from home and has seen a boom in recent years, in no small way due to Covid.
Hybrid: this is a mix of both in-office and remote work.
We have seen fully remote work schedules increase throughout the Covid pandemic, but as companies try to bring workers back to the office hybrid models have gained traction.
However, the hybrid work schedule is not a single structure, and there are a few ways to implement it depending on your company and employee needs.
First, you can have in-office and remote working completely flexible and in the hands of the employee. This could mean hot desks at physical locations and an expectation that workers spend at least some of their time in the office, but that time is up to them.
Second, you can have fixed office times, whereby everyone in the company (or department) has certain days to be in the office and is free to work the remainder of the time remotely.
Finally, some companies operate a split team, where full-time in-person employees and remote employees work on the same team.
To make things clearer, let’s take a look at some hybrid work from home schedule examples:
Joe and Jane are both working on a 3-2-2 schedule, but at opposing, times both are able to exploit the advantages of remote work as well as the benefits of in-office work. If a manager set this schedule, it would be an example of employees with fixed office times.
In this example, Jack is always at the office, while Jill is always remote. It is an example of a split team, where neither individual employee has a hybrid work schedule, but the company does.
In this example, both Mark and Ann have a flexible hybrid work schedule, and they choose when to come into the office. This is simple enough for two people, but if multiple people can drop in and out, you might start to see some problems, which we’ll take a look at now.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Hybrid Work
Before hastily announcing that everyone is now hybrid, it’s worth weighing up some of the pros and cons of a hybrid schedule.
Pros of A Hybrid Work Schedule
You can develop a truly global team. Especially if following a split team model, hybrid work allows you to employ people from anywhere in the world, across multiple time zones, geographies, and specializations.
It can save money! Making some of your company operations remote means less demand for expensive office space, which can cost thousands of dollars per year for every employee.
A reduction in commuting times. This may not look like a direct benefit for your company, but it is for every single person who doesn’t have to sit in traffic for two hours every day. Fewer in-office days mean fewer cars on the road.
Greater flexibility. A hybrid schedule gives you and your team more flexibility in when and where you work, reducing stress and improving productivity.
Cons of a Hybrid Work Schedule
Trying to stay on top of numerous hybrid schedules can be challenging and time-consuming. It can be made even more complicated when considering other aspects such as flexitime or balancing models for workers who might not be in the same city, or even the same country.
It requires additional digital infrastructure to organize your team. However, as we talked about earlier, the cost of new digital hybrid platforms can be easily offset by the savings you make by cutting office space.
How to Manage Your Hybrid Work Schedule
Moving to a hybrid schedule can be complicated, but there are a few ways to simplify the whole process. We’ve put together some of our tips to manage a hybrid work schedule for yourself:
Communication is a vital part of any work environment, but never more so than when operating on a hybrid schedule, where simple mix-ups can cause major problems. When working remotely, you often don’t have the oversight that you would in an office, which means that you have to be far more structured in your communication.
At the start of managing your hybrid schedule, you should clarify some of the basics with your manager or peers. These could include questions like:
Are people expected to work specific times?
Which (if any) days do you need to be in the office?
How will you communicate with colleagues?
Which communication channels should you use for what?
How will you collaborate on projects?
How will you manage work across in-person and remote days?
One of the simplest ways to get your communication on track is ensuring that you’re using a platform that gives you the tools to keep everyone on the same page, no matter where or when they’re working.
Use the Right Platform
The “correct” platform will depend on your company, but there are a few fundamental features to look out for in a digital platform that are vital for managing a hybrid work schedule.
First, as discussed above, communication is key for well-managed hybrid work, so you should look for a platform that includes all the channels you need, such as Spike, which offers powerful Conversational Email as well as Priority Inbox to deliver only the most important messages in a format as simple as the fastest instant messenger.
In addition to this, Spike also offers Video Meetings, which are perfect for when some or all of your team are working remotely. Spike also has built-in Voice Messages, allowing colleagues who are working from home to chat as if they were in the same building.
Other important features to look for are those that enable your team to collaborate on work whether they’re in the same office or working remotely. Spike offers Online Notes, which delivers collaborative notes in your inbox, with text, images, code, videos, and more available to you, your team, or anyone with whom you want to share it.
Managing projects as part of a hybrid schedule can be challenging, so having the right tools for you and your team is key to success. This starts with tasks that can be tracked as they progress. Spike’s Tasks allow you to move through the stages of a project fluidly and are built right alongside customizable and collaborative To-Do Lists, allowing you to manage projects from start to finish no matter where you’re working from.
What’s more, Spike syncs across all your devices, meaning that you can start a Note on your home computer and pick it up on a work device, or even your phone as you travel to the office. This makes it a perfect digital workspace for those dividing their time between home and the office as well as fully remote workers.
Managing Your Team’s Hybrid Work Schedule
Managing your whole team’s hybrid work schedule takes a lot of the same skills and tools as managing your own. To start with, you need to establish what kind of hybrid model you want to use, and what that means for the employee.
For example, suppose you’ve decided that everyone has to be in the office sometimes. In that case, you could look into:
Employees are grouped, with one cohort being in-office Monday to Wednesday and the second cohort in-office Thursday and Friday
Everyone works on a 3-2-2 schedule
In-office from Monday to Wednesday, working from home Thursday and Friday, then off for the weekend.
Employees have set times each day that they can (or must) come into the office.
Employees must spend a set number of days or hours in the office, but this changes week to week depending on meetings, projects, clients, etc.
Alternatively, if you’ve got a split team, you need to decide whether in-office workers are ever able to work remotely and if remote workers are ever able to come into the office. Whatever you decide, it is more important to communicate it clearly to employees and establish clear expectations from the start.
Set Clear Expectations
Poor communication about expectations of hybrid work can lead to project delays, reduced productivity, and ultimately a failure to meet your goals. If, for example, you are including fixed office times, you need to make sure every employee knows what those times are and when they as an individual are expected to come in.
Alternatively, if your hybrid model is completely flexible, are there still times in a day that an employee has to be “online” or is this also flexible? Do they have to warn you before coming into the office so as not to overwhelm resources? How much notice is needed for an in-person meeting if you are doing something?
All these questions, and many more, need to be discussed and clearly established. To make sure everyone is on the same page, consider sharing a document outlining all expectations and asking employees to comment with any questions. Have an all-hands meeting to ensure people know what is expected of them, and of you.
Set a Clear Agenda and Priorities
Besides setting clear expectations about how the hybrid work will operate, you also need to establish clear priorities, goals, and agendas. This is important within any company and work structure, but especially so in a hybrid model when workers are often, if not always, working by themselves.
This should involve thorough training about how each individual can organize and prioritize their tasks as well as certain prioritizations set by you – for example, which tasks need to be completed by when.
Of course, getting the right virtual platform to track, organize, and schedule this work will make all the difference, which is why Spike is designed to work as seamlessly for a distributed team as it would for an office environment.
Create a Centralized Workplace for Your Hybrid Work
When your team works from both their home and an office, it can be challenging to ensure that everything needed for an ongoing project is always accessible – a list might get left at home, some documents may be in the office… small inconveniences that can spell disaster.
To mitigate this risk, create a centralized workplace for your hybrid team. This digital hub can be the meeting point of all team members and a repository of all important information, ensuring that nothing is overlooked or left behind again.
Spike, for example, offers Groups, which allows teams working on different projects to communicate clearly and centralize their workflow. What’s more, Spike includes specialized file management whereby you can preview files or email attachments right inside your messages, never losing track of important documents again.
Remote work is here to stay, and if you want to benefit from it alongside traditional in-office work, you need to manage hybrid schedules. Follow our basic tips by focusing on communication, collaboration, clarity of tasks and expectations, and the tools to execute these things, and you’ll be well on your way to running an amazing team hybrid work schedule.
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